Juvenile DUI Defense

Juvenile Criminal Defense in PA — Protecting Your Child’s Future 

It is a fact that the stakes are frequently highest in juvenile criminal defense cases. The truth is that most of us adults can look back on our juvenile lives and feel at least somewhat embarrassed about some of the things we did. The difference now, however, is that juveniles who get in trouble are much more likely to be charged (as opposed to simply being taken home by the police with a stern warning) and end up with a permanent criminal record.

Most criminal defense lawyers spend almost all of their time dealing with adult criminal defendants in adult criminal court and are not appropriately familiar with juvenile court. This presents a definite problem because juvenile court is completely different from adult court and has numerous different results and options available to juvenile defendants.

If your child is charged with a crime, it is important to call a Montgomery County, PA Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney to fully discuss his or her rights and options. Call Attorney Erik Petersen now for a free case review.

Juvenile Law — The Stakes Are High

I have represented many juveniles charged with a crime over the years. I have seen some juveniles emerge from the situation with a new attitude and go on to complete their education and become happy and productive citizens. Unfortunately, I have also seen juveniles continue to get in trouble and end up in adult prisons.

The stakes are so high for juvenile defendants. Of all the defendants I represent, these are the people whose lives are most impressionable and who truly need the best care and attention to make sure they get the best possible result. And yet many criminal defense attorneys have little experience in juvenile court and do not understand the various options available to juvenile defendants.

I aggressively represent my juvenile clients to make sure they get a result that allows them to be held accountable while, at the same time, giving them a chance to emerge from the situation with a positive future and a clean criminal record. There are few things more professionally rewarding to me than having a young adult who I helped as a juvenile reach out to me to let me know they have moved on to become a successful young adult.

If you would like me to help you and your child get through the juvenile justice system, please contact me ASAP.

PA Juvenile DUI Defense

Pennsylvania law has a zero tolerance approach to juvenile DUI offenders. The legal allowable blood alcohol limit in Pennsylvania for persons under the age of 21 is .02 percent. Even taking a legal over-the-counter cold or cough remedy that contains alcohol may put your minor child over the blood alcohol content of .02 percent.

If your teenager has been charged with a juvenile DUI, it is important to retain an attorney who fully understands the juvenile justice system and can protect and fight for your child’s rights throughout the juvenile DUI defense process.

Although juvenile DUI offenders do not have the option of participating in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD Program), there are other programs available for juveniles — such as Informal Adjustments or Consent Decrees — that can ultimately result in the charges being dismissed and eligible for expungement. You should definitely consult with an attorney experienced in juvenile DUI defense so that you fully understand your child’s choices.

Juvenile Charges in PA — Working with Parents

As a juvenile criminal defense lawyer, it is important to fully explain the process to both the juvenile defendant and his or her parents. I have found that in most cases, the juvenile truly regrets the behavior resulting in the charges. Indeed, in most cases, the juvenile is a good person, often from a good family, that badly wants to do what it takes to move on from the incident and live a law-abiding and productive life.

The problem is that unless the juvenile gets a positive result that can one day be expunged from the criminal record, the juvenile charges may literally haunt him or her for their entire life. I have seen too many people emerge from the juvenile system with a result that will never be expunged. Juveniles who end up with a lawyer who does not understand the juvenile system — or is too busy to focus on the individual case — can end up with a result that they regret for years.

I have been a lawyer in Montgomery County, PA for over 20 years. I have practiced juvenile criminal law as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. I understand the rights and options facing juvenile defendants and would be honored to help your child get through the juvenile justice system.

PA Underage Drinking Laws

One of the most common juvenile charges involves Underage Drinking. Sometimes juveniles charged with this offense are encouraged to “just pay the fine” and the case will be over with. This is almost always terrible advice that will negatively effect a juvenile’s future.

For the short term, it is important to know that an Underage Drinking conviction will result in a 3-month license suspension for a first offense (and a 1-year suspension for a second or subsequent offense). From a longer-term perspecgive, an Underage Drinking offense is a criminal conviction that can be on your child’s criminal history for life.

Anyone charged with Underage Drinking, whether or not it involves a Juvenile DUI charge, should speak with a Montgomery County Juvenile DUI Defense Lawyer to fully understand the rights and options.

Juvenile Crimes — Negotiating the Best Result

I have a strong relationship with people in the Montgomery County, PA juvenile justice system who I consult with to determine whether a an appropriate “plea bargain” may be in the best interest of my juvenile clients. Sometimes such a negotiated result can result in the juvenile being placed on the “Expungement List” — by agreement with the District Attorney — which can allow the juvenile to move past the entire incident, expunge their record and put everything behind them.

Sonmetimes, however, it is necessary to prepare to fight the charges. I also have relationships with experts, including juvenile psychologists and behavioral experts, who assist me in evaluating options and, if necessary, preparing a vigorous and comprehensive defense against juvenile charges.

Call Attorney Erik Petersen so that I may fully and carefully evaluate your child’s case.

PA Juvenile Law — Rehabilitation vs. Punishment

Juveniles being charged with a crime present a difficult challange to the criminal justice system. Should juveniles who commit crimes be treated differently than adults? Is the answer different for violent crimes? Is prison or being housed in a “juvenile facility” a useful punishment and deterrant for juveniles or does it harden a houng person who could otherwise recover and live a peaceful and law-abiding life?

These are questions that legislators and juvenile crime experts have wrestled with for many years. Fortunately, in Pennsylvania, there is a recognition that for juvenile defendants, the focus should be more on rehabilitation than punishment. Certainly juvenile defendants have to be held accountable, but the overriding focus in most cases is rehabilitating the juvenile so that he or she learns from the experience and has an opportunity to move on to a positive future.

The reality, however, is that without the proper representation, juveniles can end up with a result that does not help them move on to a positive future or cannot be expunged from their record. This is why juvenile criminal defendants should absolutely be represented by an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer who understands the system and can make sure they get the best possible result.

The “Expungement List” — Expunging Juvenile Criminal Charges 

By law, a juvenile charged with a crime may be placed on the “Expungement List” as part of the disposition or sentence. However a juvenile does not have a right to be placed on the Expungement List. In Montgomery County, PA, the District Attorney’s Office must agree to have the juvenile placed on the Expungement List — the juvenile Judge cannot simply do this alone.

By agreeing to Expungement List as part of a negotiated sentence, the District Attorney’s Office is promising not to object to an expungement petition once the juvenile has successfully completed the terms of his or her sentence. That is, once probation (or placement) is completed, the juvenile can get the record expunged so that he or she can move on with his or her life.

Anyone whose child is charged with a crime should consult with a Montgomery County, PA juvenile defense lawyer to see whether the case can be placed on the Expungement List or otherwise expunged from the criminal record. Otherwise your child can end up with a permanent criminal record that will make it hard to obtain employment in the future.