Under Pennsylvania law, providing certain exceptions, individuals who are between ages 10 and 17 will face charges at the juvenile level when they are charged with a crime. Juveniles who face charges are entitled to similar means for justice under the law as adults. In Chester County, matters of juvenile offenses are resolved in the Juvenile Justice Division of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, located in West Chester, PA. Chester County focuses on restorative justice and post-delinquency education to administer juvenile justice.
Juvenile Offenses in Chester County
When a juvenile faces charges, the court will conduct a brief hearing process. This process will be similar in some respects to that encountered in the adult criminal justice system. Most commonly, a juvenile will face two hearings: an adjudication hearing, and if necessary, a disposition hearing. At an adjudication hearing, a juvenile will be held to answer for their alleged crimes by a judge and prosecutor. The prosecutor will attempt to prove that the juvenile committed a "delinquent" act beyond a reasonable doubt. If a juvenile is proven guilty of a "delinquency," the case will then move forward to a disposition hearing. A disposition hearing can be likened to a sentencing hearing in a criminal matter. The judge will decide what method of "sentencing," or disposition, is appropriate for the juvenile. This can be either confinement to a juvenile detention center or a period of juvenile probation under court supervision. The judge will take into account a number of factors when deciding whether or not detention is appropriate, including the severity of the crime, the juvenile's willingness to cooperate with prospective Chester County Juvenile Court services, and any history of offenses.
Juvenile Probation in Chester County
When a juvenile is found delinquent, if the judge believes probation is appropriate at the disposition hearing, the court will assign a juvenile probation officer to the case. The juvenile probation officer will act similarly to an adult probation officer. Among other conditions of probation supervision, this means regular check-ins and likely drug testing will be involved. In addition to supervision by a probation officer, the court may also suggest certain programs for the juvenile to participate in as part of their probation. These programs are often rehabilitative, restorative, and educational in nature. A probation officer will measure a juvenile's participation and adjustment in these programs as a term of their probation as well.
The Chester County Juvenile Probation Department is located in the Chester County Courthouse, 201 W. Market Street, Suite 3100, West Chester, PA 19380.
Chester County Juvenile Defense Attorney | West Chester Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney
Juvenile Court can be a frightening and confusing process for a younger child and his or her parents. Prosecutors see many juvenile cases and may offer little compassion for a child who makes a mistake, even a first offender. In addition, the Chester County Prosecutor's Office will use similar tactics for juvenile cases as they do with adult cases to secure convictions. For these reasons, a juvenile's best defense rests in the hands of an experienced criminal defense and juvenile 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 West Chester, 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 Chester County Juvenile Court, the judge, the Juvenile Division of the Chester 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 frontlines 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.