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Most juveniles enter the juvenile justice system at the intake level. Juveniles alleged to have committed a criminal offense are required to appear with their parents for an intake conference at the Juvenile Probation Department. Juveniles who have committed a serious crime requiring detention are sent directly to the Youth Center or a shelter facility based on the completion of the Pennsylvania Detention Risk Assessment Initiative (PaDRAI). The intake officers decide which cases are referred to Court for a formal hearing and which cases can be handled informally utilizing a trauma screen and other assessment tools.
The decision making process at the intake level are based on:
- seriousness of the charge
- prior police contacts
- recommendation of the police
- school adjustment
- community involvement
- family situation
- mental health issues
For those cases scheduled for intake conferences, a notice will be sent to the child and his/her parent’s home notifying them of the date and time of the intake conference. The notice states that the parent is requested to bring the following items at the time of the hearing:
- Social Security cards for both parents and juvenile
- Payment in the amount of $140.00 for court costs
- Juvenile’s birth certificate
- Juvenile’s immunization records
At the time of the intake conference, an intake officer may recommend various dispositions, depending on the specific circumstances.
- A juvenile may be warned and reprimanded and no further action taken; or
- The case may be held open pending the successful adjustment of the juvenile for six to nine months; or
- The intake officer may recommend that the juvenile be placed on a Consent Decree. With a Consent Decree, the charges are held open for six to twelve months pending the successful adjustment of the juvenile. The Deputy Chief Juvenile Probation Officer and the Assistant District Attorney must approve all cases held open. The Judge must approve all Consent Decrees. The juvenile is then formally supervised by a juvenile probation officer; or
- The case may be referred directly to Juvenile Court for a formal hearing.
During an intake conference, the intake officer will determine the amount of restitution, community service, counseling, curfew and school attendance, as well as any other terms and conditions the intake officer believes to be appropriate. All parties sign a contract agreeing to the conditions. If all the conditions are met, a petition is never filed with the Juvenile Court. However, if the juvenile violates the contract of the Informal Adjustment or Consent Decree, the Informal Adjustment or Consent Decree may be revoked and the juvenile will be referred into Court for a formal hearing in front of the Judge.
The decision to have an attorney must be made by you and your child. We cannot advise you whether or not you need an attorney for your child. If you decide that you would like an attorney to represent your child during the intake conference or a formal Court hearing, but you cannot afford a private attorney please contact the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office at (610) 278-3295 for assistance. You can also click here to be directed to their webpage.