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The Social Study and juvenile crimes

Philadelphians need to make decisions every day. Sometimes these decisions are simple or mundane. However, other decisions can have a very big impact on their lives. This is true for both adults and minors. Also, sometimes what seems like not that big of a deal can turn into a life reshaping ordeal depending on what the person decides to do. If the decision involves making a choice between doing something illegal or not, this is especially true.

When a minor decides to do something potentially illegal, oftentimes they are not thinking about the potential consequences of the choice. Usually they do not fully realize the consequences until they go through the juvenile justice system. This is similar to the adult criminal system, but there are differences. Since the people in the juvenile justice system are young, the goal is to rehabilitate the minor and do what is in their best interest.

So, prior to punishing a juvenile after a crime that has been committed, the juvenile must participate in a Social Study. This is a report that is completed by probation to give the judge recommendations for punishment. These studies contain information about the seriousness of the offense, the minor's general behavior at home and school, the mental, physical and emotional development of the minor and how the punishment would affect that development, psychological evaluations, input from family and school personal, and job history.

Many minors in Philadelphia are accused of committing crimes every day. Being convicted on these charges can have serious immediate and long-term consequences for the juvenile. However, merely being charged with a crime does not mean that one is guilty of committing it. After all, there may be criminal defense options available to an accused minor. For this reason, it may be wise for a juvenile to consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney in hopes of avoiding the harsh penalties that could await him or her upon conviction.

Source:, "Juvenile Delinquency Benchbook - Chapter 9" accessed on Feb. 13, 2017

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