Adolescents often seem to have a magnet for trouble. Whether it’s peer pressure or sowing wild oats, a prank that got out of hand or just juvenile stupidity, teenagers can make a single mistake that can affect their lives for years to come. As a parent, you want your child to learn that actions have consequences, but you also want them to have a fair chance to move forward and put the past behind them.
Some juvenile offenses can only be committed by minors, and are known as “status” offenses. These include such violations as minors in possession or falsifying an ID to purchase alcohol.
Juveniles can also be charged with acts that are illegal for anyone to commit, such as:
• Drug offenses, from possession or trafficking to manufacturing or cultivation
• DUI or driving while intoxicated
• Violent offenses, such as assault and battery, or weapons crimes
• Theft crimes, such as shoplifting or auto theft
• Vandalism or malicious destruction of property
Because the juvenile court system puts greater emphasis on rehabilitation than punishment, the penalties that minors face, if convicted, are generally less severe. A minor is less likely to face incarceration of substantial fines, and more likely to be sentenced to community service or to counseling or similar diversionary programs. Nonetheless, the ramifications can be serious and long-lasting. A minor may be disqualified from certain types of educational opportunities, or may not be allowed to work in some fields.
Juvenile offenses may be treated in a number of different ways in Pennsylvania. You may be required to attend a detention or probation hearing, an adjudication and disposition, or a direct file and transfer. There are also Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) opportunities for minors.
At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, all prospective clients are entitled to a free initial consultation. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.