How Do I Handle Juvenile Charges In Pennsylvania?

portrait of handcuffed young man with face hidden by sweatshirt hood

If you are under 18, break the law, and have been charged with a juvenile offense, you will receive a summons/notice to appear, and a juvenile allegation of delinquency and a juvenile petition. You should call Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 and he can answer your questions.

Police Questioning

Before questioning you, a police officer must try to contact your parents or legal guardian. If they ask, you must tell the police your real name and address. You do not have to tell them anything else and you should not make any statements without an attorney present. Therefore you must ask for an attorney and if you do the police must stop questioning you.

Asking for a lawyer

You have a right to a lawyer, and it is important to ask for one. If you do not ask for one, your parents can ask for you. Asking for a lawyer does not mean that you think you are guilty. A lawyer can advise you on what you should or should not answer. When the police question you, they do not have to tell the truth. They are trained to use interrogation techniques, such as making up facts or evidence that can be used against you. A lawyer can help you so never speak with the police without your lawyer present.

If you want a lawyer before your “initial appearance” in Court, such as when you are being questioned by the police, it is up to you or your parents to find a lawyer. You should call Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park, PA.

Initial Court Appearance

Unless you had a detention hearing, this is your first appearance in Court. At the initial appearance:

  • you ask for a lawyer to be appointed to you if you do not already have one
  • the charge against you will be read aloud and
  • you admit or deny the charge. Remember: Talk to an attorney before you do this!

There will be a Public Defender at Court who will talk to everyone who is charged with a juvenile offense and who does not have an attorney. The Public Defender will talk to you for free and will advise you of your rights. Anything you tell the Public Defender is confidential. Talk to the Public Defender before you talk to the District Attorney. Anything you tell the District Attorney can be used against you. Talk to the Public Defender before you admit or deny the charge in Court. After talking to you, the Public Defender may help you settle your case. If you deny the charge, and you want a lawyer, you have to ask the Court to appoint a lawyer to you.

If you admit to the charge, you have been “adjudicated,” and the Court will schedule a disposition hearing (see below).

If you deny the charge, make sure that you meet with your lawyer as soon as possible. Do not wait for your lawyer to call you. If you deny the charge, the Court will schedule a “first hearing,” which is basically a negotiation day, before your trial. At a “first hearing” there will not be a trial, so you do not need to bring witnesses. You lawyer does not have to go to the first hearing, but it is a good idea if he does. Ask your lawyer to go to this hearing with you. This is a good time to bring in proof of counseling, community service, good performance at school, etc. This will help your lawyer negotiate a better disposition for you. If your case does not settle at the “first hearing,” a hearing, which is your trial date, will be scheduled.

Adjudication

You are adjudicated if you formally “admit” to the juvenile offense in Court, or after a hearing by the Judge you are found to have committed the offense. Most cases settle and never go to hearing. But if you deny the charge and have a hearing, the State must prove that you committed the offense. You have a right to defend yourself and have a lawyer represent you. There is no jury, just a Judge. If the Judge finds you that you committed the offense, then you are “adjudged” guilty. Your case will then move on to a “dispositional” hearing. The dispositional hearing is usually held on a different day after your adjudication hearing.

Disposition Hearing

Instead of getting sentenced, you receive a “disposition.” The primary purpose of the disposition is to rehabilitate you. The Court can order the terms of the disposition, but most dispositions are agreed to without a hearing. It is very important that you have a lawyer represent you in the negotiations for your disposition.

For a dispositional hearing, your probation officer should prepare a report with recommendations. The District Attorney, will also make recommendations to the Court. You also have a right to argue for a specific disposition, and your lawyer can introduce evidence (school records, counselor statement, family testimony, etc.) to support your position. After the Judge hears all the evidence, he will decide. Even if you have an agreement with the State, the Judge will still review it to make sure that your interests and the public’s interests are protected. The Judge follows the District Attorney’s recommendations in practically all of the cases. Call Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park if you are changed with a crime.

What Should I Do If I Receive a Criminal Summons / Notice To Appear?

