On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Warren County.
Antell, O'Brien and Keefe. The opinion of the court was delivered by Keefe, J.A.D.
On August 4, 1988, S.T. was placed on probation for a period of one year after being adjudicated a delinquent under various complaints which charged him with distribution of marijuana and LSD on school property. At the time of the disposition, S.T. was eighteen years of age.
On June 27, 1989, a violation of probation complaint was filed against S.T. charging him with various violations of the special conditions of probation. Subsequently, on August 16, 1989, a second violation of probation complaint was filed against him.
No hearing was scheduled to determine the merits of the violation of probation complaints. Instead, S.T.'s counsel took the position that the Family Court was "without jurisdiction to extend the juvenile probation or impose any other kind of juvenile probationary conditions in this matter." S.T. relied upon the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-47 which provides in pertinent part: "any order of disposition entered in a case under this act shall terminate when the juvenile who is the subject of the order attains the age of 18, or 1 year from the date of the order whichever is later . . . ."
The Family Part judge found, in essence, that the probationary period was tolled by reason of the filing of the violation of probation complaint in June 1989, but the provisions of the aforementioned statute deprived the Family Court of jurisdiction
over S.T. after August 4, 1989. Thus, the judge reasoned that the only disposition that could be made after a violation of probation hearing was concluded adversely to the juvenile was to "enter a disposition that last[s] for the duration of the remaining probationary period." In view of his interpretation of the statute, the judge elected to terminate the probation as "unimproved" with the DEDR penalty previously imposed as a condition of probation remaining an obligation of the juvenile.
The State appeals from that determination. We reverse and remand the matter for a hearing on the merits of the violation of probation complaints.
We are of the opinion that the Family Part judge failed to consider the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-45b and construe that statute, which specifically envisions violation of probation charges such as is involved here, in pari materia with the more general provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-45a upon which he exclusively relied. N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-45b provides:
Except as provided for in subsection a., the court shall retain jurisdiction over any case in which it has entered a disposition under [2A:4A-43] of this act and may at any time for the duration of that disposition, if after hearing, and notice to the prosecuting attorney, it finds violation of the conditions of the order of disposition, substitute any other disposition which it might have made originally.
S.T. received a disposition under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43b(3). Notably, the retention of jurisdiction addressed in N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-45b was not limited by the Legislature to a point in time defined by the juvenile's eighteenth birthday or one year from that date, whichever is later, the concept ...