Navigating the Juvenile Justice System in Illinois
The juvenile justice system is supposed to be geared toward rehabilitation and learning rather than punishment. Although it aims to hold children 17 and under accountable for crimes they may have committed, juveniles are not typically charged in the same way as adults. In some extreme exceptions, children 15 and older can be charged as adults, but when that happens, it is typically because the crime committed was particularly egregious, such as murder or battery causing major bodily harm. Although a child may go into the system while under the age of 18, he or she can be held in a juvenile center up to the age of 20.
What Can Parents Do to Help a Child Accused of a Crime?
Know your rights and your child’s rights. Police should contact you immediately if your child has been arrested or taken in for questioning. They must legally tell you any charges your child is facing and where he or she is being held. You also have the right to an attorney, and you have the right to be present during any and all questioning of your child.
Parents need to take an active role if their child has been charged with a crime. Staying involved will help ensure that your child’s life is affected as minimally as possible. Hire a lawyer who is familiar with the juvenile justice system and ask lots of questions. Your child will likely be assigned a caseworker, and this person can be an excellent resource as well. If you have questions during a court hearing, ask them then. Do not wait until the hearing ends, as it will likely be too late to make any changes at that point.
Advise your child not to tell the police or the state’s attorney anything until he or she has spoken to an attorney. Children have the right to tell authorities that they do not want to answer any questions, just as adults do. Anything the child says could be used against him or her. In addition, be firm with your child that no paperwork should be signed without a complete understanding of what is in the document.
When dealing with the police, keep in mind that they can say whatever they like, whether it is true or not, to try to elicit a confession. Remain calm and help your child to do so as well. Ensure that your child does not answer questions without legal representation, and be careful about what you and your child discuss inside of the police station, even if the authorities leave the room. They may be recording anything you say, unless your child’s attorney is in the room.
Contact a Naperville Juvenile Crime Defense Lawyer
If your child is accused of a crime, you need an experienced juvenile defense attorney to represent him or her. You should contact the Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC. A reliable St. Charles juvenile crime defense attorney will prepare the best defense possible for your child. Call 630-232-1780 today to schedule a free consultation.