Man reacting in shock to a letter
A Criminal Summons or Notice to Appear is a piece of paper that tells you the time and date to come to Court and the Court location. The police will serve a Summons if the State thinks that you have committed an offense. A Summons is not an arrest. You will not be taken into custody. But you must go to Court when the Summons tells you to or else a bench warrant will issue for your arrest. If you cannot make it to Court you must contact the court immediately to notify them and reschedule your reporting time. After going to court you will have to go to the police station to get fingerprinted and photographed. However, do not give any statements to the police without your attorney present.

If you are a juvenile you will also receive a Juvenile Allegation of Delinquency which is an affidavit signed by the police officer stating the facts he observed and the people he interviewed.

A Juvenile Petition contains the offenses you are being charged with and indicates if your fingerprints were taken, if you were arrested and if the criminal laboratory services were requested. If you are arrested, a police officer must contact one of your parents or your legal guardian and tell them where you are.

If you are an adult you will also receive a criminal complaint containing list of charges and the affidavit signed by the police officer stating the facts he observed and the people he interviewed.

If you receive a Criminal Summons you should contact Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.

ARD Information Sheet

Mature businessman sitting in cell

What is the ARD Program?

ARD stands for “Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition”. It is a probation program for first-time offenders, with very few exceptions. Probation can last from 6 months to 2 years. Upon the successful completion of ARD, this criminal case can be removed from your criminal record after two years.

If you are facing a first offense DUI charge in Pennsylvania you may be want to consider an alternative to the traditional criminal court case and that is the ARD program. ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. The ARD program was implemented by Pennsylvania to accelerate the court process in criminal cases such as first offense DUI’s that would not jeopardize the general public’s safety if the defendant were released back into society.

By admitting first time DUI offenders into the ARD program the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is able to avoid wasting scarce resources on lengthy court hearings and the defendant is able to have their DUI expunged from their criminal record two years after they are accepted into the ARD program. Only first time DUI offenders may be eligible for the ARD program. The district attorney makes the decision as to whether or not a defendant will be admitted into the ARD program. Just because you are facing a first offense DUI charge does not mean that you are automatically admitted into the ARD program.

How do I fill out this ARD packet and apply for the program?

1) Read pages 1 – 3. This is information for you regarding the program, costs, and the application process. YOU MUST READ PAGES 1, 2 AND 3 AND KEEP THEM.

2) Fill out Pages 4 – 6. This section requires personal information regarding you, your past criminal history (if any) and contact information.

3) Sign page 7, certifying that the information on pages 4, 5 and 6 is true.
4) Read and Sign the “Waiver of Speedy Trial” form. You cannot apply for ARD if you don’t sign this form.

5) Read and Sign the “Waiver of Arraignment” form. At arraignment, you would be read the charges against you, have a judge assigned to your case, and be assigned a pre-trial conference date. However, if you are accepted to ARD, you will receive the required information in the mail, and do not have to appear at arraignment.

What happens after I get my preliminary hearing court date?

If your attorney cannot get the DUI charges dismissed you should waive your preliminary hearing and arraignment by submitting your ARD application as soon as possible and within two weeks of your arraignment date. Usually five weeks after the preliminary hearing date you have an Arraignment which is also waived unless you receive notice from us that your ARD application has been denied.

A few weeks after the scheduled arraignment date, you will be sent a certified mailing advising of the back-up pre-trial conference date (usually six months after the arraignment date) and the name of the judge assigned to the case. The reason why the pre-trial conference date is set so far in the future is to allow sufficient time for the District Attorney’s office to review the ARD application. Generally, ARD hearings are scheduled anywhere from 3 to 6 months after the arraignment date. If the ARD hearing is not scheduled or if ARD is rejected, you must come to court for the Pre-Trial conference.

After you waive the arraignment date and you get a pre-trail date you should do all the following:

1. You also need to schedule a 30 minute CRN evaluation which costs $70.00. Please call Diagnostic Services at 610-891-4571.

