A person under the age of 18 who is alleged to have committed an act that would constitute a criminal offense if committed by an adult is charged with a “delinquent act.” This distinction is significant as these charges are resolved through Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System as opposed to the Criminal Courts. This system has specific goals to provide for the supervision, care, and rehabilitation of delinquent children while, at the same time, protecting the public against such acts.
Despite these key differences, many similarities exist between the two processes. Juveniles have many of the same rights as the criminally accused, such as the right to question witnesses and offer evidence on one’s own behalf, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, a right to privacy in their persons and property and the right to counsel.
Just like adults accused of crimes, Juveniles face severe penalties and a harsh stigma if found guilty, or “adjudicated delinquent.” Consequently, being represented by qualified defense counsel is critical to protecting the accused now as well as for the future. The attorneys at Allegheny Attorneys are experienced in representing juveniles on a variety of charges and can be reached for a free consultation at (412) 426-3321.
When allegations of abuse or neglect arise against parents, an action for juvenile dependency may be brought by a local agency for child welfare, often referred to as the Office of Children, Youth, and Families or “CYF”. Other interested parties can also initiate these proceedings, such as another parent, a neighbor, teacher or police officer. These actions may even be brought if it is alleged that the child is “out of control”, for example where the child refuses to go to school.
If a child is declared to be dependent, he or she may be removed from the care of the parents and placed in foster care or in a facility for dependent children. Sometimes, the child can remain with the parents under the supervision of a CYF caseworker and the court. If a child has been removed, the parents must abide by the court and CYF’s plan to be reunited with the child. Otherwise, CYF may attempt to terminate parental rights. In this situation, third parties could eventually adopt the child.
If you are involved in or may be involved in dependency proceedings, you MUST act in a timely and effective manner to protect your rights. The attorneys at Allegheny Attorneys can provide advice and representation that may save your relationship with your child. Call today for your free ½ hour consultation at (412) 426-3321.