Juvenile crimes in Pennsylvania are also referred to as “delinquent acts”. Delinquent acts are acts that, had they been committed by an adult, would be considered criminal acts. The law handles these acts differently when they are committed by children.
If a child is found to have committed a delinquent act in juvenile court, it is different than being convicted of a crime. The reason it is different is because children are protected to a certain extent under the law. Their records will be sealed, and they will not serve time in adult jails. The goal is to ultimately rehabilitate these children into law abiding citizens.
Summary offenses are particular kinds of offenses that are found in the adult criminal code and can be committed by both juveniles and adults. These are often less serious offenses like underage drinking or minor shoplifting under $150 in value. This means that both children and adults (over age 18) can be found guilty of these offenses, but juveniles will not be arrested for them, while an adult may serve jail time.
Juvenile Cases in Adult Court
Any child who commits murder will be tried as an adult in Pennsylvania. Additionally, any child ages 15 or older will be tried as an adult if they use a deadly weapon, or has been found delinquent for certain prior offenses like rape, aggravated assault, robbery, kidnapping, or voluntary manslaughter.
Juvenile Justice System
Under the juvenile justice system ( http://www.pccd.pa.gov/Juvenile-Justice/Pages/default.aspx#.VbD6-bNVhBc) in Pennsylvania, if arrested, the child will not be held in jail like an adult, unless the child is a flight risk or does not have parents or guardians available to be responsible for them. Then, there will be a hearing within 72 hours. If there is sufficient evidence, there will be an adjudication in juvenile court with no jury.
A judge can assign different punishments after juvenile adjudications. Usually, juveniles are put on probation. In more serious cases, they may be sent to a juvenile detention facility. They may also have to pay restitution to victims and court fees.
If your child has been charged with a juvenile offense, call a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer right away. Juveniles may be defended by an attorney in their hearings, and you want someone with experience handling juvenile crimes assisting your child throughout the process to protect your child’s rights.