Advocating for Your Child to Be Tried as a Juvenile
When an adolescent under the age of 18 is accused of a criminal offense, he or she is typically tried as a juvenile. This means his or her case is handled by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ). However, there are cases in which minors are tried as adults. Sometimes, this is because the charge is one of the offenses that require the defendant to be tried as an adult: first degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated battery with a firearm. In other cases, this is because the court has determined that it is appropriate to charge him or her as an adult.
As the parent of a minor facing a criminal charge, you must be proactive about developing an effective legal defense strategy with the help of an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer. Do not put it on your child to find their own lawyer or navigate the criminal defense system on their own – you might not agree with your child’s actions, but failing to help them now will have a long-lasting, negative impact on their life. Protect your child by being their top advocate.
The Differences Between the Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems
The juvenile justice system’s primary focus is rehabilitating young offenders. Because of this, juvenile courts have much more leeway than adult courts to determine appropriate dispositions for minors adjudicated delinquent. Dispositions can include incarceration, substance addiction treatment, psychological counseling, placement with another legal guardian, and anger management courses.
There are a few more important differences between the adult and juvenile justice systems. These include:
- Juveniles do not have the right to public trials by jury. Instead, their cases are heard in private adjudication hearings; and
- Regarding courtroom decorum and protocol, the juvenile justice system is far more informal than the criminal justice system.
Demonstrating Your Child’s Capacity for Rehabilitation
If your child is not facing one of the charges that require him or her to be tried as an adult, the court may still choose to do so if he or she is over 16 years old. Factors it considers when determining whether to try a minor as an adult are:
- The minor’s mental health;
- Whether there have been previous attempts to rehabilitate the minor;
- The nature of the charge; and
- The minor’s previous criminal record.
Work with your child’s lawyer to advocate for them to be tried as a juvenile. You can do this by presenting sufficient evidence to show that they would be better served by the juvenile justice system. This could include documentation of mental health struggles they have faced and their clear criminal record. It could also include discussing their previous traumas and rehabilitation successes.
Contact an Experienced Geneva Criminal Defense Attorney
As your child’s advocate, you need to be the one to hire a Naperville juvenile defense lawyer to handle their case. Get started with a member of our team at Donahue & Sowa today by contacting our office to set up your initial legal consultation. We will answer every question you have and help you determine the next steps to take with your child’s case. Call us at 630-505-5200 for help.