Philadelphia Juvenile Delinquency Lawyers
If your son or daughter has been charged with a delinquent act, we can help. The juvenile justice system is extremely complicated, and juvenile records can be permanent in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys of Goldstein Mehta LLC represent minors charged with delinquent acts in Family Court juvenile delinquency proceedings. We have obtained successful outcomes for countless clients and helped many clients avoid adjudication, placement, and criminal records. If your son or daughter is charged with a delinquent act, it is critical that you hire an attorney with experience in Family Court and not just a lawyer who has experience representing adults.
What is Juvenile Delinquency in Pennsylvania?
In the Pennsylvania juvenile justice system, juveniles alleged to have committed acts which would be considered crimes when committed by adults are charged with committing a "delinquent act." Almost all criminal conduct other than a summary offense can be charged as a delinquent act once a child is ten or older.
Defenses to Juvenile Delinquency Charges
Juveniles charged with committing delinquent acts have many of the same rights that adults have when charged with committing crimes. For example, juvenile defendants have the right to a trial, the right to file pre-trial motions to suppress, and the right to have counsel present and advocate on their behalf. The most notable exception is that juveniles do not have the right to a jury trial. Therefore, a case will be heard by a Family Court judge sitting as the finder of fact unless the child is charged as an adult.
Differences Between Adult Criminal Charges and Juvenile Delinquency
The Family Court system is very different from the adult system because it focuses not only on whether a crime was committed, but also whether the child is in need of treatment, supervision, and rehabilitation. First, the Commonwealth must prove that the minor committed the delinquent act beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
Second, if the judge finds the juvenile guilty of committing the delinquent act, the judge must determine whether the child is in need of treatment, supervision, and rehabilitation. If so, the judge will adjudicate the defendant delinquent. In many cases involving first time offenders, our attorneys have been able to convince judges to defer adjudication for a short period of time and ultimately dismiss the case after the client has been able to successfully complete community service and/or probation. We have been able to do this in many cases even where the Commonwealth was able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed. Deferred adjudications are beneficial because they do not count as juvenile adjudications. Although the defendant was found guilty of the conduct, the juvenile was essentially not "convicted." The deferred adjudication will not count as a prior record, will not result in placement, and can be expunged.
Third, if the judge does adjudicate the defendant delinquent, the judge can decide what type of rehabilitation should be imposed. The judge can choose between probation, placement in a facility, community service, restitution, and other similar options. At this stage, it is important to have an experienced attorney who can gather information and investigate options which provide the judge with an alternative to placement.
Privacy of Juvenile Criminal Records in Pennsylvania
In general, juvenile arrests and adjudications are not public. Juvenile adjudications, cases that are dismissed, and deferred adjudications can all be expunged, with the exception of juvenile adjudications for certain serious sex offenses. However, it is still important to retain experienced defense counsel when your son or daughter is charged with a delinquent act in Family Court because juvenile adjudications can have long-lasting consequences. For example, adjudication could result in placement in a facility, a permanent record in the case of certain sex offenses like rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and a criminal record which can be used against the defendant if the defendant is later arrested as an adult. Many people believe that a juvenile record cannot later be used against them in adult court, but that is unfortunately incorrect. Therefore, it is critical to hire counsel that can help minimize the consequences of an arrest by avoiding adjudication and obtaining an outcome that can be expunged as quickly as possible.
Experienced Juvenile DELINQUENCY Defense Attorneys
Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience representing juveniles in Family Court. We have obtained acquittals, successfully litigated pre-trial motions to suppress, and negotiated for diversionary programs and deferred adjudications which do not result in a criminal record. We are also able to represent juveniles who are charged as adults in the Court of Common Pleas.
If your child has been charged with a crime or delinquent act in Philadelphia or the surrounding counties, you need an attorney with extensive experience navigating the unique aspects of the Family Court juvenile justice system. We have that experience, and we can give your child the attention and representation he or she needs to avoid the potential negative consequences of a juvenile adjudication. Call 267-225-2545 now for a complimentary 15-minute criminal defense strategy session.
CONTACT ONE A PHILADELPHIA JUVENILE DEFENSE LAWYERS NOW