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SKA Law takes on fewer clients than other firms – it’s because we believe that taking on fewer clients means we can provide more service, and better results.
Our firm has over 25 years of combined legal practice. Our Philadelphia criminal attorneys have been recognized by the top lawyer ranking services.
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We take on fewer clients than other firms. Each client works 1:1 on with one of our senior attorneys.
No parent ever wants to receive a phone call or a visit to their home revealing that their son or daughter has been charged and arrested with committing a crime. If this happens to you, many emotions will flood through your mind. If this is the first time something like this has happened, shock might best describe what you are feeling. You may also become embarrassed, depressed, or angry all at the same time.
Once that initial moment of hearing the news settles in, you will probably be a bit apprehensive about what comes next. You want to do what is best for your child, but some things now will be out of your control. The term that we use to describe what your son or daughter is going through at this moment is juvenile delinquency. This means that someone under the age of 18 has committed a crime that would be considered to be a criminal offense if they were a legal adult. The laws might be different for a juvenile, but the charges are serious nonetheless.
The Difference Between Being Juvenile and Adult
There are some key distinctions in Pennsylvania law related to what happens to a juvenile when a crime has been committed. In most cases, there are some key differences. The first is that there is an entirely different justice system for someone who is charged as a juvenile than for someone charged as an adult. Your child will attend hearings at a separate court from adults, and the judges that preside over those proceedings will tend to have different objectives as well.
One of the main goals of the adult criminal justice system is to punish. If you do the crime, you are meant to do that time. However, it is different for juveniles. The goal here is centered more on rehabilitation. Judges tend to take a more individualistic approach to each case when determining the appropriate sentence. Because a juvenile is viewed to still have many more productive years ahead of them, the state would rather them see them diverted to programs that quickly help them to change their behavior as opposed to simply remanding them to prison right away.
You will notice that even much of the terminology used in a juvenile court is different than you would expect to hear in the adult system. One example is that a juvenile will not typically be found guilty of committing a crime. Instead, the court will state that they have committed a juvenile act. As opposed to attending a court trial, the juvenile offender will attend an adjudication hearing.
You will also find that juveniles have more protections afforded to them under the law than an adult typically would. Because they are considered to be children according to the law, the justice system will look for ways to rehabilitate as opposed to punish. Of course, much of this has to do with the remorse that is expressed by the juvenile and the nature of the crime itself. It is also important to note that a juvenile record is typically sealed. This means that nobody outside the court system will have access to it after they turn 18 years of age. This is not like an adult felony conviction that never goes away.
Why Do You Need A Lawyer?
You might be thinking that with all of these protections in place that your son or daughter does not need a lawyer. This is not the case. Keep in mind that juveniles do not have the right to a jury trial. They also do not have the option of bail. Almost everything will be up to the judge in the case. You will want a lawyer fighting for your child at every hearing to ensure that the evidence is properly introduced and that any possible sentence is reduced as much as possible. This is what your lawyer will fight for.