Juvenile crimes inIllinois involve criminal cases with minors who are being tried in juvenile court for their offenses. A person who is 16 or under (17 for misdemeanors) can be tried in juvenile court for most crimes. Juvenile cases can carry incarceration despite the fact that adjudication in juvenile court is not the same as being convicted of a felony in adult court. This is because in most cases, records are sealed to prospective employers, colleges and the general public. For this reason and others, all juvenile defendants charged with a crime are required by law to be represented by an attorney.
There are also regulations that set the juvenile justice system very apart from the adult criminal justice system. For example, when there is domestic neglect or abuse involved with the crime committed by the juvenile, the case may also involve the regulations of the Department of Children and Family Services. This is why it is paramount in these cases to retain an attorney who specializes in the juvenile justice system and family cases.
A criminal defense lawyer without juvenile defense experience may not be the best choice to handle cases involving crimes committed by minors. A juvenile offense requires an attorney who understands all the possible mitigating issues and circumstances that may lead to positive options in the final outcome of the case.
If you take into account cases in which a juvenile is charged with certain crimes under aggravated circumstances, they may be tried as an adult in the criminal justice system and face incarceration in a penal institution for adults. This is a very detrimental outcome for a minor to begin his adult life as an imprisoned felon who will have the lifelong stigma of being a former inmate with a criminal record. He or she will also be exposed to the influential behavior of life-long criminals and be subjected to possible abuse and, when released, be better trained in the behavior that led to the original incarceration.
If you have a child who has been charged with a crime as a juvenile, it is in your family’s best interest to retain a defense lawyer immediately. You need to find one who knows his or her way around the jurisdiction where the case will be tried. A skilled juvenile defense attorney will have experience in serious juvenile crimes such as:
A minor charged with these offenses could be tried as an adult. A skilled defense attorney may be able to have the charges reduced and tried in juvenile court, plea bargain for probation and community service, or rehabilitation and fines in lieu of jail time – especially if a youthful offender has no previous criminal record.
Juvenile offenders require a defense strategy that is designed to keep the minor out of the adult penal system and away from the influences of career criminals, to prevent the minor from having a permanent criminal record, to seek to have their charges reduced to offenses that do not carry mandatory incarceration.
The attorney must also possess the experience of dealing with the Department of Family Services and be aware that the juvenile’s behavior may be the direct result of the influence of a detrimental domestic environment and be able to prove that as part of the minor’s defense.
When it comes to juvenile offenses, the focus of the Juvenile Court System is the welfare of the minors and the rehabilitation of youthful offenders and the restoration of the family; however in recent years the Illinois court system has focused more on the punishment of the juvenile. This reason alone should be motivation to retain the best attorney for your child.