West Chester

Juvenile Defense Attorney

Parents often want their children to face the consequences if they made a mistake, but some situations call for an aggressive defense. A juvenile criminal offense can have harsh and long-lasting effects, like a criminal record, placement in a juvenile detention center, and can even affect future employment or educational opportunities. If criminal allegations are involved, it is always in your child’s best interest to have an experienced juvenile lawyer in their corner.

If your son or daughter has been arrested for a juvenile offense in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Downingtown, Oxford, Coatesville, Exton, or anywhere in Chester County, contact veteran criminal defense lawyer Michael J. Skinner. At Skinner Law Firm we know the importance of preserving your child’s record and keeping them with you. Let us fight for the best possible outcome and pursue options to spare them from the harsh consequences of being labeled a juvenile offender.

In a free, initial consultation, attorney Skinner will go over what happened, explain what comes next, and tell you what can be done to protect your child. Call (610) 436-1410 or reach out online for your free consultation.

Common Juvenile Offenses in Pennsylvania

As an accomplished defense attorney and former Chester County prosecutor, Michael J. Skinner is highly experienced and knowledgeable with all manner of juvenile offenses in Pennsylvania.

Juvenile Alcohol Crimes

From underage drinking to using a fake ID to purchase alcohol and getting a DUI before age 21, there are numerous ways a juvenile can complicate their life and future with alcohol.

Juvenile Adjudication

Many people wrongly assume that an order of adjudication is not very serious. If your child is facing any type of criminal charges, it is important to take them seriously and know what’s involved now and down the line

Juvenile Sex Crimes

In today’s climate, being under 18 does not necessarily protect you from being charged as an adult for a sexual offense. These cases require immediate and experienced attention from a capable attorney.

Vandalism and Criminal Mischief

Not every prank is innocent. Defacing or destroying someone else’s property can result in serious penalties, ranging from a summary offense to a felony charge.

Juvenile Drug Charges

Regardless of age, the possession, sale, and manufacture of controlled substances is illegal in Pennsylvania. Penalties for a juvenile can vary depending on the situation, but will likely include possible time in custody, probation, substance abuse treatment, and a mark on your criminal record.

our awards & memberships

  • A professional non-profit dedicated to the improvement of the criminal defense bar, and to providing valuable information to the public about drunk driving laws. Members of the NCDD are considered the most experienced DUI defense attorneys in the United States and Canada.

  • The preeminent organization in the United States. NACDL serves as a leader in identifying and reforming flaws in the criminal justice system, and addressing systemic racism, and ensuring that the criminal defense bar is fully equipped to serve all accused persons at the highest level.

  • PACDL is the premier network of the best defense attorneys in PA with a mission to educate, advocate, and inspire by providing support for criminal defense lawyers, promoting effective competence, leveling the playing field, and protecting freedoms.

  • The Pennsylvania Bar Association promotes and protects the legal profession, the rights of Pennsylvania citizens and access to justice for all. Membership is open to any lawyer in good standing who is licensed by the Bar of Pennsylvania.

  • The American Bar Association is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations, with over 400,000 members and more than 3,500 entities. Their mission is to serve its members, the legal profession, and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.

  • The CCBA promotes professionalism, inclusion, and collegiality within the Chester County legal profession, and enhances the quality of life of its members and the practice of law within the community.

  • The NORML Legal Committee (NLC) is composed of attorneys committed to the overall goals of NORML. NLC attorneys meet each year to discuss emerging legal issues related to defense of marijuana consumers and to support each other in the pursuit of justice.

  • The American Institute’s Criminal Law Division is an impartial third-party rating service recognizing the excellence of fellow practitioners. To help clients across the United States make educated decisions, we compile an exclusive list of the “10 Best” Attorneys for each State. Our “10 Best” is a prestigious honor extended only to those who have reached the top of their profession while doing so with the client’s satisfaction being of paramount importance.

  • The American Institute’s DUI/DWI Division recognizes the excellence of practitioners in the field of DUI/DWI defense. We compile an exclusive list of the “10 Best” Attorneys for each State for potential clients to utilize. We look for Attorneys that have achieved unparalleled success but most importantly have done so for the benefit of their client. Very few Attorneys can do so and our organization recognizes this significant achievement.

