Do I need a Juvenile Lawyer
Why you need an experienced Pennsylvania Juvenile Lawyer
Learn about Juvenile Law, the impact it can have on your child, their future and the importance of gaining the guidance, experience and advocacy of determined juvenile lawyers. The juvenile law team at Ciccarelli Law Offices is looking to protect your child and his future. Learn more by contacting us now. We are Juvenile Defense Attorneys that represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and the greater Philadelphia metro area including Chester County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Berks County, Bucks County and Montgomery County. Contact us at (610) 692-8700 or (877) 529-2422.
Finding the Best Juvenile Lawyers Before Its Too Late
The very first juvenile court in the United States was established in Illinois in 1899; by the mid-1920’s every state in the nation had a separate criminal justice system for juveniles. This separate justice system is based on solid evidence of the fact that children who commit crimes are simply different from adults. Not only are juveniles less blameworthy, they also tend to have a greater capacity for change than adults. Since the first juvenile court was established, the juvenile justice system has undergone significant changes and growth.
In particular, in the early days of juvenile court, the “court” was essentially only a conversation between the judge and the juvenile, conducted behind closed doors. There was no legal representation available for juveniles, and the punishment was typically in separate rehabilitation and treatment facilities, away from adult offenders, as well as a juvenile probation system. Unfortunately, this lack of constitutional due process in the juvenile justice system resulted in very real deprivations of children’s liberty as they were incarcerated for extensive lengths of time in juvenile facilities.
Finally, in 1967, the Supreme Court determined that juveniles charged with a criminal offense or delinquency should have the same due process rights as adults—including the right to an attorney. Soon after this decisions, additional constitutional rights were extended to juveniles, including the right against double jeopardy as well as the right to have the charges against them proven beyond a reasonable doubt. While the Supreme Court ruled in 1971 that juveniles were not entitled to a jury trial in juvenile court, several states have made the decision to provide jury trials to juveniles.
Understanding Your Child’s Rights When Facing Criminal Prosecution
In the 80’s and 90’s, mechanisms were enacted which allowed juveniles to be tried as an adult under some circumstances—and even receive the death penalty. Even though the crime rates for youth have decreased since the 1990’s, the harsh penalties for juveniles remain in many states, although rehabilitation is—or should be—the primary goal for juvenile offenders. In the end, the road from childhood to adulthood can have many bumps and unexpected turns which can result in a good kid ending up in the back of a police cruiser. Your minor has the following rights:
- Your child has the right to assert his or her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
- Although police officers must have probable cause to search your child, a public official in a “quasi-parental” relationship (like a teacher or principal) must only have reasonable suspicion that your child is guilty of wrongdoing.
- Your child has the right to be told of the charges he or she is facing.
- Your child has the right to a phone call—he or she can call a parent or guardian who, in turn, can contact an attorney.
- Your child has the right to remain silent, invoking his or her Miranda rights.
- Your child does not have a constitutional right to seek bail, but in many cases he or she will be released into your custody prior to appearing in juvenile court.
- Although most states do not allow jury trials for a minor, some do, under limited circumstances. You will need to speak to your Pennsylvania juvenile attorney to determine whether your child should—or can—request a jury trial.
- Your child does have the right to an attorney.
- Your child has the right to confront his or her accuser as well as to cross-examine witnesses.
- Your child has the right to assert his or her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
- Your child has the right to have the charges against him or her proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Your Goal as a Parent When Your Child Has Been Charged with a Criminal Offense
Just like the adult criminal justice system, the juvenile criminal justice system can be frightening for juveniles charged with a crime as well as parents or guardians. It is important that parents know what to expect and have a trusted person to answer their questions when their child has been arrested for a criminal offense. As a parent, while you want your child to experience consequences for his or her actions, you also want to mitigate the very serious consequences of a criminal conviction.
Juveniles often have no real understanding that what seemed like a mischievous prank could have consequences which follow them for a very long time. Having an experienced Pennsylvania juvenile lawyer in your corner could prevent one mistake from derailing your child’s life. Your juvenile attorney can help you make the extremely important decisions which must be made while protecting your child’s rights and future in the process.
Does My Child Really Need an Attorney?
The answer to this question is an unequivocal “yes.” Police officers often tell parents that they “just want to talk” to their child, and that if the child will answer the questions truthfully everything will be just fine, so there is no need for an attorney. It is essential to remember that, just like an adult charged with a crime, anything your child says can and will be used against him or her in juvenile court proceedings. Reasonable doubt exists for your child’s case just as it does for an adult who is charged with a criminal offense, meaning the state must prove its case.
