Juveniles are treated differently than adults in Philadelphia in many respects. Until they are 18-years-old their parent or guardian is responsible to ensure that their needs are met and the parents usually make the rules for the child. In order to do many things the child also needs the consent of the parent or guardian. Juveniles are also treated differently in the criminal system as well. For most offenses, people under 18 go through the juvenile justice system, which is different than the adult system in many respects.
One of these differences is that after a written allegation is made against a juvenile, the juvenile first goes through an intake process with probation. A meeting is set up, which the juvenile must attend, and the juvenile’s parent or guardian is also notified of the meeting. At the meeting with probation, the probation officer determines whether it is a juvenile crime and whether it is appropriate to proceed with a petition in juvenile court.
If the probation officer determines that adjudication is not in the best interests of the juvenile and the public, the officer can informally adjust the allegations and allow the juvenile the opportunity to complete the informal adjustment. The juvenile and the juvenile’s parent or guardian must agree to the informal adjustment.
If the juvenile successfully completes the informal adjustment the case will be dismissed. If not, it proceeds to juvenile court through a petition. Also, if the juvenile or the juvenile’s attorney does not agree with the probation officer’s determination, they do have the opportunity to have the matter reviewed by a judge.
Many juveniles are charged with crimes in Philadelphia each year. The juveniles are usually treated differently than adults after the crime. One difference is that the juvenile will have the opportunity to avoid going to court through an informal adjustment process and could have the matter dismissed. There also may be defenses available to the juvenile as well. It is important to understand the juvenile process in order to give the juvenile a chance to avoid the consequences of a juvenile adjudication.
Source: Pennsylvania Courts, “Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure, Chapter 3, Part B“, accessed Aug. 2, 2016