Kids in Philadelphia get into trouble for various things each day. Many times they are not doing anything illegal and simply breaking the rules at home or school. However, other times, a child not only breaks the rules, but also breaks the law. Certain activities, like drug possession, will result in a punishment at home or school and may also result in a criminal charge against the child. If the child is formally charged, then they must go through the juvenile law system to determine their punishment.
This is exactly what two 12-year-olds will have to do after being charged with distributing drugs at school. The two juveniles allegedly took Ambien pills from a family member and brought them to school. Officials allegedly saw the two juveniles distributing them to classmates in the cafeteria at school. Authorities also claim that the two juveniles were trying to sell Ambien for $10 a pill.
These two juveniles will now have to go through the juvenile law system. It is a little different than the adult system though, especially when it comes to the punishments. Punishments in the juvenile law system are designed to rehabilitate the juvenile, so they do not make the same mistakes as an adult. Punishments in the adult system are simply designed to punish the criminal with minimal attempts to rehabilitate them.
Despite the goal of rehabilitation, the consequences from conviction in the juvenile law system still can be very serious, especially the long-term consequences. Even after the juvenile completes the sentence given by the judge, they will still have to put convictions on job and school applications. This can be far more detrimental to their future than the punishment given by the judge.
There are defenses to these crimes though, depending on the facts in each case, and each juvenile is innocent until proven guilty, just like an adult. There also may be ways to keep the conviction off their record, so they do not have to put it on job and school applications.
Many Philadelphia juveniles are charged with crimes and go through the juvenile law system. Understanding one's legal defenses is important in order to keep a conviction, which has long-term consequences, off a juvenile's record.
Source: The Inquirer, "Students, 12, accused of selling sleeping pills at Burlco school," Emily Babay, May 23, 2014