When you think of “domestic violence,” you might imagine one adult behaving aggressively towards another. But what happens when it's a minor who stands accused of domestic violence?
If you're in this situation, retain a criminal defense attorney immediately for legal representation. In the meantime, here's how juvenile domestic violence allegations work.
What Is Domestic Violence?
There's no strict definition of domestic violence in Pennsylvania. Under Title 23 of Pennsylvania's Criminal Code, domestic violence includes various aggressive actions taking place between:
- Family members
- Household members
- Intimate partners
- Those who have children in common
Actions that may constitute domestic violence include physical assault or behavior which makes another person reasonably fear for their safety.
What Happens When a Juvenile Is Accused of Domestic Violence?
Juveniles can commit the same acts – such as assault and battery – as adults. The difference is in how the criminal and civil courts handle these juvenile offenses.
- In Pennsylvania, any person older than 10 but younger than 18 can be charged with acts of “delinquency” rather than “criminal” charges. It's unusual for juveniles to be charged with adult criminal acts; however, it does happen in severe cases.
- Domestic violence allegations can lead to criminal charges in adult court, and so they're taken extremely seriously at the juvenile level.
- If a young person stands accused of acts amounting to domestic violence, the emphasis is on rehabilitating the child and reforming their behavior rather than punishing them.
- As part of the process, it may be possible for the juvenile to enter a detention facility, counseling, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, or a residential center for children with behavioral issues.
The exact process for how domestic violence allegations are handled will vary depending on the nature of the allegations, the age of the child, and the circumstances surrounding the case. An experienced juvenile defense attorney can walk you through what to expect during this confusing time and what defenses may be available.
When Can a Juvenile Ever Be Tried as an Adult?
Young people typically move through the juvenile justice system. However, a minor may be tried as an adult if the offense is particularly serious or if it's in the public interest to move them into the adult criminal courts.
If there's a chance your child may face adult criminal charges for acts of domestic violence, seek out an experienced juvenile defense attorney who will do their utmost to secure the most favorable outcome in the circumstances.
Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you're a young person facing abuse allegations from within your own family, or you're concerned about what might happen to your child, it's crucial you get legal representation immediately. Criminal defense attorney Joseph Lento has successfully defended juveniles against various complex charges, and he's ready to help your family now.
Juvenile charges can significantly affect a young person's prospects. Attorney Joseph Lento is willing to fight your corner – contact the Lento Law Firm now at 888.535.3686 or tell us about your case online.