Juvenile Crime Attorney Pittsburgh
If your child is facing charges for any crime, you want to act quickly to protect his or her freedom and future. You do not want to allow your son or daughter to speak to the police without legal representation. No matter how friendly or understanding the law enforcement appears, you can guarantee that they will use anything your minor or you tell them in their case against your child.
At DRK Lawyers in Pittsburgh, we work tirelessly to represent the rights of juveniles in court. We pursue alternative forms of justice whenever possible. And we are always there by your child’s side. What’s more, our juvenile crime defense lawyers each have experience working as prosecutors. We know what the state has to prove against your child, and we will do everything in our power to find the holes or mistakes in the prosecution’s case.
Defending Minors Against All Underage Crimes
We have experience representing minors from across western Pennsylvania in a wide range of cases, including those involving:
- Auto theft
- Drug offenses
- Sexual assault
- Underage drinking
- Using a fake ID
The truth is minors can commit the same crimes as any adult. The question comes down to which charges the state will pursue and whether your child will go to juvenile court or, in more serious cases known as “Act 33” cases, in criminal court.
Your Child Could Face Felony Prosecution as an Adult
Pennsylvania law allows for the prosecution of juveniles age 15 or older as adults in cases where the juvenile is charged with committing:
- A violent crime such as homicide, rape or robbery
- Any crime that involved the use of a gun or other deadly weapon
Why does this matter? Because a felony conviction in a Pennsylvania state court could lead to many years in prison or even life imprisonment.
If the prosecution attempts to pursue your child’s case in state criminal court, we will work quickly to try to de-certify the case so it lands in juvenile court.
Will Your Minor Child Be Charged As An Adult In Pennsylvania?
Depending on the nature of the criminal charges, it is possible that your minor child may be charged as an adult in the state of Pennsylvania. However, the rules that govern the transfer of juvenile cases into the adult penal system are not entirely transparent.
Adult Court System For Homicide Charges
Some juvenile offenders are automatically charged in adult court without any preliminary proceedings in juvenile or family court. These juvenile offenders are often categorized as Direct File Juveniles. Any charges related to murder will be prosecuted in the adult court system, at least initially.
Any child who is aged fifteen or older and commits any of the following crimes while using a deadly weapon in the commission of the crime will be initially charged in adult court. This is known as statutory exclusion.
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
- Aggravated assault
- Robbery of motor vehicle aka Carjacking
- Aggravated indecent assault
Additionally, a juvenile can be charged as an adult if they are charged with:
- Attempting to commit any of the crimes listed above
- Solicitation to commit any of the crimes listed above
- Being in conspiracy to commit any of the crimes listed above
If a juvenile aged 14 or older is charged with a felony, the juvenile court may use its discretion to determine if the case warrants a transfer to the adult penal system. Usually, the juvenile court will conduct a hearing to determine the benefit to the public interest if the case in transferred to adult criminal system. The court must consider factors such as the child’s attitude toward treatment programs and their potential for rehabilitation.
If a juvenile offender is aged 14 years and uses a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony, there is a presumption in the Pennsylvania penal system that the public’s best interest will be served by prosecuting the juvenile as an adult. In such cases, the child’s defense team has the burden to prove that the child will benefit from and is a worthy candidate for supervised treatment and rehabilitation.
We Focus on Protecting Your Child’s Future
In addition to fines and time spent in juvenile detention, a conviction for any juvenile crime today could lead to long-term consequences for your child, including:
- Difficulty getting into college
- Inability to obtain loans
- Challenges in finding a job
- High auto insurance rates
- Loss or suspension of driver’s license
- Inability to join the military
We take every step possible in your child’s situation to minimize or completely avoid these consequences. We will fight aggressively from the start in an attempt to have the court dismiss or reduce the charges against your child. If your child receives a guilty verdict, we will do what we can to have your child’s record sealed so it does not harm him or her in the future.