As a parent, you dread your son or daughter bringing a letter home from school. It is difficult to learn about your child receiving detention or other disciplinary measures when they should be paying attention and behaving in class. As they get older, the letters you receive regarding their behavior may not be from the school or quickly resolved with a parent/teacher conference. The letter you receive now could be from the juvenile court. If the police receive information that your child has been delinquent in some way, it may forward the allegation to the Bucks County Juvenile Probation Department, which can result in a juvenile probation letter being sent to you.

After reading the letter, which will not provide specific details of what your child supposedly did, you have to figure out what to do. It can be frightening because the letter will require you to respond and recommend contacting a juvenile defense lawyer. At Fienman Defense, we understand these concerns and your strong desire to protect your child. You may feel like you can easily deal with a school issue yourself, and that the school is probably overreacting, but anytime your child is facing a juvenile matter, they should be represented by an experienced attorney.

Attorney Michael Fienman is a highly experienced Bucks County juvenile defense lawyer and can help you deal with whatever allegation is made against your son or daughter. For a free, initial consultation call (215) 839-9529. We can review what happened and the best way to respond.

Acts of Delinquency in Pennsylvania

Your child’s juvenile probation letter will likely state there are allegations that your son or daughter has committed an act of delinquency. But, since these are templated letters without a lot of detail, you will probably be left wondering what that means.

Generally, delinquency means a minor committed an act that would be considered a crime if they were 18 years or older. A “delinquent act” is another way of saying a “crime.” The legal definition of a delinquent act is found in 42 Pa. Code §6302.

Under the law, a delinquent act means explicitly any act that:

  • Is designated as a crime in any state or under federal law;
  • • Constitutes indirect criminal contempt; or

    • Is a failure to comply with a lawful sentence imposed for a summary offense.

Some of the common allegation that may result in juvenile probation letter include;

  • Truancy
  • Vandalism
  • Assault
  • Drug or Alcohol Possession
  • Theft
  • Sexual Misconduct
  • Bringing Weapons to School

A delinquent act cannot be:

  • A summary offense;
  • Murder;
  • If your child is at least 15 and used a deadly weapon during the offense—rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, robbery of a vehicle, aggravated indecent assault, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, attempt or conspiracy to commit murder;
  • If your child is at least 15 and was previously adjudicated delinquent because of any of these acts—rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, robbery, robbery of a vehicle, aggravated indecent assault, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, or attempt or conspiracy to commit murder; or
  • A crime, other than a summary offense that your child was previously found guilty of in a criminal proceeding.

How to Respond to a Juvenile Probation Letter?

When you receive this type of letter, it is essential to neither panic nor blow it off. It is a serious legal matter for your child, but you should not assume the worst. Instead, contact Fienman Defense to meet with a juvenile defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The letter will give you a date and time for an intake conference. It is important to talk with a lawyer as soon as possible so that your child can be represented in this interview. Your son or daughter is not required to have an attorney. However, the best way for you to protect your child is to ensure they have legal representation any time they deal with the Bucks County Juvenile Probation Department.

What is the Intake Conference?

The letter gives you the date and time of a meeting with a Juvenile Probation Intake Officer.

At this meeting, you and your child will be asked questions. The intake officer uses this assessment to decide what to do next with your child’s matter, whether your child may need specific services, such as drug or alcohol rehabilitation, and to develop a Case Plan for the prosecutor and juvenile court’s consideration.

Following the intake conference, the officer may:

  • Dismiss the matter,
  • Refer your child to informal supervision, or
  • Ask a prosecutor to file a petition with the juvenile court and proceed with a case against your son or daughter.

During informal supervision, your child will stay at home, follow the rules of probation, and check in with a probation officer for at least six months. After successfully making it through this period, the matter is dismissed.

A petition means this becomes a juvenile court case, and your child will have to go through an adjudication hearing, which is the juvenile court version of a trial. Another option is for your child to enter into a consent decree. This can avoid a formal adjudication, but there will be a record of the arrest that remains on their juvenile record. A skilled defense attorney can maximize the likelihood of obtaining a successful outcome and an eventual expungement of the court and police records.

A juvenile defense lawyer from Fienman Defense will go over all of these possibilities with you before the intake conference. We will also provide advice on whether and how to answer the probation officer’s questions to minimize the likelihood of your son or daughter saying anything to further complicate their situation.

Why Work With a Juvenile Attorney?

Like all of Pennsylvania, the Bucks County juvenile system is meant to focus on rehabilitation rather than mere punishment. However, the consequences that a juvenile adjudication can have are tremendous and can have a lifelong detrimental impact. That being said, you should not take these letters or juvenile matters lightly.

If your child received a juvenile probation letter in Bucks County, you should be prepared. To learn more about juvenile offenses and the state’s juvenile court system, you can read more how to defend a child against juvenile charges on our site. You also can read through “A Family Guide to Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System” by the Family Involved Committee of the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers.

Contact Fienman Defense Today

You will need an attorney who is not only experienced in juvenile legal issues but who also has the compassion and understanding that you need during this stressful time. At Fienman Defense, we have nearly a decade of experience in this field and an excellent track record of helping families to effectively and efficiently deal with juvenile matters.

After receiving a juvenile probation letter about your son or daughter, contact Fienman Defense online 24/7or call (215) 839-9529. We will discuss the situation in a free, confidential consultation, and advise you on how to achieve the best possible option.

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