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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.

What are Dependent Children in Harrisburg

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 our experienced defense attorney 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.

Our experienced defense attorneys understand 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

  • They handled everything beautifully and were able to minimize our anxiety throughout a difficult process.

    “Jeff is the fourth attorney that I have worked with regarding custody of my son. My previous attorneys were neither knowledgeable of the law as it applied to my case nor followed through on the actions they said they would take. Not only did Jeff know what he was doing, but he did everything that he said he would in a timely fashion. Given that my case involved an international relocation, allocation of sole custody for residency purposes abroad, and a non-custodial parent who was anything but cooperative, there was a high likelihood that my case would be unsuccessful with even the potential of being ordered to return to the US to maintain physical custody of my son. Today my child and I are happily living abroad and I was able to obtain the residency permit for my son to remain here. I attribute the success of my case to Jeff and his firm. They handled everything beautifully and were able to minimize our anxiety throughout a difficult process. Thank you!”

    Former Client

  • He took the time to explain the process, understand the facts of my case and provide suggestions like retaining a private investigator.

    “I came to Shaffer & Engle Law Offices searching for hope after I entered a plea in my criminal case. I had a false allegation filed against me for a sexual offense that I did not commit. I was involved with another lawyer for 2 ½ years, when it came down to day before court we felt he was not prepared to represent me. I either took the plea of "Nolo Contendere" or went to jail the day of the trial. I felt trapped. I had this allegation against me and I was innocent. I met with the Attorney Engle. He took the time to explain the process, understand the facts of my case and provide suggestions like retaining a private investigator. He offered to represent me and quickly moved to withdraw my guilty plea. That was granted by the court and we proceeded to prepare for trial. They uncovered many things that our other lawyer did not bother to investigate. They met with character witnesses after hours to make sure my defense would be solid. Long story short, the DA in my case withdrew the charges. I went from a convicted man to completely being vindicated. Shaffer and Engle Law Offices also were able to assist me in another matter relating to the criminal case, but in civil court. The same results, all charges were dismissed. I appreciate the work they did, their prompt service, care and attention they showed to me and my family. I found their services to be affordable when compared to what they did for me. I would highly recommend them for anyone charged with a crime that they did not do.”

    JH

  • I will without hesitation, recommend you and your firm to my friends, family and colleagues in PA.

    “Thank you for taking my case and winning it! As you can see, I received my New York license today. Without your counsel and direction, this would have been an ongoing nightmare. I will without hesitation, recommend you and your firm to my friends, family and colleagues in PA.”

    Dan

  • 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

  • Jeff provided us with clear advice and immediate responses to my multitude of questions and concerns.

    “Jeff provided us with clear advice and immediate responses to my multitude of questions and concerns. We are grateful our case is finally settled and would certainly recommend him.”

    Former Client