DuPage County Juvenile Crimes Lawyer
Glen Ellyn Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney
Many people wonder about how juvenile crime is prosecuted in the state of Illinois. Under Illinois law, defendants who are under 17 years of age who have committed a felony or misdemeanor crime are usually charged as juveniles. That means that they are tried in juvenile court and subject to juvenile corrections facilities, if necessary, rather than sending them through the adult court process and into adult jail or prison.
With the above said, it is important to understand that if your juvenile has committed a crime, it is not a given that they will be tried as a juvenile. Depending upon the crime in question as well as the individual’s criminal background, anyone over the age of 15 could potentially be charged as an adult for serious crimes like:
- Drug Possession
- Drug Distribution
- Gun Crimes
Because this possibility exists, it is important to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney when your juvenile has committed a crime. The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of George P. Kallas can help ensure that your child receives the quality representation that they deserve.
Juvenile Rights in Illinois
Both the Illinois Constitution and the U.S. Constitution grant juvenile defendants the same freedoms and protects as they do adults. That means that juveniles have the right to avoid self-incrimination as well as the right to not be subjected to unreasonable or unlawful search seizures. Additionally, juveniles have the right to have their legal guardian or an attorney present for all questioning – and can refuse to answer questions until these requests are satisfied. Note that this is true even if the juvenile in question is simply being questioned as a potential witness to a crime.
Parental Rights and Juvenile Law
Has your child been detained or arrested? If so, remember that you do have certain rights.
Here are the three most important:
- You have the right to be with your child while they are questioned.
- You have the right to know why the child was detained or arrested.
- You have the right to ensure that your child has an attorney present during questions.
It can be easy to panic or become angry when your child is detained or arrested. It is important that you avoid these reactions, however, in favor of calmly requesting for information about your child and their whereabouts. The calmness is important if you intend to request that you be present for questioning – law enforcement will generally react better to individuals who are calm and rational, even if your internal emotions are anything but.
If possible, it is a good idea to reach out to an attorney at this point and secure representation for your child. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney and are eligible to receive a public defender, one will be appointed to your child’s case.
Once a juvenile has been taken into custody or arrested, Illinois law mandates that the police officer in question take the juvenile to another police officer who has been trained in handling juvenile arrestees. Depending upon the specific situation, there are a few different scenarios that can happen after this point. The police might decide to formally charge your child, or they might decide to place them in a station adjustment, also known as a diversion program.
If your child is placed in a station adjustment, understand that this is a way for them to avoid prosecution. Your child will ultimately be released into your care; however the police are free to impose certain restrictions upon their release. These might include any of the following:
- Curfew Restriction
- Drug or Alcohol Counseling
- Public Service Hours
The above is not an exhaustive list by any means, but is simply meant to give parents a general guide as to what they can expect.
If the juvenile is to be formally charged, then they will receive an initial screening to decide whether or not they should be detailed or released to their legal guardian. The juvenile must receive a detention hearing within 40 hours of their arrest in order to determine whether or not they should be released or remain in detention.
Should the juvenile be charged, then the case will be passed along to the state’s lawyer. This attorney will then decide whether they wish to proceed informally or formally with the charges. If they proceed formally, then the attorney will then file a delinquency petition. This requires the case to be sent through juvenile court.
If the case is to proceed informally, then the state has essentially declined to press charges. The case will likely be dismissed as long as the juvenile adheres to certain restrictions and conditions as part of the deal, much like they would in the station adjustment situation.
Once the decision to proceed with formal charges has been determined, you can expect to experience pre-trial, where your child will enter not guilty or guilty. If the case continues to trial, then your child will go through an adjudication hearing. This is the trial during which the case against your child is laid out, and your defense is presented. Next is the sentencing hearing.
If your child has been detained or arrested, reach out for help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The Law Offices of George P. Kallas can help! Call us for a free consultation at 630.479.7100.