According to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, these juvenile cases qualify for direct file in Pennsylvania:
- Rape and aggravated sexual assault
- Aggravated assault
- Grand theft auto
If a teenager 15 years or older was previously tried for a serious offense (such as the robbery of a motor vehicle), this could make any subsequent charges go through the criminal court system instead of the juvenile court system.
What Is Direct File in Pennsylvania?
A direct file offense is one that does not go before the juvenile court despite being committed by a young offender. Instead, it is referred directly to the appropriate criminal court, where the teenager will be tried as an adult. From there, the prosecution of the case will occur as if the accused is over 18 years old.
Some juvenile cases qualify for direct file in Pennsylvania. This includes many serious offenses, primarily those committed by an offender who is at least 15 and involved a deadly weapon or endangered others’ safety.
When Is There an Option for Direct File?
According to the
Direct file is also an option if the juvenile who committed the offense was previously adjudicated delinquent for any of these serious crimes.
Any of the following offenses where the juvenile was 15 years of age or older at the time of the offense, and the juvenile has been previously adjudicated delinquent for one of the following offenses (even without a deadly weapon):
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Understanding Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System
Pennsylvania has a restorative juvenile justice system that has strict rules in place meant to ensure young offenders are not punished. Instead, the system seeks to rehabilitate, educate, and redeem them, preventing teens who face accusations of wrongdoing from becoming future repeat offenders.
To this end, there are many benefits for an accused teen going before a juvenile court. A juvenile adjudication does not mean time behind bars. Even when a teen has to go to a residential facility, it is not a prison. Instead, they receive counseling, education, and other beneficial services.
Once the teen completes their rehabilitation as a teen offender in the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania, their record can be expunged. This policy applies to all cases adjudicated by the juvenile justice system, so young offenders in Pennsylvania have a clear record when they turn 18.
What Can You Do if Your Child Is Facing Allegations in a Direct File Case?
There are some gray areas when it comes to some direct file cases. Having a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney representing your teen could get their case moved back to juvenile court, reduce the charges they face, or otherwise help your family get a more favorable outcome.
If the prosecutors have already begun the direct file case in criminal court, you should consider acting quickly. Hiring a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer is key. They may be able to petition for “decertification,” which would move the case back to juvenile court if approved.
This requires presenting a strong argument that the teen would benefit from rehabilitation, counseling, and education available in the juvenile justice system. This is the best opportunity for most teens in this position.
The judge in the case will make the decision based on several factors, including:
- The age of the offender
- Their maturity, intelligence, emotional intelligence, and other details
- The alleged crime and its related details
- How the teen would benefit from the juvenile justice system
- How this decision could affect public safety
This process generally requires a hearing where the teen’s attorney will provide evidence, sound arguments, statements from witnesses, and other data to try to convince the judge that the teen would greatly benefit from decertifying the case. The judge will likely rule during this hearing.
Decertifying the case does not mean an acquittal or dismissal of the charges against the teen. The case will still be heard by the juvenile courts.
Why Partner with a Criminal Defense Attorney on Your Child’s Case?
Getting your child’s case decertified is more than convincing the judge about your child’s good moral character. It involves understanding your child’s charges, having evidence, and advocating for your child’s future.
If your child is facing serious criminal charges, do not leave their case’s outcome to chance. When you partner with a criminal defense lawyer from our firm, you can rest assured that we’ll do everything possible to secure a just outcome.
Connect with Our Team About Your Teen’s Case Today
The Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC offers free consultations for those facing criminal allegations. If your teen or another loved one is facing accusations of a direct file offense in Pennsylvania, we can help. We represent young offenders in both the juvenile justice system and adult courts.
Reach out to our team today to learn more.