When Can a Child Be Tried as an Adult in an Illinois Criminal Case?

St. Charles juvenile criminal defense attorney

Most adults will admit that they made some poor decisions in their youth. This may be attributed to the fact that the average human brain is still developing during adolescence. Research shows that a teenager’s prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and risk management, is not fully formed until his or her mid-20s or later. This may be part of the reason that juveniles who are otherwise law-abiding citizens sometimes make impulsive decisions that lead to criminal charges. If your child has been arrested and charged with a crime, you may wonder whether or not he or she will be tried as an adult. Juveniles who are tried as adults are subject to adult criminal penalties that can dramatically impact their future.

When Are Juveniles Treated as Adults Under Illinois Law?

If a person is 17 years old or younger and is accused of a misdemeanor offense, he or she will most likely be tried in juvenile court. However, if a child is 16 years old or older, and he or she is charged with certain more serious offenses, he or she may automatically be tried in adult court. A criminal defendant aged 16 or 17 will be tried as an adult in Illinois if he or she is charged with homicide, aggravated battery involving the use of a firearm, or sexual assault. If the child is under 16 years old, the prosecution may request for the case to be transferred to adult court, but this transfer may not be granted. The child’s attorney will have the opportunity to argue against the child being tried as an adult.

What Do Judges Consider When Deciding Whether a Juvenile Case Should be Heard in Adult Court?

If your minor child has been charged with a felony offense, he or she may be at risk of being tried as an adult. If the prosecution asks for a juvenile case to be heard in adult court, the judge will weigh several factors to determine whether or not this is appropriate. The court will consider:

  • The child’s background and criminal history

  • The nature of the crime

  • The child’s mental capacity

  • The child’s degree of fault

Cases heard in the juvenile justice system are usually handled much differently than cases in adult court. Judges have wide discretion when assigning criminal penalties to juveniles, and they typically prefer rehabilitation programs to long jail sentences. If a juvenile is tried as an adult, he or she will be subject to the same laws as a person over 18 would be. If that defendant is convicted of the crime, he or she will be sentenced as an adult, which could mean a significant prison sentence, probation, fines, a permanent criminal record, and other consequences.

Contact a St. Charles Juvenile Defense Lawyer

At the Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC, we believe that young people charged with criminal offenses deserve a second chance. We have a long history of fighting for the rights of the accused, including both adult offenders and juvenile offenders. Schedule a free and confidential consultation with our seasoned Illinois criminal defense attorneys to discuss your child’s case by calling our office today at 630-232-1780.