If your child is arrested in Pennsylvania, he or she has the right to an attorney at every stage in the juvenile process. You as the parent have the right to know exactly what charges your child is facing and what evidence the state has to prove those charges. However, you should be aware of the fact that juvenile court and adult court are very different. In juvenile court, the judge tries to determine why your child is there, why your child has been accused of committing crimes, and the judge is trying to put things in place to keep your child from committing crimes or being accused of committing crimes once they become an adult.
Juvenile matters are often resolved in what we call non-trial disposition. In a non-trial disposition, the judge could order the child to have counseling or to be involved in special programs that are often offered through the child’s school. If in fact, your child is not qualified for non-trial disposition, then your child will be entitled to a hearing just as if they were an adult.
A juvenile trial is called an adjudicatory hearing. At the adjudicatory hearing, you could hire an attorney to cross-examine witnesses for the Commonwealth and that attorney could call witnesses and produce evidence on your child’s behalf. If your child is actually convicted after an adjudicatory hearing, he or she would be considered a delinquent.
As a delinquent, the judge would be able to sentence your child. The judge’s sentence may be, again, putting your child in special programs, allowing your child to go back to the home, live in the home, and participate in these programs over a period of time, which will be called probation. In very serious crimes, the judge may order your child to be removed from the home and placed in a juvenile detention program.
If you have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania and require strong legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney, contact The Conner Law Group to schedule a consultation today.