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Juvenile Justice System: Some Juveniles Are Tried as Adults in Illinois

April 16th, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinios juvenile crime attorney, We have two different systems in Illinois that deal with criminal justice: one for adults and one for juveniles under the age of 18. Cook County was one of the first places in the country to do this, realizing that children, by their very nature, are capable of changing their nature. Their brains, including their ability to control their impulses, are not fully developed, so they are not as culpable for their bad actions as their older counterparts. Unfortunately, some of these young people in Illinois are treated as adults despite the fact that this treatment is not supported by science.

The Juvenile Justice System in Illinois

The treatment of juveniles accused of crimes is covered in Illinois by the Juvenile Court Act. One of the goals of the act is supposed to be to provide individualized assessments and adjudications in juvenile cases with the goal of rehabilitation and preventing future delinquent behavior by juveniles. This can involve detention in some circumstances, but also involves diversion programs. In other words, unlike criminal prosecutions that are based almost exclusively on the ideas of punishment, revenge, and isolation of offenders from society, the juvenile system exists so as to change childhood bad behavior so that young people may improve their behavior and work well in society. The children found responsible for crimes under the juvenile system face a different punishment system from their adult counterparts, and they have stronger privacy rights including the ability to have their records shielded from public view.

Some Juvenile Offenders are Forced into the Adult System

Unfortunately, some of the most troubled juvenile offenders do not receive the benefit of the juvenile system. A portion of the Juvenile Court Act excludes certain minors from the protections of the law. Minors aged 15, 16, or 17 may not be judged in the juvenile system if they are accused of certain crimes. These crimes include first degree murder, aggravated sexual assault, certain types of aggravated battery with a firearm, armed robbery committed with a firearm, and aggravated vehicular hijacking with a firearm. In all fairness, these crimes are some of the most serious violent crimes on the books. But, while the crimes may be more serious, this does not indicate in anyway that the minors committing them are somehow more mature and developed than their peers who are committing less serious felonies like burglary or selling drugs. If anything, committing these sorts of crimes may demonstrate that a particular young person is not fully matured and does not yet have the impulse control of an adult.

Particularly troubling, however, is the sentencing for these crimes. If a young person charged with his or her first burglary were charged as adult, which cannot happen, the worst case scenario would involve the minor spending a few years in confinement. But when a 15-year-old is prosecuted as an adult for one of the serious charges mentioned in the previous paragraph, he or she faces sentences that are often so long that they act as de facto life sentences.

As a society we need to reconsider allowing juveniles to be tried as adults in criminal court. But in the meantime both juveniles and their parents need to understand the serious adult consequences they could face if charged with certain crimes.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If your child has been charged with a crime, you will need an experienced Rolling Meadows juvenile criminal defense attorney. This is especially true if your child is charged as an adult. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200.

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