A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

Supreme Court rules on requirements for juvenile adjudications

A posting was put out about the recent Supreme Court case, In The interest of M.W. dealing with how juvenile adjudications are to be determined.  However a vital aspect of the decision was not highlighted.  Madame Justice Todd writing for the majority, held that the Juvenile Act requires a juvenile court to find both (1) that the juvenile has committed a delinquent act; and (2) that the juvenile is in need of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation, before the juvenile court may enter an adjudication of delinquency.

Just as importantly, the court remanded the matter for a determination of whether M.W. was in need of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation, and if not the judge should “dismiss the proceeding, terminate jurisdiction, and discharge M.W.”  Why is this important?  Because at the time of the original delinquency determination hearing M.W. had just been adjudicated delinquent on another petition, by another judge and committed to St. Gabriel’s Hall.  Thus the holding reaffirms the independence, authority, and discretion that a judge has to not adjudicate a child delinquent (as long as there are sufficient valid reasons on the record for such a finding) despite another judge’s finding to the contrary.



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