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Juvenile Defense Attorneys in Harrisburg

Aggressively Protecting Your Child’s Rights, Freedom & Future

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 1 of only 4 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 highest-quality representation. He works alongside renowned criminal defense attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini to give your child excellent defense.

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 their 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 their 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:

  • 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.
  • To determine in what manner the jurisdiction, thus found to exist, should be exercised.

Correction & 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, 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:

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

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 Shaffer & Engle at (717) 268-4287 to talk with a juvenile defense lawyer in Harrisburg.

Defending Clients Charged with Sexting-Related Crimes

There are situations in which sexting is problematic, such as when it is done secretly with the intent of causing embarrassment or harm. But most often, this is not the case and it is simply an expression of love between two young people who don't realize the negative effects such actions can have if these images fall into the wrong hands.

At Shaffer & Engle, we provide a strong and serious defense against criminal charges young people face. Our juvenile defense lawyers in Harrisburg understand young people and the challenges they face when they enter the juvenile justice system. Our goal is to ensure your child does not suffer serious penalties for self-expression between peers protected by the First Amendment.

If your child has been charged with a sexting-related crime, speak to experienced defense attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini to get the help you need. Call (717) 268-4287 today. We serve clients throughout Dauphin County.

Understanding Sexting Charges in Pennsylvania

On June 29, 2010, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed House Bill 2189, which created a new juvenile offense, Section 6321 "Sexting by Minors." The bill makes it a crime for juveniles to knowingly record, view, possess, or transmit sexually explicit images of persons over 13 but under 18 via cell phone, e-mail, or the Internet. The definition of "sexually explicit" can include semi-nude photos.

There are a few district attorneys in Pennsylvania who have charged teens with a felony offense for sexting, saying it falls under the child pornography statute. However, no Pennsylvania court has upheld a felony child pornography conviction for teen sexting.

While the DA's office seems to think this is a good way to address a problem behavior by teens, there are no sentencing guidelines for this misdemeanor under the Juvenile Act. A judge can impose any sentence up to 4 years, with jurisdiction lasting until the young person is 21.

A criminal charge of any kind can have a serious, negative effect on a young person's life. Whether a felony or misdemeanor, a charge under the Juvenile Act could result in time in a juvenile detention center and a juvenile record that could lead to problems finding a job or getting financial aid for school until the young person is able to get his or her record sealed or expunged.

Criminalizing an admittedly unwise behavior that 25 percent of teens engage in, consensually, is taking things too far.

About Underage Drinking in Pennsylvania

The consumption of a drink or two by an underage drinker can seem like a minor offense but can quickly lead to serious charges and consequences.

A conviction for underage drinking can lead to:

  • Fines
  • Loss of driving privileges
  • A criminal record and subsequent problems with employment and educational opportunities

The law takes underage drinking seriously. It is wise to do the same when your child faces underage drinking criminal charges.

At Shaffer & Engle, we are local attorneys providing experienced criminal defense to communities throughout central Pennsylvania. Our team includes a former juvenile hearing examiner and, collectively, our lawyers have handled thousands of criminal cases. We are fully familiar with the legal issues involved in defending your legal rights.

Experienced Defense against Prosecutors' Tactics

The state can work to make your underage charges stick using a broad range of approaches.

In addition to using a preliminary breath test, prosecutors are allowed to pursue a conviction by:

  • Inference
  • Witness testimony
  • Breath odor in conjunction with a Breathalyzer

We can work to question police tactics, question witnesses' statement, and, in some instances, pursue a pre-adjudication disposition. For more information regarding underage drinking charges and your rights, contact our firm.

Experienced defense attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini understands the consequences of underage drinking and can help you and your child protect their future.

Call (717) 268-4287 to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you face underage drinking charges, contact the experienced criminal defense law firm of Shaffer & Engle. We provide free initial consultations and can help you with all your criminal defense needs. Call now and speak with a knowledgeable juvenile defense attorney in Harrisburg.