2. Complete the required 8 of the 16 hours of community service by calling Mr. Walter Omar at 610-891-5317.

3. The on-line safe driving class can be obtained through safemotorist.com, and then clicking Pennsylvania as your choice of state. It is sponsored by the American Safety Council, and costs $19.95 which can be paid by credit card. If you do not want to do it on line you can schedule and complete safe driving classes by calling 610-237-8630.

4. Schedule an Alcohol Evaluation by calling by calling James Hanlon at 610-891-4571.

5. If you can afford to pay all the fines by the pretrial date you can make payment arrangements, on the day of pre-trail date.

6. Call Gregory J. Spadea, Esquire at 610-521-0604, if you have any questions.

What Do I Do If I Get a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in Pennsylvania?

Man with drink being handed car keys
If you are facing a first offense DUI charge in Pennsylvania you may be want to consider an alternative program to the traditional criminal court case and that is known as the ARD program. ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.

The ARD program was implemented by Pennsylvania to accelerate the court process in criminal cases such as first offense DUI’s that would not jeopardize the general public’s safety if the defendant were released back into society.

Pennsylvania saves time and court resources and the defendant can have their DUI expunged from their criminal record two years after they are accepted into the ARD program.  Please contact Spadea & Associates, LLC to assist you in getting the record expunged.

Only first time DUI offenders in Pennsylvania may be eligible for the ARD program. The district attorney makes the decision as to whether or not a defendant will be admitted into the ARD program. Just because you are facing a first offense DUI charge does not mean that you are automatically admitted into the ARD program.

The new penalties enacted in February 2004 fall into a new three tier punishment system for DUI’s throughout Pennsylvania.

Tier 1: Tier 1 is considered General Impairment. General impairment is meant to describe those with BAC levels between .08% and .099%, and no property damage resulting from the DUI offense.

1st Offense DUI: No loss of driving privileges, six months maximum of probation, fine of $300 dollars, attend and complete safe driving classes, complete a drug and  alcohol evaluation, complete a 30 minute CRN evaluation and  complete 8 to 16 hours of community service .

Tier 2: Tier 2 is considered a high rate of blood alcohol. This is for those with BAC levels between .10% and .159% (the BAC level must be measured within 2 hours of actually operating the vehicle), and those with resultant property damage or personal injury from the DUI offense. Even those with General Impairment BAC levels (less than .10%) can be placed in the Tier 2 category if there was property damage or personal injury.

1st Offense DUI: driver’s license suspended for 12 months (occupational license eligibility after 60 days), jail time from 48 hours to 6 months, fine between $500 – $5,000, attend and complete safe driving classes, complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, complete a 30 minute CRN evaluation, complete 16 to 32 hours of community service.

Tier 3: Tier 3 is reserved for the highest BAC level offenders. A Blood Alcohol Concentration of .16% or greater that is measured within 2 hours of operating a motor vehicle will land you in a Tier 3 status. Anyone who refuses to submit to a chemical test and have their BAC measured will be placed into Tier 3 status as well. In addition to a high BAC, any illegal drug will also land you in Tier 3 status.  Note if you have a prescription drug without a valid prescription it is considered an illegal drug.

If you are found guilty of first offense DUI you will have your  driver’s license suspended for 12 months (occupational license eligibility after 60 days), jail time between 72 hours and 6 months, fines between $1,000 – $5,000, attend and complete safe driving classes, complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, complete a 30 minute CRN evaluation and complete 32 to 64 hours of community service.

What happens after I get my preliminary hearing court date?

If your attorney cannot get the DUI charges dismissed you should waive your preliminary hearing and submit your ARD application as soon as possible and within three weeks of your arraignment date. Usually five weeks after the preliminary hearing date you have an Arraignment which is also waived unless you receive notice from us that your ARD application has been denied.

A few weeks after the scheduled arraignment date, you will be sent a certified mailing advising of the back-up pre-trial conference date (usually six months after the arraignment date) and the name of the judge assigned to the case.   The reason why the pre-trial conference date is set so far in the future is to allow sufficient time for the District Attorney’s office to review the ARD application.  Generally, ARD hearings are scheduled anywhere from 3 to 6 months after the arraignment date.  If the ARD hearing is not scheduled or if ARD is rejected, you must come to court for the Pre-Trial conference.

