Being placed under arrest can be terrifying, especially for a child. As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to protect your child, but you might have no idea where to turn after your child has been detained.
A juvenile criminal defense lawyer in King of Prussia can help. We will walk your family through the juvenile justice system, fighting to protect your child’s freedom and future. The McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. understands what an overwhelming situation this can be for you and your child, but you are not alone. Call us today to discuss your case: 610-680-7842.
What You Need to Know About the Juvenile Justice System
In Pennsylvania, there is a court system specifically for juvenile offenders. The rules, procedures, and terminology are different from the court system for adult offenders. The juvenile justice system focuses on correcting the juvenile’s behavior, so he does not end up back in the court system as an adult.
In Pennsylvania, if your child breaks the law, the state will charge him with a delinquent act. There is no jury trial. Rather, a judge or Hearing Master will hear the case and determine whether your child committed the crime for which he was accused.
Once the judge has heard the case, the charges will be dismissed, or your child will be “adjudicated delinquent” (i.e., “found guilty” in adult court).
Although young people do commit serious crimes, many juvenile offenses are misdemeanors or summary offenses. Some common juvenile offenses include:
- Disorderly conduct
- Simple possession
- Driving under the influence
- Simple assault
- Using a fake ID
- Underage drinking
Parents may feel that a juvenile charge for a minor offense is not a big deal, but if your child is adjudicated delinquent, it could have negative consequences and limit future opportunities. That is why an attorney who understands the intricacies of the juvenile justice system and will fight for your child’s rights and their future is a valuable player to have in your corner.
Depending on the Crime, Your Child Could Be Charged as an Adult
Although children do not go through the same legal process as adults, the state can charge children who commit serious crimes as adults. The state of Pennsylvania always tries juveniles accused of murder as adults.
If your child is over the age of 14 and either of the following applies, the state will charge him as an adult:
- He used a deadly weapon while committing the crime; or
- He was previously adjudicated delinquent for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, or voluntary manslaughter.
Possible Penalties If Your Child is Adjudicated Delinquent
Punishments for juvenile offenders can vary widely depending on the nature of the crime and the needs of the child.
For more minor offenses, deferred adjudication (i.e., probation) may be an option. The court will drop the charges if your child successfully meets all of the judge’s requirements such as:
- Attending counseling
- Performing community service
- Passing all drug tests during a given time.
For more serious offenses, the judge could place your child in a juvenile detention center, boot camp, or residential treatment facility.
How long your child spends in one of these facilities depends in part on the child’s progress in correcting the behavior in question.
Although children become adults when they turn eighteen, the court could decide to keep your child under supervision until they are 21 years old.
Having a juvenile record can limit your child’s future and make it harder to get certain jobs down the road. He may be unable to obtain financial aid or get into the school of his choice.
Depending on the circumstances, your child could lose their right to:
- Obtain government benefits
- Work in certain fields
- Join the military
The court could require your child to register as a sex offender which could have lifelong consequences. If your child committed a felony offense, that offense remains on their record unless you go through an expungement process to have it removed.
This means a childhood transgression could stand in the way of your child’s future endeavors. That is not a risk many parents would want to take. Our team routinely handles these kinds of cases and is prepared for yours. At the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., we know what is at stake for your child. We will work tirelessly to provide the best possible defense for your child. Call us today at 610-680-7842 for a free consultation and case evaluation.
Call the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. Today to Discuss Your Case with Our Team
We know you would do anything possible to protect your child, his freedom, and his future, but this can feel impossible when you are fighting the juvenile justice system. Do not leave your child’s future to chance. Just like you, the juvenile defense lawyers of the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. want a bright future for your child.
The juvenile justice system is complex and unique, and our juvenile criminal defense lawyers have years of experience representing children and helping them get their lives back on track. We have a history of success with misdemeanor and felony juvenile cases and will put that experience to work for your case. We will treat your child with compassion and work for a favorable solution in their case.
Call us today at 610-680-7842 for a free case evaluation.