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.