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What Sentencing Options Exist in Juvenile Court?

Because jail is usually not an option when a minor is convicted of a crime, juvenile courts have a wider variety of sentencing options available. There are still forms of “incarceration” that can be used for juveniles, but generally, whether or not the juvenile is incarcerated, the focus of the court system is to rehabilitate the offender and attempt to get him or her to engage in more positive behaviors in the future.

Below is a brief overview of some of the most common incarceration options for juveniles in Pennsylvania:

  • House arrest: A judge orders the juvenile to remain at home except for school, work, counseling and other approved outings.
  • Re-placement: The judge orders the juvenile to live with a relative or in a foster home.
  • Juvenile detention: The judge orders the minor to a juvenile detention facility for what is typically a short-term stay.

Options without incarceration

There are other types of sentences and rehabilitation options available for juvenile offenders. These include the following:

  • Warnings: In relatively minor cases, a juvenile may only receive a verbal warning from the court.
  • Fines: Juveniles may be required to pay fines to the government or compensation to their victims.
  • Community service: A judge may order a juvenile to log a certain number of community service hours.
  • Monitoring: Judges may require juveniles to wear ankle or wrist bracelets that monitor their locations so they do not break curfew.
  • Counseling: Judges may require juveniles to attend counseling.
  • Probation: Probation may be its own sentence, or it may come after terms in juvenile detention or jail.

If your child has been arrested and accused of a committing a crime, speak with skilled juvenile defense attorney David R. Eshelman.


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