The Pa Superior Court has decided the case of Commonwealth v. B.H, a minor No. 990 EDA 2015 (April 14, 2016), holding that it was improper for the Court to enter a finding-of-fact and deferred disposition in a juvenile case even where the parties consented to the adjudication and finding-of-fact with deferred disposition scheme.


On May 11, 2013, B.H., then 17 years of age, engaged in sexual intercourse with another minor without the victim’s consent. The Chester County Juvenile Probation Department filed a delinquency petition against B.H., charging him with two counts of rape, two counts of aggravated indecent assault, and two counts of indecent assault.

B.H., the Commonwealth, and the victim agreed to amend the petition in exchange for an adjudication on the amended charge of sexual assault with a finding of fact without an adjudication on the charge of rape. The agreement provided that all other charges enumerated would be withdrawn.

The terms of the agreement on the petition provided that B.H.’s disposition be “deferred” and B.H. agreed to participate in a GPS monitoring program and substance abuse rehabilitation and to abide by the terms and conditions of both programs. The agreement specifically left open the possibility that the finding of fact as to the rape charge could be converted into an adjudication if B.H. failed to comply with the terms of the agreement, at which time B.H. would be required to register as a sex offender. This agreement was accepted by the juvenile court, which proceeded to an oral colloquy of B.H., wherein B.H. stated that he understood the nature of the charges to which he made the admission and the terms of the agreement proffered by the Commonwealth.

B.H. did not do a stellar job of complying with the conditions of his supervision and, after a number of violations and detentions for having failed to comply with the agreement, the juvenile court finally determined that B.H. was in need of treatment, supervision, and rehabilitation under the Juvenile Act. Thus, the court adjudicated him delinquent on the rape charge and placed him in the Youth Services Agency (YSA) ACT camp residential program.

B.H. filed an appeal from this dispositional order.


Whether it was proper for the Juvenile Court to enter a finding-of-fact as to the charges enumerated in a delinquency petition and then defer disposition on those charges, pending the juvenile’s satisfaction of the requirements of that agreement?


The juvenile court committed a manifest abuse of discretion by accepting and implementing the instant agreement.


A petition alleging that a child is delinquent must be disposed of in accordance with the Juvenile Act. Dispositions which are not set forth in the Act are beyond the power of the juvenile court.

Although the agreement entered into in this case bears similarities to a consent decree, it is clear from the record that B.H. tendered an admission. Consent decrees must be entered into before an admission is made by the juvenile.

Under the Rules, once an admission is made, the juvenile court shall enter a finding by specifying which, if any, offenses, including grading and counts, alleged in the petition were committed by the juvenile. Thereafter, the juvenile court must determine if the juvenile is in need of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation. And, if the court determines that the juvenile is in need of treatment, the court shall enter an order adjudicating the juvenile delinquent and proceed in determining a proper disposition.

Neither the Rules nor the Juvenile Act permit the juvenile court to make a “finding-of-fact” with respect to any charges enumerated in a delinquency petition. Therefore, although the parties herein consented to the adjudication and finding-of-fact with deferred disposition scheme, such an agreement is not permitted under the Rules and was, therefore, invalid.

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