What Happens When a Juvenile Is Accused of Domestic Violence Against Someone Else in the Family?

Posted by Joseph Lento | Jun 08, 2022 | 0 Comments

In Pennsylvania, minors can be charged with crimes and sometimes tried as adults, if the crime is serious enough. One common charge for juveniles — mostly teenagers — is domestic violence. Teens may be accused of assaulting family members as well as a partner they're dating - or even cohabitating with in cases of older teens living away at college, sometimes unbeknownst to parents.

What is the process for a minor who is accused of domestic violence?

Tried as a Juvenile or Adult?

When minors are charged with committing a crime in Pennsylvania, they go through the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court System. In some cases, however, the child may be tried as an adult. If the charge is murder, the child is always tried as an adult, no matter how old they are. Children who are at least 14 years old and accused of a felony may be tried in the adult court system if the juvenile court believes doing so would be in the public interest. If a minor over 14 uses a deadly weapon to commit a felony or commits a serious offense like rape or sexual assault, they may instead be tried as an adult, especially the closer a juvenile is to age 18.

Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania

To understand how a juvenile domestic violence charge will be handled, it's important to know what Pennsylvania considers domestic violence. Some examples may include:

  • Physical assault such as shoving, pushing, kicking, hitting, or punching
  • Criminal restraint
  • Threatening harm to the person
  • Sexual assault, lewdness, or coercion
  • Stalking, either online or in-person
  • Harassment, either online or in-person

As you can see, the definition isn't limited to physical violence. For example, if a 15-year-old child threatens to hurt their sister during a heated argument in a way that makes the sister truly fear for her safety, the 15-year-old could possibly be charged with domestic violence.

The Process for Juvenile Domestic Violence Offenses in Pennsylvania

A minor charged with the crime of domestic violence will first go to the Juvenile Court System, just as they would for any other crime. They may go to the adult courts if their crime meets the criteria previously mentioned.

In the Juvenile Court System, the minor will be arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center, with a detention hearing following no more than 72 hours later. If there's reason to believe the minor committed the crime, there will be an adjudication hearing to determine if the child is delinquent. If the minor is found delinquent, there is a disposition hearing to determine what the penalty will be.

Juvenile Offenders Have a Right to Legal Representation Too

If you are under 18 and have been accused of domestic violence, or your child has been accused of domestic violence, having an experienced family law attorney is crucial. Going through the juvenile courts can be frightening for minors, and they shouldn't have to do it alone. At the LLF Law Firm, we can help protect your or your child's rights if they've been charged with a crime. Call LLF Law Firm and our expert team today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.

About the Author

Joseph Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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