Learning that your child is facing criminal charges can be among the most stressful things a parent or guardian can experience. In such overwhelming circumstances, it is essential to enlist the services of an experienced Pittsburgh juvenile crimes attorney who can help you understand what options are available to protect your child’s future.

The skilled and knowledgeable juvenile law lawyers at SMT Legal understand the anxiety that can come up when a young person is dealing with criminal charges. We are here to set your mind at ease. We will make time to listen to your child’s story so we can build a robust defense strategy for their criminal case. Wherever possible, we will seek alternative forms of justice. Most importantly, we will be there by your child’s side every step of the way. Call us today or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation with a juvenile criminal defense attorney in Pittsburgh.

Consequences of Juvenile Crimes

The consequences of juvenile crimes can be far-reaching and long-lasting. In the short term, your child may face fines, probation, or community service. These punishments can be disruptive to their daily life, causing them to miss school or extracurricular activities. However, it is the long-term consequences that can be the most devastating.

A juvenile criminal record can follow your child for years, making it difficult for them to find employment, secure housing, or pursue higher education. Even if their record is sealed, it may still be accessible to certain employers or institutions. This can limit your child’s opportunities and hinder their ability to build a successful future.

This is why you need the guidance of a skilled juvenile crimes attorney. An experienced lawyer can work to minimize the consequences of your child’s actions, fighting for alternative forms of justice whenever possible. They can also help to ensure that your child’s rights are protected throughout the legal process, giving them the best chance at a positive outcome.

At SMT Legal, we understand the stakes involved in juvenile criminal cases. Our law firm is dedicated to providing compassionate, aggressive representation to help your child overcome their challenges and build a brighter future

Underage Crimes Charges We Defend

The criminal defense attorneys at SMT Legal have experience defending young people against a wide range of criminal charges, including the following:
  • Assault
  • Automobile theft
  • Drug charges
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Fake ID charges
  • Sexual assault
  • Shoplifting
  • Trespassing
  • Underage drinking
Children under the age of 18 can face virtually any charge an adult can. The most significant question in juvenile delinquency cases is whether your child will face charges in juvenile court or, in serious cases where prosecutors believe public safety is a significant concern, in criminal court.

Felony Prosecution in Criminal Court

Some circumstances may result in your child being charged as an adult in a criminal court. For example, all charges relating to murder will initially be prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system regardless of your child’s age.

If your child is 15 or older and has been charged with a violent crime such as rape or robbery, Pennsylvania calls for initial prosecution in criminal court without any initial proceedings in juvenile court. This is also true if a child of 15 or older is charged with using a deadly weapon while committing any of the following crimes

  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Aggravated assault
  • Aggravated indecent assault
  • Robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
  • Carjacking
If your child is convicted of one of these felonies in a criminal court, they may spend a significant portion of the remainder of their life in prison. As such, if your child is facing these charges, it is imperative to consult with a juvenile crime lawyer immediately. A skilled defense attorney can seek to convince the court that the child is a worthy candidate for supervised treatment and rehabilitation. This can increase the likelihood that the case will be tried in juvenile court.

Juvenile Court Process

The juvenile court system is designed to rehabilitate young offenders rather than punish them. As such, the process can be quite different from what you might expect in an adult criminal court.

Intake Hearing

In Pennsylvania, the juvenile court process typically begins with an intake hearing. During this hearing, a probation officer will review the case and decide whether to dismiss the charges, handle the matter informally, or proceed with formal charges. If formal charges are filed, the case will move to an adjudication hearing.

Adjudication Hearing

The adjudication hearing is similar to a trial in an adult court. However, instead of a jury, a judge will hear the evidence and decide whether your child is delinquent (the equivalent of guilty in juvenile cases). If your child is found delinquent, the case will proceed to a disposition hearing.

Disposition Hearing

At the disposition hearing, the judge will determine the appropriate course of action. This could include probation, community service, or placement in a juvenile detention facility. The judge’s decision will be based on a variety of factors, including the severity of the offense, your child’s prior record, and their individual needs.

Alternatives to Traditional Prosecution

Traditional prosecution is not always the best solution when a child is accused of a crime. Fortunately, several alternatives can help young offenders take responsibility for their actions, make amends, and avoid the negative consequences of a criminal record.

Diversion Program

One such alternative is a diversion program. These programs are designed to divert youth away from the formal court system and provide them with the support and resources they need to get back on track. Diversion programs may include counseling, mentoring, educational assistance, and community service. If your child successfully completes a diversion program, the charges against them may be dismissed.

Restorative Justice

Another alternative is restorative justice. This approach focuses on repairing the harm caused by the crime rather than simply punishing the offender. It often involves bringing together the victim, the offender, and community members to discuss the crime’s impact and develop a plan for making things right. Restorative justice can be a powerful tool for promoting healing, accountability, and positive change.

Mentoring and Counseling

Mentoring and counseling programs are also valuable alternatives to traditional prosecution. These programs pair young offenders with positive role models who can provide guidance, support, and encouragement. By addressing the underlying issues that may have contributed to the child’s criminal behavior, mentoring and counseling can help youth develop the skills and mindset they need to avoid future offenses.

Contact SMT Legal Today

At SMT Legal, we believe in exploring all available options to help our young clients achieve the most favorable outcome possible. Our juvenile defense attorneys are well-versed in the various alternatives to traditional prosecution and can provide legal advice to help you determine which approach suits your child’s unique situation. We are committed to helping youth overcome their challenges and build a foundation for a successful future.

To learn more about how SMT Legal will handle your child’s case, call our offices today or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation. We look forward to discussing your child’s situation, answering your questions, addressing your concerns, and explaining what we will do to help.


Thomas Sporrer Thomas Sporrer - SMT Legal Thomas Sporrer - SMT Legal
Thomas’s clients say of working with him that he was “very clear with his strategy of my case from the consultation to the court date.” Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Thomas enjoys helping his hometown community.

Practice Area

Pittsburgh Legal Blog