How helpful is DNA evidence Juvenile Court in Philadelphia?
In Juvenile Criminal Court DNA evidence is not nearly as powerful as in adult court. In Juvenile Criminal Court, the juvenile defendant generally does not have a right to a jury trial. There are exceptions to this rule, when the juvenile is tried as an adult, but while in Juvenile Court, there is no right to a jury trial. Click here to learn more about our juvenile practice.
Knowing that no right to a jury trial exists, the DA’s office often refuses to withdraw prosecution because they rather the judge be forced to make the call. As a result, the pressure is totally on the judge to hear the evidence and make a decision.
Further, there is something called a deferred adjudication in the Juvenile Act. This function is rarely used outside of Philadelphia County. It means that a judge can find someone guilty but not enter the finding permanently, then continue the matter and give the child a bunch of assignments. If the kid comes back and completes everything and stays out of trouble, the judge can still throw out the case, so the kid has no record.
There are many reasons a judge would defer adjudication. Often times a deferred adjudication greatly helps a child, but sometimes the practice is unnecessary.
Hopefully DNA evidence will trump deferred adjudications in the future. Click here to learn about a recent decision.