Once you turn 18 years old, you are no longer a juvenile. If you commit a crime, no matter how small it may seem, you will face charges in the Pennsylvania adult court system. This is very different than the juvenile system. Not only will you have to see a judge as an adult, but you face adult penalties and consequences.
It is easy to forget that high school shenanigans are behind you now that you are in college, but do not make a mistake that could end in criminal charges. In high school, you may face suspension for getting into a fight with someone, but in college, you will likely face an arrest and conviction for assault. This is a huge difference and one that you need to understand.
According to PBS, there are distinguishing differences between the juvenile and adult court systems. In the juvenile system, the focus is on rehabilitation and helping you to learn to make better decisions. In the adult system, the focus is on punishment and making you pay for your actions. This affects many aspects of what you will expect from each system. For example, in a juvenile case, you may have to go to counseling for a year, whereas in the adult system, you go to prison for a year.
Another key difference is that the state seals juvenile records. Someone cannot request your juvenile records and see your arrests and convictions. They could request your adult record, though, because the state does not seal them. This means your adult criminal record could impact your future employment, housing and any other situation where a criminal background check may apply.
It is clear that once you become an adult, your actions require you to be more responsible. Getting into trouble becomes a significant issue that could haunt you for the rest of your life. This information is for education and is not legal advice.