Juvenile Delinquency law in Pennsylvania is governed by the Juvenile Act which can be found 42 Pa.C.S.A. Chapter 63. A child under 18 who is charged with an act that would constitute a criminal offense if he was an adult is said to have committed a “delinquent act.” It is an important distinction since the Juvenile Justice System is specially designed to provide for the supervision, care and rehabilitation of a delinquent youth while providing protection for the public interest.
That being said, accused Juveniles are afforded almost all of the same rights afforded to an accused Adult. A Juvenile should have an attarney representing him at all critical stages of the legal process. A Juvenile has the right against Self-Incrimination, the right against unreasonable Search and Siezure and the Expectation of Privacy in his person and property. A Juvenile accused of a delinquent act may inspect the evidence against him, cross-examine witnesses against him and testify on his own behalf. One significant difference, however, is that there is no Right to a Jury Trial in Juvenile Court.
In Berks County, PA the community is lucky to have a Juvenile Justice System that is among the best in the state, if not the nation. The lives of wayward youths are regularly turned around through the efforts of the Judiciary, the Juvenile Probation Office and attarneys. As a young attarney in the Public Defender’s Office I was assigned to Juvenile Court for about a year. During that time I represented hundreds of young people accused of delinquent acts. The types of allegations ran the gamut from Rapes, Robberies and Drug Delivery to schoolyard fights and DUI. In private practice I have continued to zealously advocate for the rights of children. As the former President Judge of Berks County once told me – a Juvenile Defense attarney must wear many hats. Advocate, Counselor, Social Worker among them. I relish the opportunity to continue to work in the Juvenile Justice System. Please call our office for a free consultation if your child is charged with a delinquent act.