An Illinois juvenile may face a different justice system than an adult. Called a delinquent minor instead of a criminal, the courts place greater importance on rehabilitation as opposed to punishment. If your child faces charges, there are important facts you should know.
According to the National Juvenile Defender Center, Illinois does not have a minimum age of prosecution in Juvenile Court. However, typically a defendant is a juvenile if the defendant was 17 or younger and the offense was a misdemeanor. A defendant must be 16 or younger if the crime was a felony.
Police may detain a juvenile under 12 years of age for up to six hours. The maximum detention time for juvenile suspects between 12 and 16 years of age is 12 hours for non-violent crimes and 24 hours for violent crimes. In most cases, the authorities release your child to your custody. If the justice system pursues charges, they must hold a detention hearing within 40 hours.
While contacting the juvenile’s parents is a priority after an arrest, authorities can begin questioning without you present. However, what your child says during questioning may become inadmissible in court unless the police meet the following requirements.
- Reciting the Miranda warning before asking questions
- Recording of the questioning if the suspected offense is a misdemeanor
- Asking if your child wants a lawyer and if they want to speak
The severity of the consequences depends on the alleged crime. Understanding how the juvenile justice system works is critical for preserving your child’s rights and achieving the best possible outcome.