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Statistical overview of the juvenile justice system

Most of the crimes that adults commit in Philadelphia can also be committed by juveniles. However, there are some crimes that can only be committed by juveniles, such as curfew violations or tobacco violations. Each case is handled differently. With the juvenile system, there is more of a focus on rehabilitation in the and the punishments reflect that.

Over 100,000 people under 18 years old are arrested each year in Pennsylvania. However, only about 40,000 of those juveniles go through the juvenile justice system. Over 90% of the charges are for non-violent offenses and the most common juvenile crimes are thefts, burglaries, assaults and drug offenses.

One of the most common forms of punishment for juveniles who have been convicted is probation. Approximately half of all juvenile convictions result in some form of probation supervision. Only about 10% of the cases result in juveniles being sent to a residential detention facility and a third of those juveniles are sent to non-secure detention facilities. Also, less than 1% of all juvenile cases are referred to adult court. This is in part because certain violent crimes are sent directly to adult court.

As one can see from the statistics, many juveniles are arrested and end up going through the juvenile justice system each year. The consequences often end up with at least probation and in some cases in detention. These consequences are only for convictions, though. There may be defenses available to juveniles just as they are available to adults.

Just like adults, juveniles in Philadelphia who have been charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty. The consequences can be severe if the juvenile is convicted, but there may be ways to avoid a conviction and the harsh penalties associated with it. Experienced attorneys understand these potential defenses and may be able to help protect one's rights.

Source: Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges' Commission, "Pennsylvania Juvenile Delinquency Benchbook, Section 3-3" accessed on December 14, 2015

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