What to Do if Your Child is Charged with Vandalism
Vandalism is the intentional destruction of another party’s property. It can include smashing items, intentionally destroying property with fire or explosives, drawing graffiti on another party’s property and shooting others’ property with a firearm.
Adolescents who are accused of vandalism can face criminal charges. When your child is charged with vandalism, his or her case is handled by the Illinois Department for Juvenile Justice (IDJJ). Work with an experienced juvenile defense lawyer to ensure that his or her rights are protected and his or her interests are promoted at every stage of the case’s progress.
Understand the Charge
As the parent of a teenager facing a vandalism charge, you are a better advocate for him or her if you have an understanding of the charge.
In Illinois, vandalism can be charged as criminal destruction of property or as criminal defacement of property. With charges like this, the penalties the defendant faces increase with the value of the property damaged. When church or school property is damaged or the property destroyed is farm or firefighting equipment, the defendant faces steeper penalties than he or she would for other types of property valued at the same amount.
In juvenile court, the judge has significant leeway to impose dispositions on juveniles found delinquent. With a property damage charge, your child could face incarceration, restitution, probation, community service, or a combination of these penalties.
Familiarize Yourself with the Juvenile Justice System
The next step for you is to familiarize yourself with the juvenile justice system. The juvenile justice system is quite different from the adult criminal justice system. These differences include the courtroom’s formality level, the presence of a jury, the terminology used to discuss cases and consequences, and even the penalties your child faces for his or her adjudication. Because of these differences, it is important that you work with a lawyer who has experience navigating the juvenile justice system, rather than a lawyer whose only experience is representing adult defendants.
Contact an Experienced Juvenile Defense Lawyer
Your child’s lawyer will determine the most effective way to handle the charge. The defense strategy he or she develops could be built around the lack of evidence linking your child to the vandalism he or she is charged with committing, or the right strategy could be seeking a disposition that provides him or her with the help he or she needs, such as counseling or an anger management course, rather than a strictly punitive disposition.
Work with an Experienced Geneva Juvenile Defense Lawyer
Teenagers make mistakes. Your son or daughter’s one-time mistake should not follow him or her through life or cause him or her to miss opportunities like scholarships and a normal high school experience. When your child is facing a vandalism charge, work with an experienced Naperville juvenile defense lawyer to fight the charge in court. To get started with a member of our team, contact Donahue & Sowa today to schedule your legal consultation in our office.