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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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DuPage County criminal defense attorney juvenile theft

Being arrested and charged with a crime can be a frightening experience for anyone, but it can be especially worrisome for minors. Children who are still maturing may make mistakes without realizing the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, juvenile offenses can impact a child’s future, affecting his or her ability to find a job or pursue education. Juvenile theft is one of the most common charges that minors may face, and parents will want to understand the procedures that will be followed in juvenile courts and the potential consequences their child may face.

Juvenile Court Cases Involving Theft

Minors may be charged with multiple different types of theft. Charges related to shoplifting or retail theft are among the most common, but children may also be arrested on suspicion of offenses such as motor vehicle theft or theft of property. The severity of the charges will depend on the value of the property stolen. For example, retail theft of items valued at $300 or less is a Class A misdemeanor, but retail theft of property worth more than $300 is a Class 3 felony.

When minors are arrested on suspicion of theft, they will be taken into police custody. In some cases, officers will choose to release a child without charging him or her with a crime, or they may give a child a “station adjustment” in which he or she is released to the parent or guardian without being formally charged with a crime as long as he or she meets certain conditions, such as performing community service.

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DuPage County juvenile defense attorneyThe first juvenile court in the United States was created more than 100 years ago with the idea that minors had the ability to reform their behavior as they matured. However, even with a complete juvenile justice system in place, minors are still being tried and sentenced as adults at an alarming rate. It has been proven that juveniles do not have the same capacity to make good decisions or control their impulses as adults. They are also more susceptible to peer pressure. All of these areas in which minors lack maturity have been proven to contribute to the likelihood of a juvenile committing a crime. In the state of Illinois, any person who is under the age of 18 is considered a minor, though many juveniles can and are still transferred to the adult court system. When a transfer is requested, there are a number of factors that the judge will consider, including:

The Age of the Minor

One of the first factors a judge will look at when deciding if a juvenile should be tried as an adult is the age of the minor. In Illinois, any minor who is under the age of 16 is referred to juvenile court first. Age is a big factor in determining whether or not a juvenile is transferred to adult court, because it can also be a good indicator of whether or not the child will benefit from juvenile court.

The Minor’s History

Next, the judge will consider the minor’s history and background. There are a number of things that could influence a juvenile’s decision to commit a crime. The judge will examine the child’s previous criminal history, any past delinquent behavior, the child’s history with abuse or neglect, and the child’s physical and mental health history.

The Nature of the Offense

The judge will also look at the specific situation in which the alleged crime occurred. Specifically, they will look for evidence that suggests that the crime was done in a premeditated or aggressive manner, whether the minor possessed a deadly weapon during the offense, and whether or not anyone was harmed because of the crime.

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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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Wheaton juvenile criminal defense attorney, your child is arrestedCriminal charges and arrests can unnerving for both the individuals involved and their families. However, when a child faces criminal trouble, the situation is often even more frightening. When a child is dealing with criminal charges, even if he or she is in juvenile court, those charges are just as serious as adult criminal charges.

Your Child’s Rights

When arrested, any person under the age of 18 has the same Constitutional rights as an adult. This includes the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer. Often, people make the mistake of believing that a case involving a minor is not as serious, or it will go better if the child speaks with law enforcement. However, it critical that any individual who is being accused or charged with criminal conduct protect his or her rights and contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

A juvenile criminal case can still end with the child being locked up. It can also end up getting DCFS involved with your family. 

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