You do not need a lawyer for juvenile court in Pennsylvania. However, an arrest and facing delinquency court proceedings can affect your child or teen for years to come. Having a juvenile criminal defense lawyer on your side through this process can help you minimize the interruption to their education and mitigate the impact on their future.
Juvenile court proceedings, sometimes called delinquency court, are significantly different from other criminal justice processes in Pennsylvania. At the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., our juvenile criminal defense team can explain what to expect, walk your family through the process, and reduce stress for you and your teen alike. Call 610-680-7842 today.
What Consequences Do Delinquent Juveniles Face?
Pennsylvania has a system in place for young offenders that protects them from the worst consequences of getting in trouble with police at a young age. They will not go to prison with adults, and will not have a criminal record unless the courts try them as an adult. Still, the juvenile courts can remove your teen from your home and institutionalize them for several months up to a few years. We will fight to prevent this as we work to ensure your teen has the help they need to continue their education and avoid future arrests.
In general, the juvenile court system centers on treatment, supervision, rehabilitation, or welfare rather than punishment for juveniles charged with crimes. However, this does not mean that your child or teen will not experience lasting impacts from their arrest if the judge finds they committed a crime. The consequences could include:
- Confinement in a facility for delinquent youth;
- Missing out on federal student loans, scholarships, and other opportunities;
- Denied enlistment in the Army, Navy, Marines, or another branch of the military;
- A difficult time finding a job;
- A decreased chance of earning a degree or attending a trade school; and
- An increased risk of serving prison time as an adult.
Are There Options to Avoid Going to Court?
Navigating the juvenile justice system is complex. Without a lawyer on your side, you may not know some of the options to avoid court are even possible. Depending on the charges, it may be possible for us to:
- Negotiate an informal adjustment of the charges, allowing your teen to follow certain rules for a few months in exchange for the court dropping the delinquency petition; or
- Work out an agreement where the court adjudicates delinquency and you agree to supervise the teen in your own home.
If neither of these options is possible or successful in your child’s case, we will prepare their defense and represent them in their adjudicatory hearing. This is comparable to a criminal trial when an adult faces charges of committing a crime. There is no jury in the juvenile court, however. Instead, each side presents their case to the judge. Only if they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt your teen committed the offense will the judge hand down a sentence.
What Is the Role of a Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer?
We can serve to fight for your child’s best interests as they move through the juvenile court process. We will build a solid case in their defense and work toward solutions that make the most sense for their specific situation. We can request certain consequences from the court, working to minimize the severity of the sentence they receive and the effect it has on their future.
It is our goal to help each teen have access to every educational and career opportunity available. We want them to graduate high school with their peers and begin college or start a trade school program.
We can review the facts of your teen’s case. We will analyze the options for getting the charges dropped or avoiding court. We can also explain what type of outcome you should expect and how this may affect your teen’s future. Our team will build a strong defense on your child’s behalf and present it to the judge. We may be able to convince them to drop the petition altogether or issue only minimal consequences.
How Can I Talk to a Juvenile Court Lawyer About My Teen’s Case?
At the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., we keep each child’s current and future well-being in mind in every juvenile court case we handle. Whether the teen has a history of delinquent activity or this is their first time appearing in juvenile court, we will use all our resources and knowledge to their benefit. We will vigorously defend your child, employing the best strategy available.
If you have concerns that your child will likely face a delinquency petition, or if they already have a case pending based on allegations of a delinquent act, we are here to help. Our juvenile criminal defense team offers free case evaluations. Schedule yours today by calling 610-680-7842.