The Juvenile Justice System – Part 1

August 9, 2018By Brian Manchester

Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Concept & Terms

The juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania is focused more on the rehabilitative needs of the juvenile than on punishment for the offense.  Because of this difference from “adult” court, the words used in the juvenile system may not be familiar to those who watch Law and Order and see trials with defendants.  This week I will be explaining the different terms that are used in the juvenile justice system.  In the following weeks I will be explaining the different processes that are used in the juvenile justice system and the possible outcomes in the system.

The first thing to know are the terms that are used in the system and what they mean:

  1. a “juvenile” is a person who is between 10 and 21 years old.[1]
  2. A “delinquent act” is any act that would be a crime if committed by an adult. [2] However certain offenses, if committed by someone at least 15 years of age, do not fall under this definition and may be filed in “adult” court.  In those cases, the juvenile would be treated the same an any other adult who was charged with those offense.
  3. A “written allegation” is a document filed by law enforcement alleging that a juvenile has committed a delinquent act. [3]
  4. A “Petition” is a document filed by the Commonwealth or a juvenile probation officer which alleges that a juvenile is “delinquent”[4]
  5. A “delinquent child” is juvenile who had been found to have committed a delinquent act AND is in need of treatment, supervision or rehabilitation.[5]
  6. An “adjudication hearing” is a proceeding where the Court determines if a delinquent act has been committed and whether the juvenile is in need of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation. [6]  A juvenile is not entitled to a jury in these proceedings and will always appear before a Judge sitting without a jury.
  7. A “disposition hearing” is a proceeding in which the court issues its final decisions in the case.[7] Possible dispositions include supervision by the probation department and placement in treatment facilities.
  8. A “detention facility” is a facility which is approved by the Court to temporarily detain a juvenile.[8]
  9. If a Juvenile is “detained” a hearing, generally referred to as a detention hearing, must be held by the Court within 72 hours to determine if the detention is proper and whether the detention should continue.[9]

Next week I will discuss the process that occurs if your child is alleged to have committed a delinquent act.

*Information contained in this blog does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship.  You should always obtain counsel to address the specific circumstances in your case.

[1]  Pa.R.J.C.P. No. 120

[2] 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6302

[3] Pa.R.J.C.P. No.120

[4] Pa.R.J.C.P. No.120

[5] 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6302

[6] Pa.R.J.C.P. No. 401

[7] Pa.R.J.C.P. 120

[8] Pa.R.J.C.P. 120

[9] Pa.R.J.C.P. 240

Posted in: Criminal Defense , Juvenile

Tags: Criminal Defense, Juvenile, Juvenile Justice System,

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About the Author

Brian Manchester is the owner of Manchester and Associates in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. His law firm practices DUI and Criminal Defense exclusively throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania in both state and federal court. He has a team of two other lawyers with a combined 50 years of trial and courtroom experience are also trained in science and many other skills that are relevant to criminal defense to include the psychology of persuasion as well. One of his associates is a former District Attorney (chief prosecutor) in central Pennsylvania.   Mr. Manchester and his team routinely handle serious felony cases including murder, manslaughter, sex crimes, complex financial crimes, and serious assaults. A large part of Mr. Manchester’s practice is the defense of alcohol and drug-based DUI offenses as well as drug cases using science and analytical chemistry. Mr. Manchester has training as a Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Instructor. He is one of a handful of Certified Lawyer-Scientists as recognized by the American Chemical Society in the United States. He is a member of NCDD and is a Founding Member of DUIDLA. He is also a member of the American Chemical Society with over 170,000 members across the world. To date, he is the only practicing criminal defense lawyer to belong to the Society of Forensic Toxicologist where he is an Associate Member. Mr. Manchester speaks nationally on the topic of blood and drug testing for alcohol as well as the metrological (measurement uncertainty) in forensic testing.

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