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Tag Archives: Illinois juvenile law

DuPage County criminal defense attorney juvenile offense

If you are a minor who has been arrested and charged with a crime or you are the parent of a juvenile offender, you may be unsure of what to expect. You may have heard that children can sometimes be treated the same as adults in an Illinois criminal case but do not know the circumstances under which this can occur. Anyone under the age of 18 is a minor in Illinois; however, there are situations in which a minor may be tried and sentenced as if he or she was an adult. The alleged offense, the offender’s age and background, and other factors can influence where a juvenile case is heard.

Factors Considered by Illinois Judges in Juvenile Criminal Cases

Illinois judges have discretion when it comes to juvenile criminal cases. When determining whether to send a minor to juvenile court or adult court, the judge will consider:

  • The alleged offender’s age – The older the juvenile offender is, the more likely he or she is to be tried as an adult.

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Wheaton juvenile reform defense attorneyWe all remember when we were teenagers, and in many cases, we did not make the best decisions, which may have gotten us into trouble. As a parent, you can relate to the feeling of being a juvenile, but hearing that your child has run into trouble with the law can be especially concerning. Unfortunately, teens getting into legal trouble is not uncommon. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), more than 728,000 juveniles were arrested for various crimes in 2018. One of the goals of the juvenile justice system is to help kids get on the right path in life, rather than punishing them for making mistakes. With this in mind, youth diversion programs have become a popular part of juvenile sentencing throughout Illinois and the United States.

What Are Youth Diversion Programs?

One of the main purposes of having a juvenile participate in a diversion program is to avoid putting him or her through the traditional criminal justice system for a minor offense. Youth diversion programs vary in how they operate and are structured, but the essential goal is to provide an intensive and holistic approach to address delinquent behavior. In many situations, the adolescent's family will be included in the diversion program to help encourage their child to reform. Typical services in youth diversion programs can include:

  • Screenings and assessments

  • Educational services

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Il defense lawyerAnyone under the age of 18 is a juvenile. When adolescents choose to break the law by participating in juvenile theft or other harmful behavior, we call this juvenile delinquency. In most cases, children who find themselves in trouble do not qualify for adult punishments, yet the consequences can have lasting effects. Currently, the United States faces an epidemic of juvenile delinquency. Crimes committed by one or more teens account for 20% of all criminal activity. This upward trend has experts searching for causes and the best methods of prevention.

The Expert Opinion

There is a constant debate as to what influences our behavior most, is it the genes we inherit from our family or our surroundings. Most experts agree that both play a pivotal role in our behavior choices. Children, teens, and young adults, however, are often more influenced by their surroundings. Adolescents make decisions directly relating to what is going on with their family members, friends, and their peers. These influencers are intensified by the accompaniment of a desire for material things, fashion trends, peer pressure, and financial lust, to name a few. Although any child can make a mistake that can result in legal consequences, the risk is higher when intensified by a background of:

  • Poverty;
  • Repeated exposure to violence;
  • Drugs;
  • Firearms;
  • Unstable family;
  • Family violence;
  • Delinquent peer groups; and
  • Media violence.

Suggested Preventative Measures

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DuPage County juvenile defense attorneyWhile state laws tend to dictate how juvenile and adult criminal cases are handled, there are some broad but universal views and beliefs within these two justice system types. It is by comparing the beliefs of each system that one begins to understand the distinct differences – including the impact that an adult case may have on a juvenile. Learn more about the differences between juvenile criminal cases and adult criminal cases, and discover how you can protect your teen from the potential consequences of an adult trial.

Rehabilitation

If there is any belief that distinguishes adult criminal cases from juvenile ones, it is that juveniles are developmentally different than adults. The perception that juveniles can be more easily rehabilitated than adults stems directly from this belief, and it can impact everything from sentencing to treatment options and release back into the community. For example, an alleged juvenile sex offender may be referred to a therapeutic program, but an alleged adult offender could be facing years of imprisonment and forced registration on the state’s sex offender site.

Public Access to Criminal Records

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Illinois juvenile defense lawyersNo matter how heinous their crimes might seem, juvenile offenders are, by all standards, children. They do not always understand the consequences of their actions, may struggle with impulse control, and have brains that are not yet fully developed. Yet, in Illinois, and in other states throughout the country, they are serving life sentences for crimes they allegedly committed.

A recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, in which it was deemed unconstitutional to incarcerate a minor for life without parole, gives these offenders the chance to appeal their former sentences. Unfortunately, there may be more who receive the exact same type of sentence in the very near future. If your child is being charged with a serious or violent crime, the following can help you better understand what they may be up against and how you can attempt to protect them from a life behind bars.

Children Serving Life Sentences

News sources indicate that some 80 children have been sentenced to life sentences without parole in the state of Illinois. After the 2012 Supreme Court ruling that deemed it unconstitutional to incarcerate a child for life, Illinois examined their own laws in 2014. Because of these two rulings, all 80 of the inmates were given the right to pursue resentencing for their crimes.

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