If you have a child facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania, you're undoubtedly worried about what the possible outcome will mean to your child's future. Now, a recent report about a juvenile facility in Delaware County gives parents of incarcerated kids in Pennsylvania more cause for concern.
Delaware County Juvenile Facility Allegations
The state closed the Delaware County juvenile facility in 2021 after counselor's provided evidence to the state of inappropriate conduct at the facility, leading to a state investigation. After a grand jury investigation, the state produced a 208-page report detailing failures at the facility. While the report didn't recommend criminal charges, that was solely because the statute of limitations expired for bringing many cases to trial.
According to the report, kids, many of whom were at the facility while waiting for trial, were subject to:
- Sexual harassment,
- Seclusion for many hours at a time, when Pennsylvania law requires a court order for the seclusion of more than four hours,
- Violent behavior, including punches, kicks, chokes, and threats, and
- Guards who took advantage of gaps in the video surveillance system to hide violent and inappropriate conduct.
The report indicated that the county never approved the director's repeated requests for money to expand the surveillance system and never appointed a board to oversee the facility. State law requires board oversight of juvenile facilities.
Juvenile Proceedings in Pennsylvania
The process for criminal charges for juveniles in Pennsylvania differs from those for adults and often places children in a vulnerable position. A minor typically enters the state criminal justice system through a delinquency petition rather than criminal charges. When a police officer arrests your child, they will take them to a juvenile probation officer. As part of their intake, the probation officer will decide whether they should face a judge for the alleged crime.
If the police place your child in custody, they must notify you. While you don't have a right to be present during police questioning, your child has a right to an attorney, and you should retain a lawyer for them immediately. The court must also hold a hearing within three days, notifying you, your child, and their attorney about the details of the hearing.
Typically, children aren't detained before trial unless they face accusations of a violent crime or have prior charges. But there is no bail available for juveniles. If the court detains your child before trial, you can't bail them out, and they could end up in a juvenile detention facility like the Delaware County facility. You should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to have the best chance to protect your child and keep them out of detention.
You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
As a parent, you want to do everything possible for your child, including keeping them out of a dangerous juvenile detention system. If your child is facing criminal charges, you urgently need a skilled criminal defense attorney well-versed in handling juvenile cases to protect their rights. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the experienced team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping Pennsylvania families fight juvenile criminal charges for years. Find out how they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686, or contact them online to schedule your consultation.