Who among us hasn't made a youthful mistake? While we all can admit to giving in to a youthful impulse, sometimes these lapses can come with serious consequences: juvenile criminal offense charges. Such charges can impact your child's education, career, and future. An experienced juvenile defense attorney is an important tool if you find yourself in this position; you may be unaware of all the options you and your child actually do have. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer at your side, you can protect your child's best interests.
If your child is currently facing charges in Doylestown or Bucks County, criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento is here to defend your child.
Doylestown/Bucks County Juvenile Defense Attorney
Joseph Lento has dedicated his legal career to defending adults and juveniles from a range of criminal charges. He knows what could await your child on the other side of conviction or adjudication, as well as what moves to make now to avoid this.
If your child has been accused of a juvenile offense such as drug charges, theft, violent crimes, or sex crimes, contact the Lento Law Firm. Call (888) 535-3686 today to schedule your initial case consultation today.
Bucks County Delinquency Process
Pennsylvania attempts to rehabilitate children should they be charged with criminal offenses. If a minor is charged with an offense, a delinquency petition is issued against that minor. A judge, rather than a jury, will determine if the juvenile committed the illegal behavior.
If the judge does in fact determine that the juvenile is a "delinquent child", a date will be set for a disposition hearing. At the disposition hearing, the child will learn about the consequences he or she may face. Juvenile matters are handled at the Bucks County Juvenile Court, located at:
30 E. Court Street, 3rd Floor
Doylestown, PA 18901
Bucks County maintains a Dress and Conduct Code, which states that: "All participants must dress appropriately to maintain the dignity, decorum and professional atmosphere of the judicial branch of our government."
Bucks County Juvenile Offenses
The prosecutor will bring most charges against minors through the Juvenile Division of the Bucks County Office of the District Attorney. The purpose of this prosecutor is to prove that the child should be adjudicated "delinquent", rather than trying to prove someone is "guilty" of a crime, as seen in the adult criminal justice system.
PA law defines a "juvenile" as as any person 10 years or older but under the age of 18 at the time the alleged offense was committed. However, it is important to note that just because an individual is under the age of 18 at the time an alleged crime was committed, that individual is not guaranteed to be charged as a juvenile. Depending on the circumstances of the case, some teenagers may be charged as an adult. (If your son or daughter is charged as an adult, the following process will not be applicable.)
The first step in the process is an adjudication hearing. At this hearing, the judge will to determine whether the child should be determined delinquent. At this hearing, the child will enter an "admission" to the conduct or the juvenile will contest the charges against him or her.
The judge will determine whether sufficient evidence exists that the juvenile did commit the offense. This purpose of this hearing is only to determine if sufficient evidence exists to make it to the next stage.
The next step will be the disposition hearing. During a disposition hearing, a juvenile judge will determine whether the juvenile committed the offense charged. A disposition hearing does not involve a jury; the judge makes the final decision. The Commonwealth will present evidence. Your child's lawyer may cross-examine any witnesses and present evidence to demonstrate that the child did not commit the offense.
Please note, these processes are for individuals under the age of 18 who are charged as juveniles; if your child has been charged with an offense as an adult, this will not be the process.
Bucks County Juvenile Penalties
Penalties ordered by the court may include one or more of the following:
- Community service
- House arrest
- Random drug testing
- Substance abuse treatment programs
- Temporary revocation of driving privileges
- Time in a juvenile detention center
Juvenile Probation in Bucks County
Juvenile probation is intended to encourage minors to reach certain goals. If a child has been adjudicated delinquent, Bucks County will appoint a Juvenile Probation Officer for supervision.
While under supervision, rules such as a curfew or randomized drug testing may be imposed upon a juvenile. Additionally, a treatment plan will be implemented. A Bucks County Juvenile Probation Officer will set goals for each juvenile. Such goals can include things such as service hours or rehabilitative program participation. The JPO will also meet with the juvenile at regular intervals. Bucks County programs for juveniles can involve counseling, community involvement/services, job development, drug testing, medication, and regular evaluations.
Pretrial Diversion Programs
A pretrial diversion program may be available to certain juveniles, depending on the circumstances of the case. In a pretrial diversion program, the child will agree to specific requirements.
If your child complies with the requirements, there is no trial, and there will be no need to worry about a criminal record. Your defense attorney can advise you whether or not your child may be eligible for a pretrial diversion program.
Doylestown Juvenile Defense Lawyer
If your child has been accused of a crime in the Doylestown or the Bucks County area, it is highly recommended that you seek out an experienced juvenile offense attorney. Joseph Lento is passionate about helping juvenile charges through the system and not letting a youthful mistake have lasting repercussions.
See how the Lento Law Firm can help you. Call (888) 535-3686 today.