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Collateral Consequences for Juvenile Defendants

Summary of Pennsylvania Juvenile Collateral Consequences

By the Pennsylvania Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network

Review and commentary by Attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini, Criminal Law Division Leader, Harrisburg, PA

I often receive a variety of reactions from my juvenile clients when I advise them of the possible outcomes from their adjudications. Most adjudications will involve probation, payment of fines, costs, and restitution, community service work and home conditions, such as obeying parents' rules and maintaining a certain grade point average. However, there are other consequences that are not directly discussed with a juvenile or their family by the probation officer or the court. These collateral consequences or "unintended results" of an adjudication may be quite severe. Here is a partial list of those consequences:

Adjudication of Delinquency

A delinquency adjudication is not an adult conviction, however is often treated like one.

Employment Opportunities

A child's ability to obtain employment or acquire licenses for certain professionals may be hindered by a delinquency adjudication. For instance, an application for McDonald's may ask "DURING THE PAST 5 YEARS HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CONVICTED OF, PLED GUILTY TO, OR PLED NO CONTEST TO A CRIME, EXCLUDING MISDEMEANORS AND TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS?"

Records Open to the Public

Juvenile records are open to the public if a 12 or 13 year old child is adjudicated delinquent of certain very serious offenses, or if a child who is 14 years old or older is adjudicated delinquent of ANY felony offense.

Access to Schools/Higher Education

Children may be expelled from public schools for delinquency adjudications for certain offenses and such information may be sent to their next school of enrollment. Further, delinquency adjudications need NOT be reported on many college applications and may, therefore, NOT bar access to federal financial aid

Public Housing- HUD and Section 8

A delinquency adjudication may affect one's ability to qualify for low cost public housing. For instance, a housing authority may properly determine if an applicant has been involved in criminal activity involving persons or property that affect the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises.


A delinquency adjudication may affect a young person's ability to enlist in the military.

Carrying a Firearm

An adjudicated juvenile of certain serious offenses, such as robbery, burglary, arson, and sexual offenses will be prevented from carrying a firearm when otherwise legally permitted to do so. This will impact one's ability to become a law enforcement officer, a security guard, or be active in the military.

DNA Samples

Children adjudicated of some misdemeanors and all felony offenses are required to submit DNA samples to the State DNA Data Base.


A young person that was adjudicated prior to 18 is able to register and vote regardless of the adjudication.

Driver's Licensing

A juvenile's license may be suspended as a result of a delinquency adjudication for certain crimes, including drug, alcohol and driving offenses.

If you have questions about a pending juvenile charge or adjudication, contact an experienced attorney first. You may contact Attorney Pasqualini