Juvenile Law

Pennsylvania Juvenile Law

There are many concerns when a child is arrested. As a parent, you may be wondering how the arrest will affect your child's chances of getting into college or the impact of an arrest on future work prospects. Pennsylvania's court system is complex and challenging. Because the consequences of a conviction can be significant and life altering, you should not try to navigate the system alone. For over 30 years, Bucks County juvenile law attorney John M. Kenney has represented juveniles that have been arrested for criminal activities. He understands the challenges and concerns of both youth who have been arrested, as well as their parents. He represents Pennsylvania youth in Bristol, Morrisville, Fairless Hills, Yardley, Langhorne, and throughout Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

What is Juvenile Law?

Juveniles can be charged with the same misdemeanors and felonies as adults. Some of the more common charges in Levittown and Langhorne are shoplifting, theft and burglary, computer crimes, vandalism, under age drinking or DUI, assault and sex crimes like child molestation or rape. However, special rules apply to those under age 18. In most cases, they will not be found guilty or innocent as adults are. Rather, they can be adjudicated "delinquent" until age 18.

Summary offenses, which are less serious than a misdemeanor or a felony, are a little bit different. They are considered crimes, but they are minor—examples include disorderly conduct and retail theft (shoplifting) of property valued at $150 or less. Minors are not put in jail when found guilty of a summary offense, whereas an adult liable for the same offense could be liable for jail time up to 90 days. However, a youth who fails to comply with conditions ordered by the judge for committing summary offense may find themselves subject to proceedings in juvenile court.

When a minor who has been adjudicated delinquent turns 18, most misdemeanor charges will be expunged from his or her public record. However, a child's court record of felony charges remains intact and can be used against him or her in adult criminal proceedings. Juveniles may be tried as adults or transferred to adult prison once they turn 18.

Limited circumstances exist in which a juvenile will be transferred and tried in the adult criminal system. For example, anybody, including a child or teenager of any age, who is charged with the crime of murder will automatically be charged as an adult in Pennsylvania. Similarly, a minor 15 years or older at the time of an offense will be charged as an adult if he or she used a deadly weapon or has been previously adjudicated delinquent of such serious crimes as rape, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, kidnapping, robbery, or other types of attempted crimes and conspiracies.

Get a Pennsylvania Juvenile Lawyer on Your Side

Experienced Bucks County juvenile criminal defense lawyer John M. Kenney may be able to negotiate any charges against your child so that they are treated as lesser offenses that do not haunt your child as he or she grows into an adult. He can also offer clear, honest advice about the charges. There are instances in Levittown, Langhorne, Yardley, Morrisville, and Bristol where it may be wiser to take a plea rather than risk more serious penalties. Mr. Kenney will work hard to investigate all possible defenses in order to develop the best defense strategy. For a free initial consultation, contact Mr. Kenney at (215) 547-3031 or by completing our online form.