The Role of Juvenile Courts in Illinois

If you are under the age of 18 and charged with a crime in Illinois, you may end up before a juvenile court. However, your mere age alone won’t be the deciding factor of whether you are a juvenile under the law.

There are two major factors that will decide whether you appear before a juvenile court in Illinois, namely:

1 Whether the offense you committed is a felony or a misdemeanor;

2 The age at which you committed the alleged offense.

You will be considered a juvenile and dealt with in a juvenile court if you commit a misdemeanor aged 17 or younger. If you commit a felony under the age of 18, the situation is more complicated. You may be treated as a Juvenile by the criminal justice system if you were 16 or younger at the time of the alleged crime.

 

However, the courts may determine that you should be tried as an adult and your case will proceed in the same way as it would if you were over the age of 18.

In 2015, Illinois passed a raft of measures intended to keep teens out of prison.

The new legislation prevented youths from being detained for some misdemeanor crimes and gave judges more discretion on whether teens should be tried as adults.

The legislation included a measure to eliminate mandatory life sentences for minors convicted of murder and a provision to keep children under 13 out of the justice system by moving to place them with community service providers instead of a juvenile detention facility.

What Happens When a Juvenile is Arrested?

If a juvenile is arrested in Chicago or one of the surrounding communities, police must make a “reasonable attempt” to contact the juvenile’s parents or legal guardians. If a parent or a guardian cannot be present police can appoint a “responsible adult” to be at the questioning. This individual is often called a “youth officer.”

The youth office has a remit to look out for the juvenile’s best interest. However, he or she is still a police officer and may use evidence that can be used in court against the juvenile.

To defend your rights, you should talk to an experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer. Please call us at (312) 229-0008 for a free consultation.