Teen Attacker Charged as an Adult – Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Criminal Defense Laws

A Franklin, Pennsylvania, high school student went on a knife-wielding attack in April, leaving 21 students and one security guard badly injured. The attacker used two 8-inch knives to bludgeon and slash his way through the school, before police finally stopped and arrested the 16-year-old young man. He will be tried as an adult and likely spend the rest of his life inside the Pennsylvania criminal system.

The news of this bloody knife attack shook the entire Pittsburgh and State College areas, as well as the nation, with its brutality. The fact that the assailant will be tried as an adult once again brought national attention to the state’s penal code. The juvenile court system in Pennsylvania has not received much favorable press in the past, especially following allegations that two Luzerne County judges received million-dollar kickbacks for imposing harsh sentences on juvenile offenders.

Despite the debate, Pennsylvania laws are clear: this act of violence exceeds the state’s definition of a child’s “delinquent act.

According to Pennsylvania law, a “delinquent act” is defined as “an act designated a crime under the law of this Commonwealth…” The law specifically excludes the crime of murder:

“Any of the following prohibited conduct where the child was 15 years of age or older at the time of the alleged conduct and a deadly weapon…was used during the commission of the offense which, if committed by an adult, would be classified as: (C) Aggravated assault; and, (I) An attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit murder.”

The fact that the attack is considered more than merely delinquent allows the transfer of the case from juvenile court to criminal court.

According to the news article appearing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the 16-year-old in the knife attack has been charged with “four counts of attempted homicide, 21 counts of aggravated assault and one count of possessing a prohibited weapon on school property.”

The Mazza Law Group is here to assist in all matters involving juvenile criminal defense, including criminal charges made against a minor. If your child has been charged with a crime, whether it is relatively minor or more serious, make sure to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Teen Attacker Charged as an Adult – Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Criminal Defense Laws was last modified: May 5th, 2014 by William Arbuckle