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Juvenile or Adult: How It Works in Pennsylvania

One of the suspects in an August bar robbery admitted in juvenile court to his involvement. The 14-year-old, along with three teenagers 18 years or older, allegedly robbed Victor’s Café in Spring Township after closing time, making off with liquor and $700. The younger teen has admitted to conspiracy to commit robbery.

This case comes just after a July ruling that upheld a six- to 12-year prison sentence for a 19-year-old who robbed a pharmacy in 2012. While the young man argued that he should have been tried as a juvenile, as he was 17 at the time, the court remained unconvinced, citing the man’s prior record as well as his behavior in conjunction with his arrest.

Pennsylvania law

In Pennsylvania, there are several circumstances under which people under 18 may be charged as adults. The clearest such circumstance is murder, which results in being charged as an adult no matter the age of the accused. In cases in which the youth is 15 or older and used a deadly weapon during the committing of a crime, the youth will be charged as an adult.

Finally, if a youth aged 15 or older commits an offense and has previously been adjudicated delinquent for any of a variety of offenses, the youth will also be charged as an adult. A delinquent act is one that would be a crime if an adult committed it. Some examples of delinquent acts that could lead to adult charges upon further offenses include robbery, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated assault, voluntary manslaughter and the attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above.

After the arrest of a minor child on serious criminal charges, seek reliable legal counsel. Speak with the Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of David R. Eshelman right away.

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