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Chicago Juvenile Justice Attorney

When a child is arrested and charged with a crime, a parent’s instinct is to protect that child. And so it should be.  Dealing with the juvenile justice system can be challenging for a family. We seek to ease the process by providing sound legal advice and aggressive representation. We understand how important it is to be available to answer questions and address concerns whenever they arise. We also understand what is at stake when handling juvenile cases. Our goal is to protect our juvenile clients from the harsh consequences of a criminal conviction so they have the opportunity to turn their lives in a positive direction.

What is Juvenile Justice?

Juvenile law is based on the idea that children are different from adults, and better able to learn and change. The goal of juvenile justice is to hold youths accountable for their actions, to help them find a safe, productive path in life, and to protect people and communities from juvenile crime. Anyone 17 years old or under is a child according to Illinois law, but not every child charged with a crime goes to juvenile court. In very serious crimes, youths over 15 can be tried in adult criminal court.

Who is considered a juvenile in the criminal justice system?

Someone’s juvenile status depends on 2 factors:

  • The type of criminal offense (misdemeanor or felony); and
  • The age of the defendant at the time the offense was committed

For misdemeanor offenses, a defendant is considered a juvenile if the offense occurred when they were 17 or younger.

For felony offenses, a defendant is considered a juvenile if the offense occurred when they were 16 or younger.

For example, if you commit an offense when you were 17, you would be considered a juvenile if it was a misdemeanor, but an adult if it was a felony.

How long can a juvenile be held under arrest?

The amount of time a juvenile can be held under arrest before they are charged or released depends on their age. Police officers can hold someone under 12 years of age for only 6 hours. Juveniles between 12-16 years of age can be held for 12 hours if a non-violent crime is being investigated and for up to 24 hours if a violent crime is being investigated.

Can a juvenile be questioned without a parent or legal guardian present?

Yes. Illinois law states that police officers must make a “reasonable attempt” to contact a juvenile’s parent or legal guardian if a juvenile is arrested. Police can contact a responsible adult to be present during questioning as well if a legal guardian cannot be present. A youth officer must be present if the police question the juvenile. A part of the youth officer’s job is to step in as a responsible adult to look out for the interests of the juvenile. The other part of the job is to process the juvenile once he or she is charged. However, a youth officer is just a regular officer that can and often does collect evidence against the juvenile. Police officers do not have to wait to question a juvenile until the parent or legal guardian arrives. Police officers also do not have to wait for permission to question a juvenile

What happens to a juvenile once they are charged?

Once a juvenile is charged, they are either released to their parent or legal guardian or held in a secure facility to wait for the outcome of their court case. Some counties in Illinois have a separate juvenile detention center for children 17 years and younger. In other counties, juveniles are held at the county jail. Illinois law states that there must be a “sight and sound barrier” between juveniles and adults in a detention center, with additional requirements for facilities which provide long-term care for juveniles. These laws apply to all juveniles, regardless of how serious the charges filed against them are or whether they are charged as a juvenile or as an adult.

What does it mean to be tried as an adult?

In some situations, a juvenile may be tried as an adult. This means that the case will take place as if it were an adult case, in the criminal courthouse of that county, with adult courtroom procedures and penalties.

Chicago Juvenile Court Attorney

It is frightening and stressful when your child is involved in the juvenile justice system. You may feel afraid to speak or ask questions, but it is very important for you to understand everything that happens. These events could make a difference in your child’s life for many years.

If your child has been charged with a juvenile criminal offense in Chicago, or the surrounding Chicagoland area, the Law Office of William Carlos Weeden can help. Contact our office today at (773) 683-1060 for a confidential initial consultation at no cost.  We will go over the circumstances of your child’s arrest, answer your questions, and advise you on the best steps forward.

Call us: 773.683.1060 Juvenile Matters 24hrs/7days

Law Office of William Carlos Weeden

The information on this website has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship or warrant that a certain result will be attained in a specific case. The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois. We encourage you to contact us or another legal professional for advice regarding your individual situation.

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