When Are Juveniles Tried in Adult Criminal Courts in Illinois?
Generally, children under the age of 18 are not considered adults. However, under Illinois law, some juvenile defendants can be tried as an adult and given adult penalties if convicted. Illinois has recently made some changes in the way cases involving defendants 17 and younger will be transferred to adult court.
Changes in the Law Effective January 1, 2016
After January 1, 2016, any child aged sixteen and older, who commits certain serious felonies, will automatically be tried in adult court. If the child is under age 16, then prosecutors will still be able to ask a judge to transfer the case to adult court. However, the transfer will not be automatic and the child’s attorney will be able to argue against the transfer to adult court.
The crimes for which juveniles will automatically be tried as adults when 16 or 17 years old include:
- Sexual Assault; and
- Aggravated Battery (if the child is the one firing the gun).
What Factors Are Considered When Deciding to Transfer a Case to Adult Court?
Even in cases that are not automatically transferred to adult court, prosecutors can ask a judge to approve the transfer of a case. Judges must consider several different factors before making a ruling. These factors include:
- Mental capacity;
- Nature of the crime; and
- Background of the defendant.
Both the prosecution and the defense have an opportunity to make their arguments and present evidence to a judge before a decision is reached.
What Does it Mean to be Tried as an Adult?
Typically, criminal cases involving children under the age of 18 are handled as part of the juvenile justice system. The focus of the system is mostly on rehabilitation. Judges have a lot of flexibility in sentencing and many juveniles only spend very little time behind bars, if any, for minor crimes.
When a juvenile is tried as an adult the case is heard in the local county courthouse. The trial follows the standard adult criminal procedure rules. If a defendant is convicted, then he or she will be sentenced as if he or she were an adult. This includes the use of mandatory minimum sentences.
If your child has been charged with a crime, you need to speak with an aggressive DuPage County criminal defense lawyer immediately. Do not talk to anyone about the case until you speak to a lawyer. Call Davi Law Group, LLC today to schedule a consultation at 630-580-6373.