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Five Things You Need to Know About Juvenile Justice

Unlike adult criminal courts whose focus is primarily punishment and deterrence, the juvenile court system is focused on rehabilitating delinquent children through a wide variety of programs to make them responsible and productive members of the community

Nonetheless, any parent should be concerned about the collateral consequences of certain juvenile court adjudications.

Juvenile adjudications − what might you face afterwards?

  • A struggle to expunge juvenile records − Expungement is not automatic. Expungement is sought from the court by a petition. A juvenile may petition at age 18 for expungement, but if five years have not elapsed since supervision ended, the District Attorney may successfully object to the expungement.
  • Limited future employment opportunities A juvenile adjudication might bar a young adult from joining the military or hinder employment opportunities, or cause problems for the young adult seeking a professional license.
  • Adverse public exposure − Juvenile records of court proceedings are often presumed to be closed to the public. These records and proceedings are open to the public in the case of 14 year olds charged with felonies, or even where children 12 and older are charged with serious offenses.
  • Restricted immigration status − A juvenile adjudication can adversely affect a minor’s immigration status
  • Sex Offender Registration – As of December 2012, juvenile offenders who committed certain sexual offenses are required to register their addresses and other identifying information with the Pennsylvania State Police. These offenses cannot be expunged. Planned vacations of registered sex offenders outside of the county of registration, or custody and visitation changes or attendance at a school outside the county of registration must be reported to the State Police in advance.

Even though the juvenile justice system is statutorily committed to the rehabilitation of young offenders, a juvenile adjudication can leave permanent and harmful ‘black marks’ on a young person’s record. If your child is charged with juvenile offense, you need the assistance of an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney to guide you and your child through the proceedings.

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