Juvenile Probation FAQ
Northampton County Court of Common Pleas
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At what age can I get involved with the juvenile court?
The Juvenile Court has jurisdiction over a person who is alleged to have committed a delinquent act after turning ten years of age and before reaching eighteen years of age. The juvenile court can maintain jurisdiction over an individual up to age twenty-one.
What is a delinquent act?
A delinquent act is an act that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult. When a juvenile is found guilty of committing a delinquent act, he or she is adjudicated delinquent; not convicted of a crime.
What is a detention hearing?
A detention hearing is an informal hearing where the court will determine whether you should remain in detention, shelter care or under some other pre-hearing supervision until the adjudicatory hearing.
What is an adjudicatory hearing?
In an adjudicatory hearing you are not contesting (denying) that you committed the offense with which you were charged. The admission is being made freely and you have not been promised anything. The judge will be told details of your offense (charge) and based on your admission the judge will adjudicate you a delinquent child. The judge must also decide whether you are in need of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation. A hearing of this type is generally much shorter (15-30 minutes) than a contested adjudicatory hearing. Note: Prior to the judge adjudicating you a delinquent child you still have an opportunity to deny the charge(s) and have a contested adjudicatory hearing.
What is a contested adjudicatory hearing?
A contested adjudicatory hearing is like a trial to determine whether the evidence shows that you committed the offense with which you were charged. The judge will hear evidence from witnesses for both sides. After listening to this testimony, the judge must decide whether the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the acts that you were charged with. If, at that hearing, the judge decides that you committed the act(s), he or she will adjudicate you a delinquent child and must also decide whether you are in need of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation. A hearing of this type can last several hours.
What is a disposition hearing?
A disposition hearing is like a sentencing hearing. If you are found to be delinquent child by the court, at disposition the judge must determine what type of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation is appropriate for you. Disposition is supposed to benefit both the child and community. Some examples include placement in a facility or a foster home, probation, community service, or restitution.
Do I have a record after I turn 18?
Yes. To have juvenile records destroyed, you or any other concerned party must get your record expunged.
What is expungement?
Expungement means that your juvenile records are erased and no one can see it. If you want to ask the court for an expungement, you have to file a motion. For help filing a motion for expungement, contact your attorney or probation officer.
Am I eligible to have my juvenile records expunged?
The court will expunge your records if it finds any of the following:
- The complaint is not substantiated (has no basis) or is dismissed.
- Six months have passed since your final discharge from supervision under a consent decree and no juvenile or criminal charges are pending.
- Five years have passed since your final discharge from commitment, placement, or any other disposition and no further charges have been filed or are pending.
- You are 18 or older, the prosecutor has agreed to the expungement, and the court has considered:
- the type of offense
- your age
- history of employment
- criminal activity
- drug or alcohol problems
- problems you might experience if the records are not expunged
- whether keeping a record will help protect public safety
How do I answer if a college or trade school application asks me if I was convicted of a crime?
A criminal conviction is not the same as a juvenile adjudication. If you only have been found delinquent by a juvenile court, you have not been convicted of a crime and can answer "no" to this question.
Can having a juvenile record be barrier to enlisting in the military?
Yes. Having a juvenile record can stand in the way of enlisting in the military. Because the branches of the military are federal agencies they are allowed to apply their own rules and regulations, which may be different from state law. The military can see your juvenile record even if you got it expunged. The military requires "moral fitness" of its soldiers. Having certain juvenile adjudications on your record may lead to the military concluding that you are not morally fit for enlistment based on their regulations.
How are restitution, fees, fines, and costs collected?
If you are directed to pay any of the above, you will be given a fee sheet which outlines what you owe and where to pay. All payments are directed to the Criminal Division (lower level) in the Northampton County Courthouse, located at 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042. Payments can be made in a lump sum or installments, and should be paid in full at case closing. When mailing a payment, only money orders will be accepted and if you want a receipt you will need to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope. Payments of cash, money orders and Visa/Master Card (only by the cardholder) can be made in person at Criminal Division.
Where can I do my community service?
Community service is often a condition of probation used by the Juvenile Court Judges and the Juvenile Probation Officers to assist in the treatment and rehabilitation of the juvenile. The juvenile is ordered to perform volunteer work at a local non-profit agency or municipality as a consequence for their delinquent behavior. Community service work assignments will be sought with the value of the work experience in mind. By providing the opportunities to have juveniles interact with others, while gaining a sense of satisfaction and accomplishments from the service they perform. Parents are encouraged to make suggestions for possible work sites for their child.
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