Juvenile in handcuffsThis is the next post in my series on the handling of Peoria, Illinois criminal cases which involve juveniles. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing and stressed the need to contact an attorney if your son or daughter has been charged. When selecting counsel it is important to retain someone who is experienced in handling such matters. In this article I will be discussing an important topic – the differences in the adult and juvenile systems. If you require assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

While there are many similarities between the adult and juvenile systems, there are also many differences. When an Illinois youth commits a crime the offense is generally considered to be “civil” and not “criminal” in nature. The law views the juvenile justice system as a way to “straighten out” troubled youths and not as a form of punishment. This is one reason why a young person’s record will be sealed once they reach the age of eighteen. The fact that juvenile cases are considered to be civil matters also means that, generally speaking, Judges will have far more discretion in the level of a sentence which they give to a young person. This can make the juvenile justice system seem less formal than the system which adults deal with.

There are also many similarities between the adult and juvenile systems. A youth is guaranteed the same right to counsel as is an adult. A young person also has a right to challenge the admission of any evidence or statements which were gained in violation of their Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights. Many of the other rights that one is guaranteed, under the United States Constitution, will also apply to juvenile cases. Juvenile cases also involve many of the same procedures; a youth will have an arraignment at which they will enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty” and they have the right to be provided any exculpatory evidence. While juvenile cases are considered “civil,” its similarities to the adult system may leave parents feeling as though such a designation is a distinction without a difference.

If your son or daughter has been arrested and charged with an offense then it is important that you retain counsel who is familiar with handling such situations. I am a former prosecutor and believe that everyone is entitled to the most vigorous defense, regardless of their circumstances. I am familiar with our local court systems and will make sure you know what to expect from the process. Contact my office today to speak with a juvenile defense attorney. In addition to Peoria, I service the cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. I serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford. I also handle federal cases in Urbana.