Glossary of Terms

This glossary is provided so that people attending Juvenile Court hearings may have a better understanding of the language and proceedings they will hear and see. Should additional questions arise, please ask the Probation Officer or Victim Advocate assigned to your case for further information.

View items in the glossary:

302 Commitment

This mental health proceeding forces an evaluation, which may place an individual in the hospital involuntarily for mental health observation and treatment. A Juvenile Court Judge instead of a Mental Health Officer may hear a “302” hearing when certain conditions apply.

Act 33

A case wherein a defendant who is a juvenile by age, is charged as an adult because the crime alleged meets certain criteria. Beginning in 1996, certain crimes such as aggravated assault or robbery with a deadly weapon committed by a juvenile 15 years of age or older were removed from the jurisdiction of Juvenile Court. Act 33 established that these and certain other cases are directly filed in the Adult Criminal Division.


The following designated felonies where the child was 15 or older at the time of the alleged conduct and a “deadly weapon” was used during the commission of the crime are:                                          

FelonyFelony Code
A. RapePACC 3121
C. Aggravated AssaultPACC 2702 (a)(1) / PACC 2702 (a)(2)                     
D. RobberyPACC 3701(a)(1)(i) / PACC 3701(a)(1)(ii) / PACC 3701(a)(1)(iii)
E. Motor VehiclePACC 3702
F. Aggravated Indecent AssaultPACC 3125
G. KidnappingPACC 2901
H. Voluntary ManslaughterPACC 2503
I. An attempt, Conspiracy, or Solicitation to commit MurderPACC 901 / PACC 902 / PACC 903

Tier Two Exclusions

The following designated felonies, where the child was 15 or older at the time of the alleged conduct and has previously been adjudicated delinquent on the basis of any of these felonies:

FelonyFelony Code
A. RapePACC 3121
C. RobberyPACC 3701(a)(1)(i) / PACC 3701(a)(1)(ii) / PACC 3701(a)(1)(iii)
D. Robbery of a Motor VehiclePACC 3702
E. Aggravated Indecent AssaultPACC 3125
F. KidnappingPACC 2901
G. Voluntary ManslaughterPACC 2503
H. An attempt, Conspiracy, or Solicitation to commit MurderPACC 901 / PACC 902 / PACC 903

Deadly Weapon

"Deadly weapon" is defined under PACC 2301 as: Any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or serious bodily injury, or any other device or instrumentality which, in the manner in which it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.

Act 53

Act 53 is the process by which a parent or guardian can petition the Court to declare their child to be in need of involuntary drug and/or alcohol treatment services.


This is the portion of the hearing wherein the judge or Hearing Officer determines if the juvenile committed the crime or any portion of the crime with which he or she is charged.


Upon release from residential placement, a period of strict supervision to closely monitor the juvenile’s adjustment back into the community.

Balanced & Restorative Justice

Balanced and Restorative Justice is the law in Pennsylvania. This law maintains that the Court process must include significant input from the victim at every level of the process, and takes into account public safety, offender accountability, and victim restoration.


This is the process by which a juvenile can be charged as an adult by transferring prosecution of an offense from Juvenile Court to Criminal Court.

Clerk of Courts

Department within the Courts that receives and documents all restitution payments. This department is also responsible for collecting and making sure victims receive all Court ordered monies.


A Court ordered placement in either a residential or day treatment facility.

LEADER Program

This is a community-based program that serves as an alternative to placement for male and female juvenile offenders between the ages of 10 and 18. All LEADER youth are supervised, monitored, and held accountable while in the program.

Community Service

Community Service is the performance of unpaid work, usually in a social service setting, aimed specifically at restoring the victim and community for the harm caused by a juvenile’s delinquent activity.

Consent Decree

Consent Decree is the order of the Court which suspends the delinquent proceedings against the juvenile and places youth under voluntary supervision in his or her own home, under terms and conditions negotiated with the probation department and agreed to by all parties affected.

Continued Hearing

A case that is postponed or rescheduled to another date.

Court Appointed Attorney

Court Appointed Attorney is an ethical conflict of interest exists for the Office of the Public Defender to represent a juvenile (such as when two or more juveniles are charged as co-defendants) the Judge will appoint additional defense attorney(s). These attorneys are called Conflict Attorneys because their appointment to the case resolves the conflict.

Court Clerk

The Court employee who is present during the Court proceedings whose purpose is to maintain the official papers and orders.

Children & Youth Services (CYS) Caseworker

Children and Youth Services is a County agency acting as an agent of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. A CYS caseworker is the agency representative involved in dependency cases that deal with alleged abuse and/or neglect of children, or children who are beyond their parent’s control.

Day Treatment Program

The program is a Court ordered placement into the community that provides rehabilitative treatment for juveniles during the day and evening hours.