After you arraignment date if you do not receive a removal letter from the District Attorney,  you should try to complete 8 hours of community service as well as complete the drug and alcohol evaluation  and CRN evaluation, and safe driving course  prior to your ARD hearing date and pay all the fines if you can.  If you do receive a removal letter contact Spadea & Associates, LLC immediately.  If you cannot pay the total fines by the ARD hearing date you can get on a payment plan.

Occupational Drivers License Application Process in Pennsylvania

A form from the DMV suspending a driver's license.

Anyone arrested for drunk driving in Pennsylvania can expect to have their driver’s license suspended. Other serious traffic violations can also result in a suspension, but many drivers can avoid the worst consequences of an interruption in their driving privilege by applying for an Occupational Limited License (OLL) before or after their suspension has begun.

Not all drivers will qualify for an OLL. For example, if you have driven on an occupational license in the last five years, you are ineligible to apply for another one. Certain specified violations will also disqualify the driver from a conditional or limited license during a period of suspension. To understand your eligibility for an OLL during your suspension, discuss your situation with an experienced Pennsylvania traffic violations lawyer. Contact the law firm of Spadea & Associates, LLC, in Ridley Park for a free initial consultation about your specific situation.

Find Out if You Are Eligible for an Occupational Limited License

Working with Spadea & Associates, LLC on your drivers license suspension issues can offer many advantages. First of all, you can coordinate your defense on the criminal charge with your driver’s license protection strategy. If the offense charged against you is of a kind that will disqualify you from an occupational license, we might be able to find a way to negotiate a plea to a different charge that will protect your ability to drive.

Next, Spadea & Associates, LLC can give you a specific idea of what to expect at every stage of the process in terms of cost, timing and the critical details that can make or break an application for limited driving privileges. When you have an accurate understanding of your rights and the procedures involved in activating them, you will avoid mistakes and the waste of time or money involved with solutions that cannot work.

Many violations will disqualify the driver from an occupational limited license, and you should get a clear idea of your legal and practical options if you are charged with any of a number of disqualifying criminal or motor vehicle offenses, including:

  • DUI or refusal to submit to alcohol testing (both with certain exceptions)
  • Homicide by vehicle
  • Underage alcohol violations (with certain exceptions)
  • Unlawfully passing a school bus
  • Reckless driving
  • Fleeing a police officer
  • Driving on a suspended license (with certain exceptions)
  • Failing to maintain financial responsibility, or driving without insurance

CDL holders need to understand that there is no way to recover commercial driving privileges through the OLL process, but they can still apply for an occupational license to permit restricted operation of their own private vehicles.

Understanding the Occupational Limited License (OLL) Application Process

Applications for the OLL are made by certified mail to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in Harrisburg mail. To protect your interest in driving without interruption, you need to make your application on the Occupational License Petition form at least 20 days before your suspension is due to begin. The petition must be accompanied by an application fee and proof of insurance.

Assuming that the application is submitted in correct form by a driver eligible for an occupational license, PA Department of Transportation’s decision to grant or deny the OLL will be based on the applicant’s driving record and current violations. If granted, you will be notified that your current license will be valid for a limited period pending your surrender of the license and your receipt of the occupational license. You send your current license, once again by certified mail, within 15 days of receiving your notice of approval.

If your application has been denied, you have the right to an administrative appeal and a hearing. It can be difficult to win an appeal of an unfavorable decision on an occupational license petition, however, and you should seek legal advice before pursuing any appellate rights.

Contact Spadea & Associates in Ridley Park: 610-521-0604

To learn more about the eligibility standards and application process for occupational drivers licenses during a period of suspension in Pennsylvania, contact the law firm of Spadea & Associates in Ridley Park. To find out more about our firm and our approach to client service, visit our website at http://spadealawfirm.com.

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