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Illinois Commission Advises to Treat all 17-Year-Olds as Adults

July 12th, 2013 at 8:31 am

A state juvenile justice advisory group has recently recommended that Illinois should start treating all 17-year-olds that have been charged with felonies as adults.

Lucy, KH post (Dropbox photo)The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission is a 24 member advisory group that is chaired by retired chief judge George Timberlake from Mount Vernon. The commission issued its report just after examining the impact of a change in the state law in 2010.

Before the 2010 law change, anyone older than 16 that was charged with any type of crime was treated as a legal adult and went through the adult court system.

Beginning in 2010, when the General Assembly reached a compromise, 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors were to be handled in the juvenile courts and 17-year-olds charged with felonies were to be prosecuted as adults.

Most states have set 18 as the default age for when criminal defendants are to be treated as adults. Illinois, however, is one of only 12 states with a lower age, according to the commission.

The recommendation from the Illinois commission states that “in the interest of fairness and public safety,” all 17-year-olds charged with any type of crime should be handled in juvenile courts, except those who must be transferred to an adult court for specific serious offenses.

The commission found that , “Instead of drawing a wise, safe or clear distinction between minor and serious offenses, the Illinois law splitting 17-year-olds between two court systems caused confusion, and jurisdictional questions still regularly arise when 17-year-olds are arrested.”

In a prepared statement, Timberlake stated that now, research demonstrates that the Illinois juvenile justice system “can manage the addition of 17-year-olds charged with felonies, it’s time to complete the reform.”

If you have been charged with a crime, especially if you are a 17-year-old in Illinois, having an experienced criminal attorney is very important. Contact our criminal defense lawyers in DuPage, Cook, Kane and Will Counties today for assistance.

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