Philadelphia criminal appeals lawyer Lloyd Long discusses details surrounding the Pennsylvania’s Superior Court’s decision in the B.H. case. B.H. was adjudicated delinquent for sexual assault and rape.

Originally, he agreed to admit to the charge of sexual assault and be adjudicated; part of the agreement was that there would be a finding of fact without adjudication on the rape charge. If he did not comply with terms of the imposed programs, he might later be adjudicated on the rape charge based on the finding of fact.

After a number of probation violations, B.H. was eventually adjudicated delinquent on the rape charge. He appealed.

The Superior Court reversed. The Juvenile Act only permits dispositions that are set forth in the Act itself. Adjudication on one charge and a finding of fact leaving open a possibility of subsequent adjudication on another is not such a disposition.

After the first admission, the juvenile court was required to make a finding specifying which counts were committed; it was not permitted to let itself make that determination later on additional charges based on B.H.’s success in certain programs. Even though the parties originally agreed to the above arrangement, the Juvenile Act did not contemplate such a disposition. The lower court’s implementation of the arrangement was, therefore, a manifest abuse of discretion.

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