Why Would a Minor be Tried as an Adult?
When an adolescent is arrested for allegedly committing a criminal offense, he or she may be tried as an adult. This means that rather than being adjudicated and facing penalties and rehabilitative efforts through the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the child may be convicted and sentenced to criminal penalties typically reserved for adult offenders.
It is rare for a minor to be tried as an adult, but it does happen in Illinois courts. A minor may be tried as an adult in the following scenarios.
Some Charges Must be Handled in Adult Court
These charges include:
- First degree murder;
- Aggravated battery with a firearm; and
- Aggravated criminal sexual assault.
When a minor age 16 or older is charged with one of these offenses, the case is automatically transferred to adult court.
Violent and Sexual Charges Can Lead to an Adult Trial
Other charges can lead to an adult trial for a minor as well. Generally, charges of a violent or sexual nature are more likely than other charges to result in the adolescent being tried as an adult.
In Many Cases, Trying a Minor as an Adult is Done at the Prosecutor’s Discretion
In 2015, Illinois adopted new laws regulating how minors may be charged and the circumstances under which they may be tried as adults. Whether to try a minor as an adult or not is at the prosecutor’s discretion and must involve the following considerations:
- The minor’s previous criminal record;
- The nature of the alleged offense;
- The minor’s mental health state; and
- Whether the juvenile justice system has attempted to rehabilitate the minor in the past.
Unlike the adult justice system, the juvenile justice system is focused on the rehabilitation of delinquent youth. When sentencing minors, judges may consider various factors about the minor and his or her case, such as his or her home life and degree of participation in the offense to determine the most effective solution for him or her. The right solution could involve punitive measures like incarceration, but it can also involve counseling and other rehabilitative efforts.
Under Illinois’ current law, courts strive to keep juvenile offenders out of adult prisons. Previously, juveniles who had been convicted of adult-level crimes were automatically tried as adults. Today, all minors except for those whose charges automatically transfer to adult court start their cases in the juvenile justice system.
Work with an Experienced St. Charles Juvenile Defense Lawyer
If your son or daughter has been arrested or charged with a criminal offense, it is important that you work with an experienced Naperville criminal defense lawyer to develop an effective strategy for your child’s case. If your child can potentially be tried as an adult, you are looking at a very different justice process than if he or she is tried as a minor. Contact our team at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation with our firm.