What To Do If Your Child Is Accused of Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania
If your child was accused of a sex crime, you may have many concerns, such as, will they be charged as an adult, will your child be required to register as a sex offender, will your child be facing time spent incarcerated? Juvenile sex cases can be emotionally charged, especially when the family knows the alleged victim.
Speak to an attorney right away if your child has been accused of a sex crime, because the initial stages of a police investigation are often the most crucial. Call our experienced defense lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 to learn about how we defend juvenile sex crimes.
Know Your Rights
Finding out your loved one has been accused of a sex offense can be scary. If your child was accused of a sex crime, you probably have many thoughts running through your head—whether they may be facing a charge that could follow them into adulthood. Police may have asked if they will appear at the police station for an interview. Speak to a lawyer before you agree to an interview about the best course of action in your case.
If your child is arrested and booked into a juvenile detention center, you must be promptly notified. The child can be held for up to 72 hours and during that time there must be a hearing regarding whether or not there is probable cause a crime was committed and whether it is safe for the juvenile to be released into the community or into the care of parent or guardian. Special conditions may be imposed by the hearing officer such as a curfew or electronic monitoring.
Juvenile Transfer Hearings in PA
If your child is accused of a particularly serious offense such as rape, the case may be transferred to adult court. Juvenile transfer hearings are based on several factors such as:
- The age of the defendant at the time the offense was committed
- Whether or not the offense was of a violent nature, such as if weapons were used
- The offender’s mental and emotional status at the time the offense was committed
- The offender’s mental capacity to understand the nature of the offense and the proceedings against them
- Whether there is treatment available through the juvenile court system that could prevent the commission of similar offenses
Keeping a case in juvenile court can help prevent your child from having to serve a lengthy prison sentence with adult offenders. A juvenile transfer hearing occurs in the pre-trial stage after the probable cause hearing and before a trial to determine guilt or innocence.
Understand Potential Penalties
If your child was charged as a juvenile, the potential penalties he or she may be facing are less than what they might face in the adult court system. Juvenile courts focus more on treatment than on punishment, but your child may still be facing time spent incarcerated, fines, and community service. If charged as an adult for a serious very offense such as rape, your child may be facing a term of years in a state correctional facility.
Conviction for a sex offense also carries a requirement to register as a sex offender. If placed on the registry, a sex offender must notify their local law enforcement agency any time they change their employment, contact information, or address.
If Your Child is a Student
If your child was a student at the time the juvenile sex crime allegedly occurred, the allegation could affect their standing in the institution, even if they are not proven guilty of the offense. If the alleged victim is a student at the same school, your child may be ordered not to attend the same classes or events and to stay a certain distance away from the student who has accused them.
Have an attorney present at every stage of the proceeding. Your child may be asked to participate in an administrative hearing that can result in expulsion from the school if the hearing examiner finds victim testimony credible. An attorney may be able to negotiate for an alternative solution, such as voluntary withdrawal for a semester or a year pending the outcome of the criminal case, since an expulsion for sexual misconduct can look worse on a student’s record than voluntary withdrawal.
Consult an Experienced Defense Attorney
Our defense lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC are ready to help if your child has been accused of a sex crime. It is important to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible, because law enforcement may encourage you to give up important rights to try to build a case against your child, even if they are innocent. We may be able to find problems with the state’s case that could lead to a dismissal, a not guilty verdict, or a reduction of the charges. Contact us online or call (412) 281-2146 to schedule a consultation.