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The concept behind Juvenile Court feels quite jarring and regrettable since it is a division of the law that is there to handle criminal charges and violations related to minors.
Of course, the court does handle other types of juvenile issues, such as adoption, but everyone knows that it is there to discipline and set these young individuals on the straight path.
The Juvenile Court branch belongs to the Family Division of The Court of Common Pleas, as far as Philadelphia is concerned. This is considered the main court that handles all family matters with a focus on caring for the needs of children and their families. It just so happens that juvenile delinquency must also be dealt with because it is a sad reality.
The incidents of criminal or questionable behavior committed by kids under 18 years of age is quite large, which is part of the reason this branch of the court system in Philadelphia is hard to navigate without proper representation.
Juvenile Court handles a number of cases, and the following is meant to highlight some of those types of cases:
Under 18 But Tried as Adults
One type of case these courts are meant to handle are cases where the young person committed a crime so harsh that many are asking for the juvenile to be tried as an adult.
It may sound bad, but sometimes, kids commit crimes that are simply too serious to ignore, and the punishment that Juvenile Court can give out is simply not sufficient. The fate of this person is decided in Juvenile Court before the kid is able to be tried as an adult by another court.
Problems With Truancy
Juvenile Court will also deal with truancy. Sometimes, kids miss school through no fault of their own, and the parents are put on trial, but there are other times when the parents do everything possible to correct their children’s behavior with no success.
These kids continue to skip school and get caught. At some point, the kid is charged and must appear in front of a judge in the court in order to receive a corrective punishment.
A Focus on Substance Abuse
Kids who are found under the influence have to be charged as well, not mention kids who attempt to buy drugs or substances that are not intended for them.
These are other types of cases that are addressed by this type of course. The punishments vary from fines to time served. It really depends on the severity of the offence and how many times the junior has been in trouble with the law.
Dealing With Neglect or Abuse
Most of the time, these courts are used to charge children with a particular type of crime, but sometimes, it is the other way around. There are times when it is the child who is bringing adults to court to present a case for abuse or even neglect.
Both of these are regrettable situations, but they must be dealt with swiftly in order to protect the child or children involved. The damage done by either one of these actions cannot be undone, but hopefully, there is still time to mend.
These are just some of the types of cases that Juvenile Court in Philadelphia handles, but there are others. It may be a good idea to talk to a lawyer that specializes in these types of cases to find out more.
What Could Happen to Kids who are Tried?
The juvenile system’s primary focus is not really to punish but to try to correct the course for each kid that comes into the system. The court is going to try to rehabilitate the minor so that he or she makes better choices in the future.
The court is also going to do its best to try to fix a problem at home that might be hurting the child’s well-being. Of course, the court is not going to forget about the community where this child lives. If the crimes these children are committing puts others in danger, then the court is going to take action to protect others.
Sometimes, the action comes in the form of having the child placed in foster care where they can receive counseling. There are other times when the judge does not see any other option but to place the child in a detention center though these centers do still offer counseling for the youth.
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.