Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania teenager, Nehemiah Gonzalez, was charged as an adult after opening fire on someone during a drug deal turned robbery. Allegedly, Gonzalez, 17 years old, and the victim met at the park for a pre-planned drug deal when Gonzalez pointed a gun at the victim's head with the supposed intention of robbing him. The victim tried to drive away, so Gonzalez opened fire on him. While the victim was not hit, a stray bullet did hit a nearby house.
In Pennsylvania, juvenile courts have the power to transfer certain cases into the adult court system. If you or someone you love is a minor that's been charged as an adult, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Criminal Defense Team can help. Call today.
Pennsylvania Juvenile Court to Adult Court
There are a few different ways a juvenile court can send transfer a case up to the adult court system, including requesting either a discretional, presumptive, or statutory waiver.
In Pennsylvania, if a child is at least 14 years old and is accused of a felony, the juvenile court can move the case to the adult court system if they think it will better protect the public interest. But there are specific factors the court must consider making this decision, including:
- Does the minor show a willingness for treatment, supervision, and rehabilitation?
- Has the prosecution shown evidence that proves the public interest would be better served if the transfer did happen, and did the child disagree with the idea of being supervised, treated, and rehabilitated?
For this waiver to take effect, the minor must be at least 14 years old and used a deadly weapon while committing the felony, or if they are 15 years old or older and committed any serious offense (like rape or assault), then there is a presumption that public interest would be better served by transferring the case.
Under Pennsylvania law, there are certain situations where a minor will always be charged as an adult, including cases where the minor committed murder, voluntary manslaughter, or used a deadly weapon to commit the crime.
How an Experienced Criminal Attorney Can Help
In this case, though, if Gonzalez had been arrested for simply purchasing drugs, it would most likely have been considered a misdemeanor – which is unlikely to be transferred to adult court. However, he did pull a weapon on the victim and opened fire, with a stray bullet hitting an unsuspecting citizen's home, prompting the prosecution to request a presumptive waiver. Unfortunately, this means that Gonzalez could be subject to much more substantial punishments than he would have been in juvenile court.
Therefore, it is so important to reach out to a qualified criminal attorney the moment you are arrested. Attorney Lento and his Criminal Defense Team have spent years helping defendants gather evidence and witnesses to best present their arguments. He understands how difficult and overwhelming these proceedings can be and will work tirelessly to ensure you the best possible outcome for your case.
Juveniles deserve every chance at rehabilitating from their mistakes. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.
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