Navigating the Juvenile Court System in Illinois

The first juvenile court was established in Cook County in 1899. Since then the juvenile justice system has seen a number of changes to better serve minors who are charged with crimes.

What is the Purpose of the Illinois Juvenile Court System?

When the state of Illinois enacted the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, it attempted to set clear goals for the juvenile justice system to meets the needs of minors who are charged with crimes. At its core, the stated purpose of the act is to:

  • Secure the care and guidance to serve the safety and moral, emotional, mental and physical welfare of the minor, preferably in his or her own home.
  • Serve the best interests of the community.
  • Preserve and strengthen the minor’s family ties, whenever possible.
  • Remove the minor from the custody of his or her parents when the safety or welfare of the minor, or protection of the community, cannot be adequately safeguarded.

The statute attempts to clearly define the various circumstances that impact juvenile offenders, while attempting to provide advocates on both sides with the guidelines for best serve the interests of the minor.

When Juveniles Offenders are Tried as Adults

One should understand that in Illinois, as in every other state, there are ways in which a minor could be tried as an adult :

  • A juvenile court judge may do so using a “judicial waiver.”
  • When jurisdiction of a case is shared by both juvenile and criminal courts (concurrent jurisdiction) transfer may occur by means of a “prosecutorial waiver.”
  • State statutes exist that exclude certain offenders from juvenile court. Under these circumstances a “statutory waiver” will be used to enact the transfer.

However, new laws enacted in 2016 included provisions to keep juveniles out of the criminal courts. These include:

  • Those younger than 16 will begin in juvenile court regardless of the charge.
  • Only three charges result in automatic trial as an adult for minors 16 and older: first-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated battery with a firearm.
  • Minors previously convicted as adults are no longer automatically transferred to adult court.

An Experienced Joliet Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney Will Protect Your Family

Should your family face with the prospect of navigating the Juvenile Criminal Justice System it is important to have a knowledgeable and experienced Will County juvenile criminal defense lawyer Will County juvenile criminal defense lawyer advocating for your son or daughter. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba will work to help minimize the stress of the situation, while presenting a vigorous defense on behalf of your child throughout the proceedings.

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26 East Clinton Street Joliet, IL 60432