If your child faces accusations of illegal activity in Pennsylvania, the implications and negative consequences could haunt them for years to come. We all want the best for our children, but when a teen commits a delinquent act in Montgomery County, it can put their future in jeopardy.
Attorney David C. McKenzie III, of the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., is a juvenile criminal defense lawyer in Montgomery County. If your teenager faces charges, our legal team can help you ensure their rights remain protected and they have aggressive counsel on their side throughout the entire process. Call us today at 610-680-7842 to get started.
Do I Need to Hire a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney?
Because the Pennsylvania juvenile court system protects young offenders, some people do not see value in hiring an attorney to defend their teen after a run-in with the police. However, hiring a lawyer familiar with juvenile criminal defense can benefit your child. While the system generally opts for rehabilitative sentences for juveniles, your child could still suffer consequences like:
- Confinement in a facility for delinquent youth;
- Disqualification from federal student loans and scholarship programs;
- Denied enlistment in the military;
- A difficult time finding a job;
- A decreased chance of earning a college degree or learning a trade; or
- An increased risk of going to prison as an adult.
We not only build a solid case in your teen’s defense, we work with the courts to help minimize the severity of the consequences they face and maximize their opportunities to finish high school and attend college with their peers. We can review your child’s case and help you understand what type of outcome you may expect. We will also develop an aggressive defense strategy on your teen’s behalf.
How Do Juvenile Offenses Work in Pennsylvania?
With the exception of serious felonies and other major offenses, teens in Pennsylvania do not commit crimes. Any teen who breaks a law faces charges of committing a delinquent act. If the judge finds them guilty of committing this act, they become a “delinquent child.” As such, they do not have criminal records and are not criminals under the law. Instead, they have an adjudication of delinquency on their record.
Because they do not face criminal charges, teens who allegedly commit a delinquent act do not have the right to a trial by jury. Instead, a judge determines guilt and assigns a penalty based on the facts of the case.
In the event of a very serious crime, Pennsylvania law allows prosecutors to charge teens over the age of 14 as adults. This usually applies to felony charges, including murder, rape, and armed robbery. If there is a chance that your child may face criminal charges, let us know right away. Our criminal defense team may be able to sway the judge’s opinion and allow your child to remain in the juvenile justice system.
What Possible Consequences Will My Child Face After a Juvenile Delinquent Act?
Unlike the adult justice system, the juvenile justice system is not punitive in nature. The system does not seek to punish children and teens, but instead provides opportunities for rehabilitation and a brighter future. Still, penalties for serious delinquent acts can completely turn a family on its side and prevent a teen from accomplishing their goals alongside their peers.
The majority of teens adjudicated through the juvenile justice system face probation with terms and conditions that include maintaining good attendance at school and avoiding drugs and alcohol. They may need to pay restitution to the victim, for example, if they damaged their property by spray painting graffiti, destroying their mailbox, or engaging in similar destructive activities.
In general, the penalties for a delinquent act are relatively minor. A teen facing a juvenile allegation will never go to jail with adults. Some, though, will face confinement at a detention facility for juveniles or a child welfare facility.
How Can a Lawyer Help My Child?
While your child will not have a criminal record because they committed a minor illegal act as a teen, there is still a stigma associated with being a “juvenile delinquent.” We understand that children sometimes make mistakes, and they can often learn from those mistakes without the juvenile justice system stepping in.
When we examine the circumstances surrounding your teen’s actions and their interactions with police, we can better explain the likely outcomes based on the facts of their case. We can also begin to build a defense on their behalf, arguing they do not deserve consequences that might interfere with their education or future job prospects.
While we can handle almost any type of juvenile delinquent act, some of the most common we see include:
- Possession of marijuana;
- Possession of other drugs;
- Underage drinking;
- Underage drunk driving charges;
- Shoplifting and theft;
- Hacking or other computer crimes;
- Serious driving-related offenses;
- Property damage;
- Disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace; and
- Sex crimes, including sexting or other technology-related crimes.
Contact a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Child’s Case Today.
At the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., we know how worrisome it can be when your child faces legal trouble, but we also know how the juvenile justice system works in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. We can use that knowledge to help you fight for a positive outcome for your teen.
No matter if your child has an extensive history of run-ins with police or if this the first time they face allegations of a delinquent act, we will defend them aggressively using the strategy that gives them the best shot at a bright future.
If you have questions or concerns about your teen’s illegal behavior or if they already have a pending case stemming from a delinquent action, we are here for your family. We can answer your questions and explain the steps we need to take to protect your child’s rights. Reach out to our juvenile criminal defense team today by calling (610) 991-7219.