Juvenile Drug Charges May Lead to Adult Punishments

Illinois criminal defense attorneys

While it is widely known teens can be tried as adults in murder cases, they are sometimes tried in adult courts for drug violations or other crimes as well. Illinois is one of nine states in which anyone 15 years old and over could be automatically charged as an adult for certain drug-related crimes. 

Illinois also operates under a “once-an-adult, always-an-adult” law, meaning that if a juvenile has been charged as an adult on any crime in the past, they will be tried as an adult in every subsequent crime that he or she commits. It makes no difference what the crime is in this situation.

Illinois Reforms to Juvenile Convictions

In 2005, a reform was passed that reversed a previous law requiring 15- and 16-year-olds to be tried as adults for certain crimes within 1,000 feet of a school or public housing. Many states have raised the age for trying as an adult to 18, and a number of other states are considering doing so as well. Attempts have even been made in Illinois to raise that minimum age to 21. 

Some studies have shown that teens tried and convicted as adults, and incarcerated for crimes, have a higher rate of committing more crimes and ending up in jail again. Other research shows that brains are still developing into a person’s mid-20s, and juvenile courts likely do a better job of punishing youth for their crimes, without ruining their lives by setting up a pattern of criminal behavior or placing serious charges on their permanent records.

When to Seek Legal Counsel

Anyone, regardless of age, that is charged with a drug offense, should seek advice from an experienced attorney. Charges may be reduced or dropped at the discretion of judges and prosecutors, based on the severity of the crime, whether it is a first offense, and other factors. It is important not to let a youthful indiscretion be a permanent mark upon your life if you can prevent it. 

Contact a Knowledgeable Naperville Defense Lawyer

The Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC, can provide you with an elite-level juvenile defense, to protect both the minor and their parents from facing maximum penalties. Contact an experienced St. Charles juvenile defense attorney who can help you get a fair deal. Call 630-232-1780 to set up a free consultation today.

Sources: 

https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/tough-crime-became-tough-kids-prosecuting-teenage-drug-charges-adult-courts/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/more-states-consider-raising-the-age-for-juvenile-crime/