Young people in Philadelphia can find themselves in peculiar circumstances. Sometimes these situations lead to allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Those juveniles who are accused of a crime may be confronted by the potential for harsh penalties that can affect their future.
Dealing with the juvenile law system is no easy task, and thousands of Pennsylvanian juveniles find themselves facing allegations of committing a criminal offense In 2015, for example, there were 73,743 alleged juvenile offences in Pennsylvania. This represented a decline from 2014 and continued a steady trend of fewer alleged offenses since 2011. However, only 15,411 of the alleged offenses were substantiated, which means that the juvenile either pleaded guilty or was found guilty of the alleged offense.
These numbers demonstrate that clearly simply being charged with a crime does not mean that a juvenile is in fact guilty of a crime. There are many defenses that may be available to a juvenile to assist them in proving their innocence. These defenses can serve as a check on law enforcement to ensure that they, too, are operating in accordance with the law. If the police violated the law when conducting a search and seizure, for example, evidence which could be used to demonstrate guilt may be suppressed, increasing the likelihood of acquittal or dismissal.
The juvenile system is different than the adult system, but one similarity is that accused individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty. By crafting a strong legal defense, though, those facing allegations of criminal wrongdoing may be able to beat the charges and avoid harsh penalties
Source: www.jcjc.pa.gov, "2015 Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Dispositions" accessed on Dec. 5, 2016