Legal Question in Criminal Law in Pennsylvania

My 13yr old son was on probation and violated it.needless to say he spent 3 week in county before he got transferred to george jr. rep.he has incured over 800.00 in fines and cost which i being his parent have to unemployed and on welfare and cant pay.also his probation officer and the court sent him to this rehab/boarding school.we have to -pay for every day he was held in mont co juvenile and for his 4 months at george jr.can i petition the court to lower cost or wave them.his po knows my situation and did intentionally knowing we cant pay and my son wont ever be able to get off probation until all fines are paid.what can i do?

Asked on 3/26/16, 2:10 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

ANDREA G. TILLIS Law Offices of Andrea G. Tillis

Thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear of the unfortunate circumstances you are facing. Generally, a PO can only make recommendations to the Court and does not have the power or authority to sign any Order regarding fines, penalties, or anything else related to the juvenile's case. Only the Judge has the power to sign an Order relating to any case involving a juvenile, including the imposition of fines, costs, and restitution if the case calls for it. The PO would then have the responsibility to see that the juvenile is acting in accordance with the Judge's Order. I am surprised that the Judge imposed the burden of payment on you. Normally in juvenile cases, the Judge will place the burden of payment on the juvenile in order to teach the juvenile that there will always be consequences resulting from engaging in acts that the law expressly prohibits. If a juvenile is too young to work and has no money of his own, the Judge will make other arrangements for the juvenile to "work" off the fines, costs, and other penalties associated with his case. The Judge will also consider making some type of arrangement whereby he will Order the juvenile to participate in Community Service to "pay off" these costs and penalties.

Sometimes the Judge will sign an Order whereby the juvenile is Ordered to do Community Service for several hundred hours in order to work off the fines and penalties. This is done even where the juvenile is still in school. The Judge may Order the juvenile to do Community Service after 3:00 PM every day, or from whatever time he is dismissed from school each day until 6:00 PM and all day during the juvenile's summer vacation from school. The juvenile will be "working" at doing Community Service full time in the summer months while all of his friends are enjoying their summer vacation away from school. In this way, the Judge teaches the juvenile (and the juvenile learns 'first hand') that he will always have to pay the consequences for his acts and, hopefully, will think twice before he engages in any act which is punishable under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. If the burden of payment of these costs is placed on the juvenile's parents, the juvenile will not have paid any consequences for his actions and he may or may not take his wrongdoing seriously when he sees that someone else is paying for his wrongdoing. By imposing this responsibility on the juvenile and not on his parents, the juvenile will realize that he is paying the consequences of his actions and, hopefully, will start going down the right path.

The PO does not have the authority to order your son to perform Community Service. Therefore, you should make an appointment to speak to the Assistant District Attorney who was assigned to prosecute the case against your son. If you cannot afford a private Attorney to help you get this accomplish , you should consider going to the Legal Aid Society and have an Attorney from that office help you get the Judge to sign an Order absolving you from any liability for payment of any of the fines related to your son's case and Order your son to "work" off the fines.

Best of luck,


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Answered on 3/26/16, 4:40 pm

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