Has your child been arrested for a juvenile offense in West Chester, PA? If so, their future is at stake, and now is the time to begin their defense. Contact West Chester juvenile crimes lawyer Mike DiCindio for immediate legal assistance.
Mike DiCindio is a former prosecutor and understands the challenges your family is up against if your child has been accused of a crime. Swift action is necessary to keep the case in juvenile court and minimize potential consequences.
How Our West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help You Fight Juvenile Criminal Charges
Pennsylvania has a separate justice system for minors. There are separate courts, procedures, and judges tasked with dealing with juvenile crimes. Even though the juvenile justice system focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment, it is still critical to enlist the help of a qualified West Chester criminal defense lawyer immediately.
Not all defense attorneys are the same. Not all defense attorneys have experience handling juvenile criminal cases. Attorney Mike DiCindio has more than a decade of experience handling criminal cases on both sides. During his time as a prosecutor, he gained incredible insight into the justice system that he draws on every day to benefit his clients. Since shifting to defense work, he’s helped countless clients fight for and achieve justice, including many juveniles and their families.
When you turn to DiCindio Law for help with your juvenile criminal case, we will:
- Conduct a thorough independent investigation into the allegations
- Fight efforts to transfer the child’s case to an adult court in West Chester
- Guide your child through all interviews and conversations with the police, prosecutors, and Bureau of Juvenile Justice
- Gather evidence, secure witnesses, analyze the Commonwealth’s case, and determine the best strategy for a successful resolution
- Advocate for a release to the parents, probation, and/or other alternatives to more traditional sentences
Juvenile crimes can have harsh consequences. The impact of the process and potential penalties can be significant. Getting an attorney involved right away can help to ensure that your child gets the best result possible. Contact DiCindio Law in West Chester, PA for a free consultation now.
What Are Juvenile Crimes?
Generally defined, any crime or offense committed by a minor can be considered a juvenile crime.
- Underage drinking
- School-related crimes
- Gang-related crimes
- Drug crimes, including possession and/or possession with the intent to sell
- Sex crimes, such as involuntary deviant sexual intercourse
- Aggravated assault
- College crimes
If the crime is committed by a person under the age of 18, it can be considered a juvenile offense.
Are Juvenile Crimes Always Tried in Juvenile Court?
No. While most juvenile crimes are tried in the Commonwealth’s juvenile justice system, it’s not a requirement.
Generally, cases involving particularly serious crimes, including many violent crimes and sex crimes, can be transferred to an adult court in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Courts have the discretion to try a minor as an adult if they are at least 14 years old, there’s solid evidence to support the case, and circumstances indicate that a transfer would serve the public interest. This might be the case if the minor has previously been charged with a serious crime (e.g., kidnapping, rape, or manslaughter), used a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense, and/or lacks the motivation or desire to be rehabilitated.
Courts will transfer minors and try them as adults if they’re at least 15 and are accused of voluntary manslaughter or crimes with a deadly weapon. Any child, regardless of age, will be tried as an adult if they are charged with murder.
When tried as adults, young defendants will be subject to the more serious penalties that typically apply, including prison.
My Child Was Charged With a Juvenile Crime in West Chester – What Should I Expect?
Here’s a brief overview of the juvenile delinquency process in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
- Arrest: A minor is arrested for committing a crime.
- Release or Detention: After an arrest is made, the minor can be released to their parent(s) or detained in a juvenile facility in Chester County.
- Petition or Informal Adjustment: If the child is released to a parent, the Commonwealth has the opportunity to file a petition to move forward with the case, dismiss the charges, or advocate for informal adjustment.
- Detention Hearing: If the child is detained, a detention hearing will be held, and the Commonwealth will file a petition with the court to effectively “bring charges” against the child.
- Transfer Hearing: For more serious matters, a transfer hearing may be held to determine if the child’s case should remain in juvenile court or be transferred to an adult criminal court.
- Adjudication: This is essentially the child’s trial. This is a private hearing in front of a juvenile court judge, not a jury. During adjudication, the judge considers arguments, evidence, and testimony offered by the defense and district attorney. The judge will either acquit the minor and dismiss the petition or determine that the minor is guilty (for juveniles, this is called “adjudicated delinquent”).
- Disposition: Disposition is the sentencing hearing that occurs if a minor is adjudicated delinquent. A judge will consider the specific circumstances of the minor’s case and determine the most appropriate consequences. In Pennsylvania, the aim of sentencing is rehabilitative rather than punitive.
Other steps may occur during your child’s juvenile delinquency case. Having an experienced West Chester criminal defense attorney standing beside your child every step of the way will help to ensure that their rights are protected and that they benefit from every opportunity under the law.
What Are the Penalties For a Juvenile Crime in West Chester, PA?
If your child is adjudicated delinquent, they may be sentenced to some or all of the following:
- House arrest
- Drug testing
- Drug or alcohol counseling (substance abuse programs)
- Community service
- Confinement for a period of time in a Juvenile Detention Center
While most sentences are crafted with rehabilitation in mind, the consequences can still be quite severe. That’s why attorney Mike DiCindio will advocate for your child throughout the process. If an informal adjustment cannot be secured, he will fight for the most lenient and rehabilitative sentencing options possible.
What Are the Best Defenses in a Juvenile Criminal Case?
The allegations against your child must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is an incredibly high burden. An effective and strategic defense can make it incredibly difficult for the Commonwealth to meet this requirement.
The potential defenses to a juvenile criminal case can include:
- Violation of constitutional rights, such as illegal traffic stops and unreasonable searches
- Mishandling of evidence or problems with the chain of custody
- Discrediting witnesses or witness testimony
- False allegations
- Lack of evidence
- Affirmative defenses, such as duress, self-defense, or entrapment
A strong defense will consider the Commonwealth’s case and its evidence, identify weaknesses or gaps and leverage those in the juvenile’s favor.
West Chester juvenile defense lawyer Mike DiCindio will work to undermine the district attorney’s case at every turn. Police conduct will be reviewed for violations. Evidence will be challenged. Witnesses will be subject to a thorough and detailed examination to uncover the truth.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced West Chester Juvenile Crimes Lawyer
Has your child been arrested or charged with a juvenile crime in West Chester, Pennsylvania? Their future is on the line, and now is the time to begin fighting to protect them. West Chester juvenile crimes lawyer Mike DiCindio and the team at DiCindio Law can help.
Our law firm benefits from the guidance of a former prosecutor with more than a decade of experience in criminal law. We understand that the stakes are incredibly high – your child’s future is riding on how their case moves forward.
We’ll help you navigate the juvenile criminal proceedings. We’ll advocate to secure an alternative to adjudication. We’ll fight for favorable sentencing measures. We’ll help your child file to get their record expunged if they are adjudicated delinquent.
Our criminal defense law firm will be there for your child and your family every step of the way. Our law office represents clients in West Chester and throughout Chester County. Contact us by phone or connect with us online to get started now. Your first consultation is free.