  • Attorney Michael Skinner has been consistently recognized as among the best lawyers in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. Attorneys are nominated via peer balloting, then vetted through our editorial process in various fields of practice.

  • The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state. Membership is extended only to the most qualified attorneys who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile. Each of our distinguished members possesses the knowledge, skill, experience, and success held by only the best and finest lawyers in America.

  • The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. The Rising Stars further distinguishes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys, and to be eligible, a Rising Stars candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Juvenile Penalties & Consequence

If your child is convicted of a criminal offense or violates a juvenile diversion program’s requirements, they could potentially face severe repercussions on their future educational and career opportunities. Additionally, they may immediately be subjected to:

  • Community service
  • Confinement in a Juvenile Detention Center
  • Confinement to house arrest
  • Counseling
  • Curfew
  • Fines
  • Lost driving privileges or driver’s license
  • Prison sentences if charged as an adult
  • Probation
  • Random drug testing, and/or
  • Substance abuse programs.

Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings

Pennsylvania has separate systems for juveniles charged with crimes. If a child commits an offense, and they are under 18, then their case will likely be adjudicated or decided by a judge within the juvenile court system. However, in serious criminal cases, a juvenile can be transferred to an adult court.

In most cases, a delinquent child in Pennsylvania is anyone who is ten years or older whom the court has adjudicated guilty of a delinquent act, and is in need of treatment, supervision or rehabilitation.

Typical juvenile proceedings in Pennsylvania begin when a law enforcement officer or district attorney files a petition with the court. An adjudicatory hearing will then be held in front of a judge to determine whether there is evidence that the juvenile committed the offense. If the judge finds a juvenile guilty, they will sentence the juvenile to treatment, supervision, confinement or rehabilitation.

A juvenile can appeal the court’s decision after the final disposition and must be filed with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania within 30 days of the final disposition hearing. It is important to remember that throughout the juvenile court process, a juvenile still has the right to an attorney.

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Avoiding a Juvenile Record

Instead of having a criminal trial, the district attorney can offer deferred adjudication, where the juvenile will have to agree to certain requirements to be completed within a specified period of time. If the juvenile complies with the requirements, there will be no trial, the criminal charge against the juvenile will be withdrawn, and there will be no criminal record.

If criminal charges have been filed against the juvenile, and the juvenile is adjudged delinquent, a consent decree can be entered into by the parties. In the consent decree, the child will be kept under supervision in his home and meet requirements as set forth by the probation officer. If all the requirements are met, and a specified time period has passed, the guilty conviction will be expunged from the juvenile’s record.

Pennsylvania Resources For Juveniles

Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission – The JCJC was established in Pennsylvania to advise juvenile courts about the proper care and maintenance for delinquent children, to establish standards governing the juvenile courts, and compile and statistics about delinquent juveniles in Pennsylvania.

Juvenile Law Center – The Pennsylvania branch of this national nonprofit seeks to advance and protect the rights and well-being of children who have committed juvenile offenses in Pennsylvania.

Chester County Juvenile Probation – Chester County Juvenile Probation Department develops balanced and restorative plans for juvenile offenders that involve their families, victims, and community to ensure accountability and develop valued skills.

Lancaster County Office of Juvenile Probation – Provides balanced attention to protect the community and develop competencies, so children can become responsible and productive members of the community.

Montgomery County Juvenile Court – The Montgomery County Juvenile Justice System is dedicated to ensuring that juvenile offenders are held accountable and develop the competencies to become positive members of society.

Delaware County Juvenile Court – Addresses juvenile crime, promotes victim restoration, and strives for positive development the youth, families, and communities served and protected by the Court.

Contact a Juvenile Defense Lawyer in Chester County

Don’t let a youthful mistake or lapse in judgment negatively impact your child for the rest of their life. Entering the criminal justice system at a young age is a slippery slope and the trappings of being labeled a juvenile delinquent are difficult to overcome. With years of experience helping families deal with charges across Chester County, the Skinner Law Firm should be your first call if your child runs into legal trouble.

Let us find possible defenses or mitigating factors to help your child avoid a permanent criminal record. Contact us at (610) 436-1410 today for a free, initial consultation.