Both adults and juveniles can be subjected to penalties if they are convicted of a crime. However, there are some differences on how adult cases are handled in comparison to juvenile matters. The goal of the juvenile law system is to rehabilitate young individuals so that they do not make the same decisions as an adult. So, juvenile punishments are based on that goal and are made accordingly.
Juveniles may still end up detained in out-of-home placements though, if they are convicted of more serious crimes. However, oftentimes such placement includes a rehabilitation-type program as opposed to jail. In 2015, 3,619 juveniles were put in placements in Pennsylvania with 1,041 coming from Philadelphia County. This is down dramatically from 2011 when 5,333 were in placement in Pennsylvania with 1,497 coming from Philadelphia County.
The most common placements were in private institutions, which accounted for 57.5% of all placements. Drug and alcohol treatment facilities and groups homes accounted for 21.5% of the placements, and 11.9% were in secure facilities.
There are still some similarities between the adult system and the juvenile system, though. The most important similarity is that a juvenile is still innocent until proven guilty. There also may be defenses available to accused juveniles that could help ensure that they do not end up in an out-of-home placement.
Many juveniles are accused of committing crimes every year in Philadelphia, requiring them to go through the juvenile justice system. It is thus important to understand the law and potential defenses available to an individual so that he or she stands the best chance possible of avoiding conviction and the harsh penalties that may follow.
Source: Juvenile Court Judge’s Commission, “2015 Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Dispositions” accessed on Jan. 9, 2017