Juvenile offenses are considered crimes committed by individuals aged 10 to 17, prior to legal adulthood. Most of the time, juveniles will be charged at the juvenile level, instead of at the adult level. Juvenile charges are resolved in Berks County are resolved within the Berks County Court of Common Pleas located in Reading, Pennsylvania. The court will utilize appropriate measures for adjudicating and assigning proper sentencing to individuals charged with a juvenile offense.
Juvenile Offenses in Berks County
When a person is charged with a juvenile offense, the court must adjudicate the matter. In these matters, the Berks County Court will engage in a hearing process similar to a criminal proceeding, however, the State will attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a juvenile was "delinquent" rather than guilty of a crime. In addition, the juvenile offense will be filed as a delinquency, rather than a conviction. Berks County operates on a principle of "Evidence Based Practices (EBP)" when practicing forms of Juvenile Justice. The court will also make use of a "Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)" principle in assigning any sanctions, probation, or sentencing.
Juvenile Probation in Berks County
If a juvenile is found to be delinquent, the Berks County Court will take certain steps to administer their sentencing. In certain situations, the child may be placed in a juvenile detention center, if this is deemed necessary following a disposition hearing. In Berks County, the juvenile detention center is Abraxas Academy, and a juvenile may be assigned there depending on the severity of their violations. The court will consider several factors in determining whether or not a juvenile will be detained. These factors include the severity of the offense, prior offenses, history of escape, history of failure to appear in court, and the juvenile's overall cooperation with the court. If a juvenile is found to be delinquent, they will undergo a screening using the county's Detention Assessment Instrument (DAI) to determine whether or not juvenile detention will be appropriate or helpful for their case. The overall goal of the Juvenile Probation Office is to provide guidance and fairness in these cases.
If the court deems that a juvenile is eligible for probation, a juvenile probation officer will be assigned. In Berks County, the Juvenile Probation Office will make use of a "Motivational Interviewing" tactic to attempt to guide the juvenile to a more corrected behavior. Outside of commitment to a detention center, the court may assign a juvenile to a period of probation and involvement in the county's rehabilitative programs. These programs include Community Youth Aid Panels, Mentoring & the Arts Program (MAP), an Impact of Crime Class, a Restitution and Incentive Program, D.R.E.A.M., and more. The program selected will depend on the crime committed.
The Berks County Juvenile Probation Department is located at 633 Court Street, #10, Reading, PA 19601.
Berks County Juvenile Defense Attorney | Reading Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento worked as a juvenile probation officer while attending Temple University's Beasley School of Law at night, and he became an attorney to continue the work he started years earlier - helping youthful offenders move forward in life. Helping young people has always been a focus of Joseph Lento's professional career; through his work with the juvenile court system, his work in the education field, and for close to a decade, representing juvenile clients faced with delinquent and criminal offenses. Joseph Lento advocates for his juvenile clients not only with the philosophy of helping young people move forward in life in mind, but also in his heart.
Juveniles who are facing delinquency proceedings in Reading, and their parents and families, can be overwhelmed by what takes place. The stakes can be high, and Joseph Lento leverages his experience in the juvenile justice system to allow his juvenile clients to move forward from what is often a regrettable mistake, and to also help their families get through what is often their most difficult time in life. He knows how to approach the Berks County Juvenile Court, the judge, the Juvenile Division of the Berks County District Attorney's Office, and the juvenile probation officer, and he is not satisfied until he gets his juvenile clients and their families the best possible result. Joseph's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's juvenile offense from all angles and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any juvenile client and their families.