Defense attorney Jeffrey Engle served as a juvenile hearing examiner for Dauphin County for the better part of seven years. He has seen and judged thousands of juvenile delinquency and dependency matters throughout those years. He was fortunate to be one of only four attorneys appointed by the president judge of Dauphin County to serve the Dauphin County Court System, which handles approximately 5,000 delinquency matters in a year.

Attorney Engle's knowledge and experience with the juvenile court system, combined with the earned respect of his peers and the judges of the Commonwealth, provide your child with the very best representation. He works alongside renowned criminal defense attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini to give your child the best defense possible throughout Pennsylvania.

An Overview Of Juvenile Criminal Defense

"The Condition of Being a Boy Does Not Require a Kangaroo Court."

Juvenile court cases have greatly increased in number and importance in recent years, due largely to the unprecedented increase in juvenile delinquency and crime throughout the United States. Public concern about these trends has become deep and serious.

The 20th century has seen a great change in the attitude of the state toward its offending children. The early criminal law did not differentiate between the adult and the minor who had reached the age of criminal responsibility. In some states, a seven-year-old child could be given the same prison term as a hardened criminal. Today, however, the trend is away from retribution and toward reformation, and it is almost universally recognized that the rehabilitation of its wayward children is a prime goal of an enlightened society.

Dependent Children

A typical definition of a dependent child is one who, while under the age of 18 years, for any reason requires the protection and assistance of the court, through no overt fault of his parents. It may be one who is without a proper parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian, and who is in need of a properly appointed guardian or custodian. It may be one who is in need of special medical, educational, or social services that his parents are unable to provide. Or, finally, it may be one whose parents, with good cause, wish to be relieved of guardianship and custody of the child.

Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquents generally include minors under a certain age (18 in Pennsylvania), who violate any ordinance of any city or county, or law of the state or nation defining a crime, or who do any act which, if done by an adult, would constitute a crime.

The primary purpose of the juvenile court is to hear cases involving delinquent and dependent juveniles within its jurisdiction, and to determine what disposition would be best to meet the needs of the particular youngsters, as well as the best interests of society. Its purpose is thus two-fold:

  1. To find from the evidence adduced whether the facts alleged in the petition are true and sufficient to bring the juvenile within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
  2. To determine in what manner the jurisdiction, thus found to exist, should be exercised.

Correction And Rehabilitation

The juvenile court is designed to implement the proposition that the most effective way to handle juvenile offenders is by correction and rehabilitation, not retributive punishment. The statute is not punitive, but is corrective and protective in that its purpose is to make good citizens out of potentially bad ones. Accordingly, the juvenile court adjudicates status, rather than a conviction of crime with the stigma attached thereto. The rehabilitation of the minor should not be sacrificed to other goals of the state, however proper they may be. The paramount concern is the welfare and best interests of the minor.

How Our Firm Can Help

At Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC, we pride ourselves on our experience and compassionate response to juvenile court matters. We understand the potential stigma that may be attached to your child being branded a "JUVENILE DEFENDANT" in a criminal case. Let us closely examine the facts of your case and discuss the legal ramifications of the police interaction with your child.

We defend young people accused of a wide variety of crimes and statutory offenses, including:

  • Truancy
  • Computer crimes, including hacking and unauthorized entry into computer systems
  • Possession of marijuana or other illegal drugs
  • Underage drinking, DUI less than 21
  • Property crimes, such as theft or shoplifting
  • Sex crimes, such as " sexting"
  • Traffic violations

By properly coordinating our efforts we can most often facilitate the proper outcome of your child's case. Or, in the alternative, vigorously defend your child through all the various court stages from intake interviews with a juvenile probation officer to post-dispositional matters after an adjudicatory hearing.

Contact our Harrisburg law office at 717-827-4074 to talk with a juvenile defense lawyer.