Philadelphia Juvenile Crimes Lawyer
When minors stumble onto the wrong side of the law, the results can be tragic. One youthful mistake can lead to interrupted studies, missed employment opportunities, financial strain, and exposure to the harsh reality of the penal system. Fortunately, a skilled Philadelphia juvenile crimes lawyer can help you and your family to avoid the unforgiving consequences of a conviction for a youth crime.
What Kinds of Juvenile Crimes Cases Does Fienman Defense Handle?
- Fake ID—If you are under 21 and attempt to use a fake ID to buy alcohol, you could face a summary offense charge. The authorities will notify your parents, and if convicted of the crime, you will be sentenced to pay hundreds of dollars in fines and lose your driving privileges for 3 months. A second offense may result in misdemeanor charges carrying harsher fines and the possibility of jail time.
- Underage drinking—In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for a minor to drink any liquid containing .5% of alcohol or more. For a first offense, you will face fines from $300 to $500 and a 90-day driver’s license suspension. A second underage conviction will result in fines of up to $1,000 and a 1-year license suspension.
- Underage DUI—Anyone under 21 caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02 or more in Pennsylvania will face DUI charges. If convicted, you will need to spend a minimum of 48 hours in jail, pay fines from $500 to $5,000, and receive a 1-year license suspension. The court may also order you to attend driver’s school and an alcohol treatment program at your own expense.
- Possession of alcohol—In Pennsylvania, a person under 21 found in possession of alcohol may face criminal charges even if he or she isn’t drinking. In fact, the penalties for underage possession are the same as for underage drinking: hundreds of dollars in fines and a 3-month driver’s license suspension. A second conviction may entail a jail sentence.
- Truancy—Pennsylvania law mandates that every child from 8 to 17 years old must attend school. If a child misses more than 3 days of school without a valid excuse, the parent may face summary offense charges involving hundreds of dollars in fines. Children over the age of 13 may also be charged with truancy if they disobey their parents and refuse to attend school.
- Juvenile vandalism and criminal mischief—Criminal mischief consists in intentionally damaging, destroying, or defacing someone else’s property. If you destroy school, church, or government property, you may be charged with institutional vandalism. For either crime, you may face a summary offense, misdemeanor, or even felony charges depending on the value of the affected property.
- Drug offenses—The authorities take juvenile drug possession or dealing cases very seriously. If convicted, you may receive a wide range of penalties including fines, detention, community service, counseling, substance abuse programs, curfew, and random drug testing. Needless to say, a conviction for a drug offense may seriously limit your ability to apply for college or a job.
- Violation of probation—Your probation may be conditioned on a number of factors, such as respecting a curfew, submitting to drug testing, attending school, staying away from gang members, and attending counseling programs. If you violate these terms, you will need to attend a hearing that may result in the revocation of your probation.
- Traffic violation—Every traffic violation you commit will result in points being added to your license. The authorities will suspend the license of any driver under 18 years old who accumulates 6 or more points or who gets convicted of driving more than 26 mph over the speed limit. A first license suspension will last 90 days, and the subsequent one will last for 120 days.
Keep in Mind the Non-Criminal Penalties of a Juvenile Conviction
Getting convicted of any of the above offenses will result in an entry onto your permanent criminal history. While it may be possible to expunge summary offenses and certain misdemeanors, you may have to wait some time before that becomes an option. Thus, you may find it difficult to apply for college or to qualify for certain jabs in the years following your conviction.
If you are already enrolled in college, your criminal conviction may result in your suspension. If the offense you committed violates the student code of your institution, you may face a wide range of penalties from the department of student affairs. Bear in mind that the college disciplinary board may impose penalties on you even if you get acquitted of your criminal charges in court.
For any alcohol-related or serious traffic offense, the authorities will restrict your driving privileges. But for many, the harshest consequence is having to pay higher insurance rates in the wake of the incident. Over time, these higher premiums may drain your finances more than the fines the judge ordered you to pay.
How Can Fienman Defense Defend my Case?
At Fienman Defense, we are especially concerned about minimizing the effects of criminal charges on the lives of our younger clients. At a time when children and young adults are looking towards the future, they shouldn’t be weighed down by probation, criminal penalties, and limited educational or professional opportunities.
At the outset, we will carefully examine the evidence that the prosecutor intends to use against you. In most cases, this evidence was collected by law enforcement. If we can show that law enforcement obtained this evidence illegally, the prosecutor cannot use it against you. This often comes up in cases involving traffic stops or vehicle searches, during which the police often trample the constitutional rights of suspects.
After suppressing the prosecution’s illegal evidence, it may be possible to request the dismissal of the case if the remaining evidence is not sufficient to support the charges. Otherwise, the case will go to trial. During the trial, your lawyer will reinterpret the prosecutor’s evidence and challenge the witnesses to show that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether you committed the offense.
In cases where the prosecutor has strong evidence against you, and the prospect of winning at trial is slim, it may be in your best interest to accept a plea bargain. If you agree to plead guilty, the prosecutor may lessen the charges or recommend a lenient sentence. The quality of your plea deal will depend on the negotiating skills and reputation of your lawyer with the prosecutor’s office.
If you need a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer to assist you with a juvenile crimes charge, Fienman Defense can help. We have a proven track record of obtaining good case results for clients facing a wide range of criminal charges. To learn more about how we may be able to assist you, call us today at (215) 839-9529 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation of your case.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to get juvenile charges dismissed or lowered. Should the case go to a hearing or trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.