When a juvenile is taken into police custody for violating the law, the police and state’s attorney can take one of two paths. They can reach an informal agreement at the police station with the juvenile and his parents, or they can file formal charges and take the case before a juvenile court judge. An informal disposition for a juvenile crime can take the form of a station adjustment or a probation adjustment.
How Does Illinois Define a Juvenile?
Under Illinois law effective January 1, 2014, a minor who commits a crime prior to his 18th birthday is treated as a juvenile and processed through the juvenile court system. A person may remain under the supervision of the juvenile courts until they reach age 21. There are two exceptions to this rule. First, violations of traffic, boating, and fish and game laws are handled by the adult courts. Second, a minor at least 16 years of age who commits a violent felony such as first degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated battery with a firearm will be prosecuted as an adult.
What Is a Probation Adjustment?
A probation adjustment is a somewhat more formal procedure than a station adjustment. With the permission of the state’s attorney, a juvenile probation officer may hold a conference with the minor, their parents, the police officer involved, and any other involved persons such as the victim. If the minor admits their offense and agrees to certain conditions, the probation officer can place the minor on informal probationary supervision for up to 12 months. This is similar to court-assigned probation but avoids court involvement. At the end of the informal supervision, the probation officer will terminate the matter. However, if the juvenile fails to adhere to the terms of the supervision, which include not being rearrested, the state’s attorney may proceed with a juvenile delinquency petition in juvenile court.
What Happens If a Juvenile Is Adjudicated Delinquent?
In the Illinois juvenile justice system, a juvenile is not convicted of a crime but rather is adjudicated delinquent. The most common sentence is probation. Of the 36,196 juveniles arrested in Illinois in 2014, the latest year for which data is available, more than half were released without being referred to the state’s attorney for prosecution; some of those will have gotten a station adjustment.
A total of 1,408 juveniles, or about 4 percent of those arrested, were subsequently given a probation adjustment, while 15,960, about 44 percent, went to juvenile court. Ultimately, 6,545, or 18 percent of those arrested, were assigned probation and 1,672, less than 5 percent, were sent to a correctional facility.
A Will County Juvenile Defense Attorney
If you are heading to the River Valley Justice Center in Joliet, you will want an experienced Joliet juvenile defense lawyer at your side. At the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, we have over a decade of experience in the juvenile and criminal courts of Will County. As a former prosecutor himself, attorney Zaremba knows what to expect and how to counter the prosecution’s case to achieve a more positive outcome for you. We offer a free consultation and answer calls around the clock. Call us at 815-740-4025.