When your child speaks to the police, the state may be able to corroborate the allegations leading to the criminal charges filed against your child. Perhaps even worse, police have been known to coerce a confession from a totally innocent child. While we all want to believe that innocent people never go to jail, in fact it happens for both adults and juveniles. It is also important to know that interrogation rooms quite often have video cameras in the room; when the police “take a break” and leave the room, they could be outside watching you and your child as well as listening to your entire conversation. Your child absolutely needs an experienced Pennsylvania juvenile attorney when he or she is being charged with a criminal offense or even if you think charges could be coming.
Key Issues in Juvenile Defense
Juvenile Proceedings in Pennsylvania
Deferred Adjudication and the Consent Decree for Chester County Juveniles
Potential Consequences for a Juvenile Conviction in West Chester
How will Juvenile Charges Impact My College Application?
Do a need a Juvenile Attorney?
What is the Juvenile Court Process?
Will Your Child Be Prosecuted like an Adult?
What Does a Juvenile Probation Officer Do?
What’s the Difference Between a Juvenile and an Adult Prosecution?
What About a Public Defender?
Public defenders are appointed by a judge after charges have already been filed (Title 237 Rule 151 of the Pennsylvania Juvenile Rules). This means a public defender cannot be there to help your child during the pre-filing stage, when the case is being investigated and charges are being considered. Make no mistake, this is a crucial time—perhaps one of the most critical stages of the case. When you have a knowledgeable Pennsylvania juvenile attorney in your corner early on, there is always the possibility your attorney can have the case dismissed, resolved informally, or can negotiate a much more lenient sentence if the evidence against your child is strong. When you get a good head start on your child’s defense, your attorney can sort out the facts and begin mapping out the best strategy for your child’s future.
How Can I Help My Child’s Juvenile Attorney?
Although your child’s attorney will tell you what he or she needs, it is always helpful to gather the following documents:
- Any positive achievements, including certificates, diplomas, etc.
- If your child typically earns good grades, bring his or her report cards. Probation may ask for these documents (even if your child’s grades are not the best) so it is a good idea to have them ready.
- Character reference letters from anyone who can positively vouch for your child’s character. This could be a teacher, neighbors, employers or a pastor or priest.
Never, ever write a letter to the judge or the prosecutor without letting your attorney take a look at the letter. You could inadvertently say something in your letter which could hurt your child rather than helping him or her. If you have any information which is relevant—and helpful—to your child’s case, tell your child’s Pennsylvania juvenile lawyer as quickly as possible. If you happen to know of any witnesses to the alleged offense who could help your child, provide their names and contact information to your attorney.
How Your Pennsylvania Juvenile Attorney Can Help
Advocating for minors can often help them change a negative path they may be on and can help them make amends for any offenses committed. While Pennsylvania juveniles have many of the same rights as adults, there are a complete set of procedures which apply to juvenile offenses. There are also a different set of goals for juvenile offenders, most importantly to protect the interests of the public while still engaging in rehabilitative services for the minor. Whether your child has made a mistake or is truly innocent, he or she absolutely needs a Pennsylvania juvenile lawyer who understands that minors do not think like adults and can be prone to errors in judgment resulting in conflict with the law.
When you have the right Pennsylvania, juvenile attorney working on behalf of your child, it is often possible to salvage the child’s future, even when the offense is serious. Your child’s juvenile attorney will be able to determine whether your child acted on a whim or a dare, or in response to peer pressure, and can more fully convey that information to the judge. Do not leave your child’s future to chance—contact an experienced Pennsylvania juvenile lawyer today.
We represent Juveniles and Minor’s when they are facing Charges in Pennsylvania
Our team of lawyers are experienced in fighting for our young clients when they need our help the most. We work with them and their families to obtain just resolutions when the Government seeks to obtain a delinquency against them. Our team of lawyers is based in the greater Philadelphia area with our main offices in West Chester PA in Chester County, as well as in Lancaster County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Berks County and Bucks County. Our team has over 100 years of combined experience and uses their experience in the prosecutor’s office, the defender’s office and private practice so we can be our client’s resources in juvenile cases.
Contact Us Now For Advice, Guidance and Advocacy for Your Juvenile
If your child has been arrested and charged with a crime, the highly experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Offices can help. We will fight aggressively for your child’s rights and their freedom. We will protect them during this difficult time and represent them aggressively throughout the criminal process. Contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices today by email or by phone at (610) 692-8700 or (877) 529-2422 immediately to begin building a solid defense against these serious charges. We represent juvenile clients in Chester County, Berks County, Bucks County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Montgomery County and Philadelphia.