Juvenile Probation Officers
Effects of Juvenile Probation Officers on Juveniles
Your son or daughter is facing juvenile charges and it is essential that you now the players that can impact or prejudice their future and that can start with their relationship with a juvenile probation officer. Do not make the mistake of thinking you can handle this yourself or that any lawyer is ready to properly advise and represent your family member.
Get the Help your Child Needs Before It is Too Late
If your child has been arrested and charged with an offense, you may be unsure of what will happen next, as well as what you should do to protect your child’s rights and future. Of course, as parents, we want our children to experience consequences for their actions, however the consequences for a youthful indiscretion can cause far-reaching consequences that can change the course of your child’s life. Get the help you need by contacting the experienced Pennsylvania Juvenile lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices. (610) 692-8700 or (877) 529-2422
Spending time in detention or, even worse, being tried as an adult and facing adult criminal penalties, can alter your child’s ability to attend college, receive a government student loan, obtain a professional license and seek employment, just to name a few of the serious consequences. Because of the potentially life-altering consequences of a juvenile criminal arrest, it is important that you seek legal guidance from an experienced Pennsylvania juvenile criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. Your attorney can explain the process, helping you make the best decisions for your child’s future.
When a juvenile is arrested, he or she will meet with a probation intake officers (42 Pa.C.S.§6304) who will usually then schedule a meeting which includes the intake officer, parents and the juvenile. Following this meeting, the probation intake officer will make a recommendation to the court regarding what he or she believes should happen next (42 Pa.C.S.§6335). This recommendation is based on interviews with the parents or guardians, the juvenile and the person who filed the formal charge against the juvenile. Prior to the probation intake interview, a written copy of the allegations against the juvenile must be provided to the juvenile. The juvenile must also be informed of his or her constitutional rights, including the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent.
Although most people believe a minor may not be questioned without his or her parents or guardians present, this is not true. A minor may refuse to answer questions and may ask for an attorney but can be legally questioned. The probation intake officer may discuss an informal adjustment with the juvenile. An informal adjustment means that no delinquency petition will be filed against the juvenile so long as he or she complies with stated conditions. Those conditions might include things like not skipping school, staying away from certain friends, checking in with the probation officer on a regular basis or participating in one of the following: a community-based program, a skill-building program, a community service program or a dispute resolution program.
If the juvenile complies with all the conditions, the charges against him or her could be dropped, therefore there would be no criminal record, however there are other scenarios as well. Often, while the prosecutor is considering how to handle the juvenile’s charges, the juvenile probation officer will provide guidelines the juvenile must follow. Even if the juvenile is properly abiding by these guidelines, the prosecutor may still decide to prosecute. From that point, the prosecutor could:
- Eventually decide to place the juvenile on more informal probation
- Consent decree (usually for six months)
- Seek an adjudication on all charges
- Seek a finding of fact on the more serious charges but adjudication on lesser charges
- Seek a term or probation
- Seek placement (detention, jail, etc.)
When the probation intake officer discusses an informal adjustment with the juvenile, any information disclosed by the juvenile during this conversation may not be used against the juvenile should the case go to court.
Post-Adjudication Juvenile Probation Services
If the case is adjudicated, the judge in the case could order juvenile probation, which is the supervision and monitoring of a juvenile in trouble rather than out-of-the home placement (in a detention center, another type of supervised facility, a group home or a foster care home). Juveniles on probation must comply with all terms and conditions imposed by the judge. Probation is actually the most common disposition for juveniles who have committed an offense, particularly for first-time offenders or those juveniles who are considered to be at a low risk for re-offending. The purpose of juvenile probation is to hold juveniles accountable while supporting public safety as well as to ensure service delivery supports rehabilitation, allowing the juvenile to avoid incarceration. Once a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent, he or she may receive formal probation or could also receive informal probation or voluntary probation.
How Long is Probation?
The length of a probation sentence will be determined by the judge, although in some cases it is “open-ended,” meaning the probation officer can decide when to dismiss the juvenile from formal probation. The progress of the juvenile will be closely monitored through review hearings, and juveniles on probation must comply with such things as routine or random drug tests, curfews, participation in treatment options or restitution paid to a victim of the juvenile. In some cases, the imposition of fines is a part of probation, however if the youth and/or his or her family is unable to pay the fines and fees, the process of rehabilitation can be significant hindered.
