How does my child become involved with the Berks County Juvenile Probation Office?
If your child commits a misdemeanor or felony offense, and is between the ages of 10-17, your child will be referred to the Berks County Juvenile Probation Office by the arresting police department.
If the arresting police department determines your child is appropriate, based on the charges and prior arrest history, a referral to the Community Youth Aid Panel Program may occur.
If your child commits a summary offense, the Magisterial District Court Judge may order your child to perform community service in lieu of paying a fine. If this occurs, the Magisterial District Court Judge will refer your child to the Berks County Juvenile Probation Office to complete the ordered community service.
Why was my child placed in detention?
There are several factors that determine if your child will be placed in the Abraxas Academy. The serious nature of the charges is the biggest factor when your child is new to the system. The serious nature of the charges, current violations of probation, prior findings of guilt, current supervision status, history of failure to appear, and history of escape/runaway are all taken into consideration when determining whether detention is appropriate when your child is already under the supervision of the Berks County Juvenile Probation Office.
What are my child's rights once he/she is detained?
Your child must have a detention hearing within 72 hours of his/her admission to detention. During that hearing, a Hearing Master will decide if your child should remain in detention pending a further Court action. Should your child remain in detention, a full hearing before a Judge must be held within 10 days following the filing of a petition alleging delinquency.
Is my child entitled to legal counsel?
A public defender will be provided to your child at no cost. You do have the right to hire private counsel for your child.
How do I contact the Public Defender's Office?
You may contact the Public Defender's Office at (610) 478-6650. The Public Defender's Office is located at 633 Court Street, 12th Floor Courthouse, Reading, PA 19601.
Can my child take a tour of the Abraxas Academy?
No. Due to confidentiality issues, the Abraxas Academy does not offer tours.
Where can I park when coming to the Services Center?
The closest parking garages to the Berks County Services Center are the Reed and Court Street Garage, and the Poplar and Walnut Street Garage. Additional Information may be obtained at the Reading Parking Authority.
Are hearings open to the public?
Hearings are open to the public if the juvenile was 14 years of age or older at the time the offense occurred and the offense is a felony, or if the juvenile was 12 years of age or older at the time of the offense and the offense is one of the following: murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, arson, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, kidnapping, rape, robbery, robbery of a motor vehicle or attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above offenses. Hearings are closed for all other circumstances.
What is proper Courtroom attire for my child and myself?
You should dress for Court the way that you would for a job interview or any other event where you would want to be taken seriously and show your respect. Your clothes should be clean, neat, and free of rips or tears. Shoes must be worn at all times. Clothing and jewelry that include logos, slogans, or pictures of an obscene or derogatory nature to any group or individual, or that could be construed as such, are not acceptable. Remember you will be in a Courtroom with a Judge, attorneys, and other individuals who are responsible for the welfare of your child.
Do both parents need to attend the Court hearing?
Yes. Anyone receiving a subpoena is required to attend the Court hearing.
What are the costs involved with probation supervision?
All juveniles under supervision are required to pay a $60 - $120 service fee, depending on the case. Juveniles whose cases are scheduled for Court will be required to pay Court Costs. These costs vary from case to case. Depending upon the charge, juveniles may be required to pay fines. If there is money owed to victims, restitution will be required.
Parental responsibilities regarding the costs are limited to support if their child is placed in a Court Ordered placement, and parental liability if the judge invokes it.
Parental Liability - the Court can direct the parents to make payments to a victim up to $1,000 for injuries suffered by any one person, or $2,500 for multiple victims who suffered injuries.
More information on support for children in placement.
My child received a license suspension in Court. What do we do?
If your child already has a driver's license when the suspension occurs, turn the license in to the Berks County Juvenile Probation Office on the day of Court. Credit for the suspension will begin immediately.
If your child does not have a driver's license at the time of the suspension, your child will be required to fill out a DL16LC form provided by the Berks County Juvenile Probation Office. Commencement of the license suspension credit will begin on your child's 16th birthday, or if already 16 years of age, when the form is received by PennDOT.
Individuals who want to know the status of their driver or vehicle record may call:
In state (800) 932-4600, or out of state (717) 391-6190 between the hours of 7:00am and 9:00pm.
Are juvenile records expunged automatically?
No. A request can be filed by an attorney requesting that the case be expunged under certain circumstances:
- When a complaint is filed which is not substantiated or the petition filed is dismissed by the Court.
- Six months have elapsed since the final discharge of a person from supervision under a Consent Decree.
- Five years have elapsed since the final discharge of the person from commitment, placement, probation or any other disposition; and since such discharge, the person has not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, or adjudicated delinquent.
- The individual is 18 years of age, the District Attorney consents to the expungement and a Court orders the expungement after considering the following: the type of offense; the individual's age, history of employment, criminal activity and drug or alcohol problems; adverse consequences that the individual may suffer if the records are not expunged; and whether retention of the record is required for purposes of protection of public safety.
For additional questions regarding expungment of juvenile records, please contact Assistant Chief Bill Keim at (610) 478-3200.