This is the process by which a juvenile charged as an adult can be transferred from Criminal Court to Juvenile Court for prosecution of an offense.


Disposition is what the judge orders to happen to the juvenile at the end of the hearing.

District Attorney (DA)

The District Attorney is a lawyer who, as the prosecutor, represents the Commonwealth and speaks for the victim. A DA is assigned to most cases automatically.


Felony is a legal term used to define the most serious offenses.


The Judge determines adjudications of dependency and delinquency and determines dispositions.

Juvenile Act

A Juvenile Act is state legislation that dictates the rules and regulations of Juvenile Court


Also known as a “Hearing Officer”, a Juvenile Court Master is an attorney appointed by the Court who is authorized, under the Juvenile Act and Pennsylvania Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure, to conduct delinquency and dependency hearings. Master’s decisions can be appealed to a Juvenile Court Judge.

Merit Hearing

A Merit Hearing is a Court hearing where testimony is taken regarding charges against the juvenile.


A misdemeanor is a legal term used to define most offenses.

No Contact Order

A Court order which states that the juvenile is not permitted to have contact with a specific person(s). Contact is not permitted in person, by telephone, fax, email, letter, etc. Most of these orders state that neither the juvenile nor the juvenile’s family or friends be permitted to have any contact with the victim(s) and witnesses.

Non-Secure Placement

A residential facility, which provides treatment and rehabilitation while affording juveniles the opportunity to participate in community service projects, and activities on and off grounds.

Permission to Place

The Judge orders permission to investigate residential programs for the juvenile.


A petition is the official document, which contains the formal statement of charges against the juvenile.


Probation is when a juvenile defendant is found by the Court to be delinquent (guilty) of a crime, and is ordered to be under supervision of a Probation Officer. The conditions (rules) imposed by the Judge and probation department must be followed.

Probation Officer

Neutral Court staff officer who supervises a juvenile during his or her probationary period or other Court ordered supervision (such as Consent Decree, placement, day treatment, etc.) and who enforces the terms and conditions imposed by the Judge and the probation department.

Public Defender (PD)

A Public Defender is a lawyer who represents juvenile offenders who are unable to afford a private attorney.

Residential Treatment Facility (RTF)

These specialized facilities treat delinquent issues when a mental health diagnosis is also present.


A restitution is any money that a juvenile offender is ordered to pay to his or her victim(s). Restitution is frequently ordered to repay victims for any out of pocket losses that occurred solely as a result of the juvenile’s delinquent act(s).

Review Hearing

A review hearing is to review the status of a case.

The Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure (Pa.R.J.C.P)

It establishes uniform practice and procedure for courts exercising jurisdiction as provided in the Juvenile Act.

School Based Probation Officer

Probation Officer assigned to provide Court supervision to all juveniles active with the Court and attending a specific school.

Secure Placement

A residential facility which provides treatment and rehabilitation. Restrictions are imposed to monitor a juvenile's every action. Secure facilities are equipped with various devices, such as fences, locked exits, and entrances, to ensure that juveniles are unable to leave the facility.


Witnesses are asked to leave the courtroom while other(s) testify.

Side Bar

A side bar is a conversation at the Judge's bench that takes place during the hearing between only the Judge, the defense attorney and the District Attorney. The Probation Officer is also expected to participate.

Status Offense

Behaviors which are not a summary, misdemeanor, or felony, and which are only misbehaviors if committed by juveniles. These offenses are usually handled by a District Justice or CYS but can be handled by Juvenile Court when certain conditions are present. These offenses include truancy, running away from home, underage drinking, curfew violations and the like.


A summary offense is usually of a minor nature, and normally carries a less serious penalty, such as a fine or community service. The District Justice usually handles summary offenses, but these can be handled by Juvenile Court when certain conditions are present. Additionally, the District Justice can refer the case to Juvenile Court if the youth fails to comply with the sentence.


A review hearing conducted by telephone when a juvenile is in residential placement.


The Court Staff member who is responsible for the orderly flow of cases through the Judge’s courtroom.

Victim Advocate

A victim advocate is a social service worker who supports and assists victims, witnesses and their families through the Court process by addressing questions and concerns, attending court with them and providing additional services, as needed.

Victim Compensation Fund

This is a state fund to assist victims who have sustained a financial loss as a direct result of a crime. A mandatory cost against the juvenile is imposed whenever a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent or receives a Consent Decree disposition.

Violation of Probation (VOP) or Violation of Conditions of Supervision

This is when a juvenile under court supervision breaks their rules.


A waiver is agreeing to give up certain rights.


A warrant is a Court Order authorizing arrest and secure detention of the juvenile.

Youth Development Center (YDC)

The center secures the residential facility operated by the state.