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Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer > > Juvenile Crimes > A Criminal Defense Lawyer Is Your Best Protection Against Direct File Of Juvenile Cases

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Is Your Best Protection Against Direct File Of Juvenile Cases


Adults often try to scare teenagers out of illegal activities such as stealing and illegal drug use by arguing that a juvenile case will ruin a person’s entire future.  The juvenile court system is set up to prevent this from happening.  If you get adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court, the record of this incident does not stay on your record permanently.  If you get convicted in adult criminal court, however, the conviction stays on your record permanently, and the only way to make it go away is to go through the lengthy process of expungement.  This applies whether you were an adult at the time of your arrest or whether you were a minor charged as an adult.  Minors who get charged and convicted as adults can face the same consequences as adults accused of the same offenses; this can include sentences in state or federal prison and being held in jail until trial or until posting bond.  All defendants have the right to representation by defense lawyers, and it is always in your interest to hire a criminal defense lawyer, no matter your age.  If you are a teenager being accused of a crime for which you could be charged as an adult, contact a Pittsburgh juvenile offenses lawyer.

Why Do So Many Teens Get Charges as Adults?

What normally happens is that, when someone under the age of 18 is accused of a crime, he or she goes to juvenile court.  The juvenile court judge can impose consequences such as probation or juvenile detention, but there are no jury trials and no permanent records of criminal convictions for juveniles.  Juvenile court judges have the option to refer juvenile cases to adult criminal court if the teen is above a certain age and has had previous interactions with the juvenile justice system.

For certain offenses, mostly the ones that involve weapons or physical violence, Pennsylvania law instructs prosecutors to direct file the case with the adult court, instead of waiting for a decision from a juvenile court judge.  Pennsylvania’s direct file law went into effect in 1995, around the same time that many other states enacted similar laws.

In the News

Some Pennsylvania lawmakers would like to do away with direct file, as would almost all young adults who, as teenagers, suffered disproportionate punishments.  For example, Andre Simms, now 26, served eight years in prison for attempted murder; he was 17 at the time of his arrest.  He spent part of that time in solitary confinement.  David Harrington was held in jail for eight months while awaiting trial on suspicion of armed robbery; he was 16 at the time of his arrest. Once the judge transferred his case back to juvenile court, the court dismissed the charges.  Senators Bartolotta, Hughes, and Williams introduced a bipartisan bill to eliminate direct file earlier this year, but the bill did not pass.

Contact Gary E. Gerson About Drug Crimes

A criminal defense lawyer can represent you in criminal court if you are being accused of an offense that qualifies for direct file.  Contact the law offices of Gary E. Gerson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania about your case.




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