Juvenile Defendants and Jury Trials

joliet juvenile lawyer

Having the option of being tried in court before a jury of one’s peers is a right our country’s justice system guarantees. However, in most cases involving juvenile crime , the opportunity to seek a jury trial is not offered in Illinois. This policy was recently upheld by the state’s Supreme Court.

First Time Offenders

In Illinois, the rules pertaining to hearings for juvenile offenders are different depending on the criminal history of the defendant. Those rules were challenged when a Cook County Circuit Court Judge ordered a jury trial for a juvenile defendant charged in the shooting death of another teen.

In Illinois, jury trials are afforded to juvenile offenders with a history of repeat or violent offenses. First time offenders do not have the option of jury trials. An initial ruling in this case found part of that Illinois law unconstitutional. In ruling on an appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an opinion that the statute pertaining to jury trials for repeat offenders was distinctive enough from those pertaining to juveniles with no previous criminal history.

Since the incident in question occurred, the juvenile charged in the shooting has been held by the state. One possible outcome, if convicted, would see her released in one year, since the nearly five years which she has been in custody would count toward a sentence.

Repeat Offenders Receive Harsh Sentences

It has been widely reported that detainees in some Illinois juvenile detention facilities are being charged with felonies for reported attacks on staff members. In many cases, those detainees receive sentences that result in a transfer into the state’s adult prison system, where they serve out those sentences.

This is in stark contrast to a downstate teen who received probation and community service and was ordered to pay restitution for throwing a punch that ended up killing another teen while both attended a party.

Work with an Experienced Will County Juvenile Crimes Defense Lawyer

If your son or daughter is under the age of 18 and facing a juvenile court hearing, it is important to protect their rights, while understanding the juvenile justice system. A delay in retaining the help of a knowledgeable Joliet juvenile crimes defense attorney could cost more than just money; it could also cost your child their freedom. When you need an attorney who provides thorough and aggressive representation, contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can put our resources to work for you. Call 815-740-4025 today to speak with an experienced Illinois juvenile crimes defense lawyer.