When Can a Teen be Charged as an Adult in Pennsylvania?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 13, 2023 | 0 Comments

Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania teenager, Nehemiah Gonzalez, was charged as an adult after opening fire on someone during a drug deal turned robbery. Allegedly, Gonzalez, 17 years old, and the victim met at the park for a pre-planned drug deal when Gonzalez pointed a gun at the victim's head with the supposed intention of robbing him. The victim tried to drive away, so Gonzalez opened fire on him. While the victim was not hit, a stray bullet did hit a nearby house.

In Pennsylvania, juvenile courts have the power to transfer certain cases into the adult court system. If you or someone you love is a minor that's been charged as an adult, LLF Law Firm and our Criminal Defense Team can help. Call today.

Pennsylvania Juvenile Court to Adult Court

There are a few different ways a juvenile court can send transfer a case up to the adult court system, including requesting either a discretional, presumptive, or statutory waiver.

Discretional Waiver

In Pennsylvania, if a child is at least 14 years old and is accused of a felony, the juvenile court can move the case to the adult court system if they think it will better protect the public interest. But there are specific factors the court must consider making this decision, including:

  • Does the minor show a willingness for treatment, supervision, and rehabilitation?
  • Has the prosecution shown evidence that proves the public interest would be better served if the transfer did happen, and did the child disagree with the idea of being supervised, treated, and rehabilitated?

Presumptive Waiver

For this waiver to take effect, the minor must be at least 14 years old and used a deadly weapon while committing the felony, or if they are 15 years old or older and committed any serious offense (like rape or assault), then there is a presumption that public interest would be better served by transferring the case.

Statutory Exclusion

Under Pennsylvania law, there are certain situations where a minor will always be charged as an adult, including cases where the minor committed murder, voluntary manslaughter, or used a deadly weapon to commit the crime.

How an Experienced Criminal Attorney Can Help

In this case, though, if Gonzalez had been arrested for simply purchasing drugs, it would most likely have been considered a misdemeanor – which is unlikely to be transferred to adult court. However, he did pull a weapon on the victim and opened fire, with a stray bullet hitting an unsuspecting citizen's home, prompting the prosecution to request a presumptive waiver. Unfortunately, this means that Gonzalez could be subject to much more substantial punishments than he would have been in juvenile court.

Therefore, it is so important to reach out to a qualified criminal attorney the moment you are arrested. LLF Law Firm and our Criminal Defense Team have spent years helping defendants gather evidence and witnesses to best present their arguments. We understand how difficult and overwhelming these proceedings can be and will work tirelessly to ensure you the best possible outcome for your case.

Juveniles deserve every chance at rehabilitating from their mistakes. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.