JUVENILE MATTERS IN PENNSYLVANIA
In Pennsylvania, a person accused of a crime is considered to be a juvenile if they were under the age of 18 years at the time the offense occurred. Representing a juvenile who is accused of a criminal offense – which is known as a “juvenile delinquency matter” in Juvenile Court – is a specialized type of legal practice. The procedures for charging a juvenile with an offense are often different than with adults, the court procedures in Juvenile Court are different than in adult court, and the sentencing options – called “dispositions” in Juvenile Court – are different in Juvenile Court than they are in adult court. Even the legal vocabulary is different in Juvenile Court than it is in adult criminal court.
Juveniles, naturally, have less maturity, judgment and life experience than adults do, so they are particularly vulnerable to not safeguarding their legal rights (or having their legal rights safeguarded for them), especially at the earliest stages of the criminal process, when they are not yet represented by an attorney and are easily persuaded, or intimidated, to make statements against their legal interests by adults who either have authority over them or who they trust. This can have a very serious effect on how a juvenile delinquency case is ultimately decided.
Many parents are under the mistaken impression that a juvenile delinquency record never follows a person once they reach the age of 18 years. But that is often not the case – in fact, the consequences of a juvenile delinquency finding and disposition – the Juvenile Court equivalent of a criminal conviction and sentence – can be severe and can potentially follow a person for the rest of their life.
The trial attorneys at Rick Stock Law have decades of experience in criminal defense, and in the defense of juveniles charged with criminal delinquency in Juvenile Court. If you are a parent or guardian of a juvenile who has been charged, or is even being investigated, for a possible criminal offense, the legal process happens very quickly, time is very much of the essence, and the juvenile needs an attorney as soon as possible. Give our office a call at 484-272-5133 and ask to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.