Can Probation Backfire?
Further, it is not uncommon when a juvenile is placed on probation for a relatively minor offense for that juvenile to end up more deeply involved in the justice system for probation violations. Unfortunately, as juveniles move more deeply into the justice system, their level of delinquent behavior could actually increase. As an example, a juvenile who is in trouble for truancy is placed on probation. The probation has conditions, including not missing school. When the juvenile misses a day of school, probation has been violated and may even be rescinded, resulting in possible out-of-home placement. As you can imagine an action like this would leave most juveniles frustrated at the injustice of the justice system, possibly resulting in further delinquent acts.
Services Provided for Juveniles on Probation
The services juveniles will have access to while on probation could be voluntary or could be court-mandated. The programs found to have the most positive outcomes for juveniles include the following:
- Counseling and therapy programs usually focus on the relationship between the juvenile and a responsible adult—typically parents or guardians, but can, in some cases, be another family member or even a peer. The feelings and behaviors of the juvenile are explored in counseling or therapy sessions, helping him or her to understand why the offense was committed.
- Restorative programs can include victim restitution or community service—actions which are intended to repair the harm caused by the juvenile. When a juvenile sees how his or her actions have affected another person, they are often able to fully understand the consequences of their actions.
- Skill-building programs which provide instruction, incentive, practice and activities meant to develop skills which allow the juvenile to control his or her behaviors in the future. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one example of a skill-building program used in juvenile probation programs.
It is believed by many of those who work with juveniles that if the “match” between the juvenile and the treatment services is improved, the outcome will be more positive. Risk-assessment is a frequently-used tool in juvenile probation which assesses the juvenile’s likelihood of re-offending, as well as whether the juvenile could benefit from mental health services, substance abuse treatments or other specialized treatments.
Which Juveniles Receive Probation?
According to the Office of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, younger juveniles are more likely to be given probation than older juveniles and female juveniles were more likely to receive probation than males, although the differences were not significant between males and females. There were few differences in race/ethnicity when determining which juveniles would receive probation, although Black, Hispanic and American Indian juveniles were slightly more likely to be placed in secure confinement and Asian juveniles were more likely to be given probation and the least likely to be placed in secure confinement.
The Juvenile Probation Officer’s Role
Juvenile probation officers both screen and supervise cases, and while the specific tasks performed by juvenile probation officers varies from state to state, intake screening, pre-sentence investigation and post-adjudication supervision seemed to be universal, no matter the state. Juvenile probation officers essentially serve as a representative for law enforcement as well as a counselor for the juvenile on probation.
The responsibilities of a juvenile probation officer typically differ significantly from the responsibilities of an adult probation officer; although both have a supervisory role, adult probation officers spend a considerable amount of time surveilling the probationers as well as performing record-keeping tasks. Juvenile probation officers are more likely to spend time investigating the juvenile cases and writing social history reports.
Juvenile probation is truly the backbone of the juvenile justice system; most juveniles will either enter or exit the juvenile justice system under supervised probation. Juvenile probation holds juveniles who have committed an offense accountable for their actions, while supporting rehabilitation and positive developmental outcomes. The overall goal of juvenile probation is to prevent re-offending behaviors by fully addressing the needs of the juvenile
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?
How a Pennsylvania Juvenile Criminal Attorney Can Help
If your child has landed himself or herself in trouble, it can be a very anxiety-filled time for the child as well as for you, the parents or guardians. Knowing what to expect from the Pennsylvania juvenile justice system can help alleviate some of the fears and anxieties associated with a juvenile arrest. Having an experienced Pennsylvania juvenile criminal attorney by your side who will guide you through the system, working hard for a positive outcome is essential. It is important that you not wait, hoping for the best, after your child’s arrest. Being proactive is essential and the biggest part of being proactive is contacting a knowledgeable Pennsylvania juvenile criminal attorney.
Get the Juvenile Help you Need Now by Contacting Ciccarelli Law Offices
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.