What Happens if You Steal a Car as a Minor?
It’s a serious matter to commit vehicle theft as a minor in Philadelphia. The legal process and consequences differ compared to how courts deal with adult theft of a vehicle. It’s important to understand this difference and how you can seek legal assistance if you get charged with vehicle theft.
Vehicle Theft by a Minor
When a minor steals a vehicle, they may not be charged as an adult. They aren’t going to end up in the adult system if they are under the age of 15. They also won’t go through this system if they are 15 years and older and haven’t been adjudicated for robbery of a motor vehicle and didn’t use a deadly weapon during the robbery. It may be considered a delinquent act and they will have to go through juvenile court proceedings. This designation is used in matters that would be considered a crime if an adult committed the same act. The only difference in outcome is that the minor would be adjudicated delinquent instead of convicted of a crime.
Juvenile Court Proceedings
First, an attorney or probation officer would have to file a delinquency petition with the court. This needs to state in clear terms the charges against you as well as detailed information about this act or incident. It should state whether you need rehabilitation, supervision, or treatment.
While this isn’t all that common, it is possible to avoid the court process. A probation officer or some other court officer can determine if it’s best that you have an informal adjustment of charges. If you comply with any terms you’re given during this time (which usually is around six months), the petition and charge can be withdrawn, there won’t be a finding of guilt, and you would have no juvenile record of this charge.
It’s possible to have your court process suspended if both parties agree to a consent decree. This is an agreement that’s made by all parties regarding the supervision of the minor child in their own home. They will need to follow specific conditions that the probation officer gives them. You can only get a consent decree if you’ve been adjudicated delinquent. They can expunge the adjudication after you’ve completed the conditions within the set amount of time.
The adjudicatory hearing is similar to a trial and it’s held to inspect evidence regarding whether or not you committed the offense that’s within your charge. The judge listens to evidence from witnesses who are on both sides. At this point, they’ll decide if the prosecution has proven that you committed the act(s). If they decide to adjudicate your delinquency, they’ll also decide at this time if you require rehabilitation, supervision, or treatment. If you are given an adjudicatory hearing and are found delinquent, you may be moved ahead to a disposition hearing for discussion of what type of rehabilitation, supervision, or treatment is best for your situation. The court reviews this disposition at least every six months.
Get Legal Assistance for Vehicle Theft by a Minor
Vehicle theft by a minor can be a complicated case. You would do well to seek the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia to assist you with your case. Contact Brennan Law Offices today to talk to one of the best criminal lawyers in Philadelphia.