When a minor commits a crime as a juvenile, it can mean a criminal record for the rest of his or her life. If you are a parent, you want what's best for your child, and though there are programs available to prevent a criminal record -- it still stands that it can be a consequence. It is in your child's best interest to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who has worked specifically with minors and juvenile offenses.
Joseph D. Lento is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia. He has been representing juvenile offenses for more than 15 years. His experience is vast and varied and includes but is not limited to the following juvenile offenses:
- DUI / Alcohol
- Fake IDs
- Sexual Assault
- Underage Drug Offenses
- Violation of Probation
- Juvenile Traffic Violations.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento worked as a juvenile probation officer for the Philadelphia Juvenile Probation Department while he studied law at Temple University's Beasley School of Law. In fact, part of the reason he became an attorney was to continue the work his work helping youthful offenders move forward in life.
Definition of a Juvenile Delinquent in Philadelphia
When a child under the age of 18 but typically older than 10 years old commits an act that would be considered a crime if an adult committed it, then that child has allegedly committed a “delinquent act.” If proven guilty of the act, the child is a juvenile delinquent.
Juvenile Delinquent Process in Philadelphia
The start of the delinquent process for a minor is usually Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system. When a minor is arrested, he or she is not typically detained unless he or she:
- committed a felony;
- poses as a flight risk; or
- poses a threat to the public.
The parent will be contacted and will usually be allowed to take custody of the child after the police have taken down identifying information and have filed the charges.
Within 72 hours, a preliminary hearing will be held. This hearing will determine if there is enough evidence to support the charge. If so, a formal adjudication hearing is set. While the juvenile awaits the adjudication hearing if he or she is between the ages of 13 and 18, then he or she may be held at the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center (PJJSC), which is located at 91 North 48th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139.
At these hearings, the District Attorney will represent the Commonwealth. It is advised that the juvenile's family retains an attorney to represent the child. In these cases, a judge (also known as a Master in juvenile proceedings) presides -- there is no constitutional right to a jury.
To note, when a minor is charged with a summary offense or a violent crime, he or she may be tried in an adult court as opposed to juvenile court.
"Punishment" & Juvenile Probation in Philadelphia
The adjudication hearing does not find the child guilty or not guilty -- rather, the court finds the juvenile delinquent or not. If found to be delinquent, the judge has a set of sentencing options, also referred to as disposition orders. Sentencing options include but are not limited to:
- Probation, which is the most common;
- Confinement in a juvenile detention facility;
- Removal to a child welfare facility.
If sent to PJJSC as part of the disposition order, the juvenile has access to educational programs, social services, medical services, behavioral health services, and recreational activities. The focus is on rehabilitation and prevention as opposed to punishment.
Philadelphia Juvenile Defense Attorney
Joseph D. Lento has the insight and resources to develop a compassionate and smart approach to your child's case. He understands the law and knows how to use it to maximize your child's chances of an outcome most favorable to him or her. Contact the Lento Law Firm today either online or at 215-535-5353 to set up a consultation and learn more about how Joseph D. Lento may be able to help your child if he or she has been charged with a juvenile offense.