What happens in Juvenile Court?

Juvenile Court is certainly not something a parent ever hopes to see their child involved with. But when it happens, it is important to have a juvenile lawyer in Lancaster PA who can guide you through the process and advocate on your child’s behalf.

There are two parts to a Juvenile proceeding: Adjudication and Disposition.


First, unless the juvenile chooses to admit to the allegations, a juvenile accused of a delinquent act will have an Adjudication Hearing. An Adjudication Hearing is the Juvenile Court version of a trial. At this hearing, the Court must determine whether a Juvenile has committed a delinquent act (Juvenile version of a crime), and whether the Juvenile is in need of treatment.

The Adjudication Hearing consists of three distinct phases. First, the Court may hold a hearing where evidence is presented regarding the Commonwealth’s allegations against the Juvenile. Second, the Court must rule on the evidence, stating with particularity the gradings (i.e., felony, misdemeanor) of each count and whether the Commonwealth has proven those allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, after ruling on the evidence, the Court must determine whether the Juvenile is in need of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation.

All juveniles are entitled to a juvenile defense attorney in Lancaster, PA to represent them and their interests at all stages of any proceeding. It is the attorney’s responsibility to serve as an advocate for the lawful objectives of the client, as determined by the client. The Commonwealth is usually represented by an Assistant District Attorney whose primary duty is to seek justice without losing sight of the philosophy and purpose of the Juvenile Court. That philosophy and purpose is to provide for children committing delinquent acts programs of supervision, care, and rehabilitation so that these children may develop into responsible and productive members of the community.


If the Court adjudicates the Juvenile a delinquent child, the Court will move on to the second part of a Juvenile proceeding, the Disposition Hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to determine how to best address a Juvenile who has been found in need of treatment, supervision or rehabilitation.

It is important that a child facing disposition have a juvenile lawyer in Lancaster, PA to represent him/her at this most-critical stage. The disposition hearing should always consider the child’s best interest and his/her attorney should focus on ensuring a fair resolution. A juvenile defense attorney may introduce evidence on the child’s behalf while challenging the evidence and opinions of the Commonwealth through an effective cross-examination.

Disposition may include placement at the Youth Intervention Center, probation under the supervision of the Lancaster County Office of Juvenile Probation and Parole or mandatory treatment in a facility specializing in the issue that brought the child before the Court. Having a juvenile lawyer in Lancaster, PA who is familiar with the myriad of options and creative alternative dispositions may allow a child to avoid placement when appropriate.

If your child is facing Juvenile Court, make sure you have an experienced juvenile defense attorney by your side. Call our team at McMahon & Winters Law Firm for experienced, aggressive representation in Juvenile Court.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER – The information contained in this article is for general guidance on the subject matter only. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. Given the changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, and the inherent hazards of electronic communication, there may be delays, omissions or inaccuracies in information in this article. Accordingly, the information in this article is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not herein engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice and services. As such, it should NOT be used as a substitute for consultation with a McMahon & Winters Law Firm attorney. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should always consult with a McMahon & Winters Law Firm attorney.