Despite the common belief to the contrary, juvenile criminal cases are often more complex than those for their adult counterparts accused of the same offense. Regulations covering the criminal conduct and prosecution of juveniles are not uniform, with individual courts often instituting their own policies on any aspect of such procedures not explicitly governed by the relevant law. If one is accused of a crime while still a juvenile under the the law, there are certain questions that may must be addressed that would likely be taken for granted with an adult defendant.
Similar Yet Different Rules
Juvenile proceedings in Illinois are usually governed by the Illinois Juvenile Court Act , though some, such as for minors in possession of controlled substances, are usually tried in the same court as those of adults accused of the same offenses. However, some of the rights commonly associated with criminal trials are not granted to juvenile defendants. For example, no bail is available in the juvenile system, and juvenile defendants are not usually held until their trial, even for crimes that might otherwise warrant it.
Despite this, most of the procedures are the same as those executed in court with adults, with the only differences being greater considerations for the rights of the defendant and the potential harm to the defendant’s future. This is the main reason why most juvenile records are sealed and thus inaccessible to most future employers or colleges. Juvenile judges must be more exacting in weighing the necessity of punishment versus the potential to have a young person’s future negatively affected due to one youthful indiscretion or mistake.
Disclosures by Juvenile Defendants
Another potential issue that is less common when defending adults is that often, juvenile defendants are insufficiently educated regarding the potential pitfalls of the criminal court system, especially in regard to what they choose to disclose to the prosecution or to law enforcement. Being untruthful to anyone in authority is obviously not advisable, but for example, it is the right of any defendant to remain silent until granted access to counsel. A juvenile defendant is less likely to be aware that they are not required to grant a statement to law enforcement without an attorney present.
Be advised, however, that Illinois jurisprudence emphasizes that—especially in a case involving a minor—confessions and other statements taken without either counsel or parents present are likely to be ruled inadmissible. A confession must be “free, voluntary, and not obtained by any … exertion of improper influence,” and it is much easier to argue that a minor’s confession or statement is involuntary given the circumstances than it would be for an adult.
Contact a Skilled Juvenile Defense Attorney
Seeing one’s children having to go through the juvenile justice system is frightening and confusing for any parent, but qualified legal counsel can help make the process easier. Contact an experienced Will County juvenile defense attorney at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today. Mr. Zaremba is a former prosecutor who is ready to assist you and your family when you need it most.