What should parents know about juvenile offenses?

When your child gets in trouble with the law in Pennsylvania, you may wonder what is going to happen next. Juvenile law is sometimes different from adult law and it is important to understand these differences and how they might affect your son or daughter. 

When your child commits a crime, you might wonder if the public will learn about this offense. According to the Pennsylvania Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network, juvenile offenses are typically only part of the public record if they meet certain criteria. One of the criteria is the type of offense. If a minor commits arson, rape or aggravated assault, for example, then the offense may become part of the public record. Additionally, if your teenager is at least 14 years old and commits an offense that a court considers a felony, then the offense may become public knowledge. If your son or daughter’s offense does not meet these criteria, then members of the public generally cannot access these records.

You may also worry about your child’s access to education after he or she commits a crime. Most of the time, a court will send records about the offense to your son or daughter’s school. It is usually up to school administrators to decide whether to expel your child. If administrators expel your adolescent child or if you decide to remove him or her from the school, it is important to remember that your child’s new record will also transfer to the new school. School administrators generally consider expulsion on a case-by-case basis, and the offense your child committed may be a determining factor.

You might also wonder if your son or daughter will be able to get a job afterward. When your child applies for a job, he or she does not legally have to list a juvenile offense. However, employers can access a juvenile record if they show there is a valid reason for them to consider the offense. Your son or daughter may want to list the offense because employers may think your child lied if they learn about the offense later on. It may be a good idea to consider having this offense expunged from your child’s record. 

This information is general in nature. People should not use it in place of legal advice.