New Illinois Law Ends Automatic Transfer of Some Juveniles to Adult Court

Rolling Meadows Juvenile Offenses Attorney

Being charged with and ultimately convicted of a crime as a juvenile in the State of Illinois can have lasting effects on your child’s life. If your child has been accused of a crime in Illinois, is it critical to explore your legal options early in the process to ensure the best possible protection of your child’s legal rights. One of the immediate concerns upon arrest is whether the child’s case will be heard in a juvenile or adult court.

New Bill Blocks Automatic Transfer

Though each court in Illinois has its own jurisdiction and types of cases it is authorized to hear, one of the greatest distinctions between courts in procedure, sentences, and outcome is between the juvenile and the regular state courts. Up until recently, Illinois was one of only 14 states that automatically transferred juveniles (those under 18 when they committed the crime) to adult court without the opportunity to first have the case before a juvenile judge. The juvenile judge’s role is to consider the juvenile defendant’s criminal history, mental capacity, background, culpability, and the crime at issue before making a determination of whether the individual should be tried as an adult or remain in juvenile court. Without this opportunity, children as young as 15 could be transferred to Illinois State Court, regardless of the underlying crime at issue.

The new law, which will be implemented as of January 2016, will prohibit automatic transfers for 15-year-olds, and allow automatic transfers for 16 and 17-year-olds, but only for those charged with first-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated battery with a firearm.

Common Juvenile Crimes

Children are far more likely to be involved in the following crimes, all of our experienced team can help defend:

  • Shoplifting;
  • Trespassing;
  • School fights and other incidents;
  • Underage drinking;
  • Possession of alcohol or drugs;
  • Sex crimes; and
  • Gang activity.

The objective behind the new law is to ensure that individuals who commit some of these “lower level” crimes will not necessarily be punished as adults for their actions, but rather, benefit from rehabilitative offerings that juvenile justice centers aim to provide.

Differences Between Juvenile and Adult Court

There are many benefits to being charged as a juvenile rather than an adult. A judge is more likely to take personal characteristics into consideration when hearing the case, considering the child’s demeanor, temperament, level of sincerity, and likelihood of rehabilitation. This is all very important if your child is a first-time offender and the crime was an isolated incident in his or her life.

Moreover, there are diversion programs, rehabilitative programs, and other alternative punishments that would prevent a juvenile from serving jail time. Upon the successful completion of many of these programs or probationary periods, many minor juvenile offenses can be dismissed or expunged, allowing a clean start for a child’s adult life. If detention is necessary, the child may still be able to attend classes or work toward obtaining a GED so as not to disrupt the academic schedule.

Consequently, being tried as an adult may mean incarceration during the long wait for trial. It may result in you and your teen missing work or school. It may also mean steeper punishments, fines, and jail time. In order to avoid charges that will leave a child with a criminal record, keeping a case in juvenile court is an important part of successfully defending any criminal case involving a juvenile.

Rolling Meadows Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyers

At Cosley Law Office, we understand the importance of preserving your child’s criminal record. We believe that people are inevitably going to make mistakes in their life and as a juvenile, they have an opportunity to right these wrongs. Our experienced Cook County criminal defense attorneys will advocate on your child’s behalf to ensure that his or her legal rights are being protected and that every possible effort it made to keep the case in juvenile court. Even if your child is going to be tried as an adult, we have the knowledge necessary to successfully navigate complex criminal matters to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients. If your child been charged with a crime as a juvenile, contact our Rolling Meadows office to allow your child to begin moving past this mistake and onto a clean-slated adult life. Call 847-253-3100 for a free initial consultation today.

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Northwest Suburban Bar Association

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At the Law Offices of Donald J. Cosley, we represent clients in Illinois, including the cities of Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Palatine, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Elk Grove Village, Inverness, Wheeling, Long Grove and Mundelein, as well as Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County and throughout the Chicago, IL, metropolitan area.

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