What Our
Clients Have to Say

  • Mr. Engle took my matter as if it were his own and followed through to the end.

    “I contacted Mr. Engle back in August. My custody case had originated in Delaware in 2013 and was the final hearing was held in May of 2015. After the other party objected DE having jurisdiction, he took matters into his own hands and got PA involved - where he lives. In a panic I called Mr. Engle after being referred to him by my DE attorney. Even though I wasn't a client and I did not have an appointment scheduled, Mr Engle took the time out to hear the background information, calm me down and come to, what I thought, was a good conclusion. Fast forward 4 months later and every email, phone call and frantic visit to his office was greeted with kindness and patience...and if he was unavailable, his staff showed the same warm professionalism. I could be sure that I would hear back from him within the same business day - sometimes even on his downtime after hours - or first thing in the morning. Mr. Engle took my matter as if it were his own and followed through to the end. I would not hesitate to call on Mr. Engle again if the occasion ever arose.”

    Rebekah

  • BEYOND AMAZING...

    “Elisabeth helped me through the most traumatic turning point in my life where I felt so alone and had no support except the fact that I needed to get through my disposition to ensure I would be able to continue to excel in my college studies and provide a better life for my young daughter who I am raising alone. Elisabeth provided me with encouraging words and any possible leads she had come across. I was amazed at how caring she was regarding matters outside of the actual case! After court, Thanks to Elisabeth, I was able to come home and continue to be a rock for my family. Since, I have recently ran out of funding 29 credits shy of my degree but still proud to finish the last semester with a 4.0 gpa making the Deans List five times still maintain work having also begun raising my orphaned seventeen year old god daughter who I came to know as one of the trouble kids at my local Boys & Girls Club where I was hired after completing the community service requirements in my case. I do not receive any financial help from government programs for my budding family but I begged for Elisabeth to take money for her exceptional service and she refused. I am forever grateful for her kindness and love each time that I look at my girls. She treated me like family and she didn't have to, she believed in me and encouraged me and stayed true to her word and I genuinely love and appreciate her for that beyond words. I trusted her with a long shot and she hit it out of the parking lot! Like my title says BEYOND AMAZING...”

    Jaimeen A.

  • He treated me with respect and always made me feel like my case was his only priority.

    “Because I live out of state, I needed representation that I could trust to best represent me and my interests. Jeff Engle provided regular, thorough counsel throughout the legal process. He treated me with respect and always made me feel like my case was his only priority.”

    KH

  • Jeff presents himself as a very knowledgeable and able attorney with sincere personal interest in the success of your case.

    “From the minute you call Jeff Engle's office, you are treated with first class respect and service. Jeff is very up front about his experience, results and belief in the success or possible issues with your case. From the time of retainment, Jeff's use of electronic forms of communication keep you up to date to the minute whenever there are developments and progress in your case. This type of communication is nearly unheard of in ANY profession. Many times, I knew that Jeff was taking his personal time to communicate with me. Jeff presents himself as a very knowledgeable and able attorney with sincere personal interest in the success of your case. During times of uncertainty, having someone of Jeff's demeanor at your side will simply make you feel that no matter what the outcome may be, he is right there with you. There was not one time during the course of my case that I felt Jeff was not thoughtful and prepared for. I cannot say enough for the level of professionalism this man presents while representing you as a client.”

    Kevin

  • He has a great personality and makes you feel welcome and comfortable.

    “Mr. Engle took our case and worked diligently from the time we hired his firm until our case was resolved. In addition he kept us well informed throughout the process with emails, letters, and phone conversations. I have worked with a number of law firms in the past 10 plus years and Attorney Engle is one of the best. He does not make you feel as if you are a burden to him when you ask questions. He has a great personality and makes you feel welcome and comfortable. He makes no promises due to the fact he is not a fortune teller but he will do everything possible to have a positive outcome for your case. I recommend Attorney Engle and his Law Firm and hold nothing but positive praise for him and his team.”

    Paul W.