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When might Illinois charge a juvenile offender as an adult?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2022 | Juvenile Offenses

When your child faces a criminal charge in Illinois, you may wonder whether the state might have the right to charge him or her as an adult. Adult criminal charges typically have harsher penalties than those associated with juvenile offenses.

Per the Illinois State Bar Association, minors under the age of 18 are generally not yet seen as adults in the eyes of the law. Yet, in some cases, such as when a criminal offense is especially serious, those under the age of 18 may still face prosecution in adult court.

When the state might charge juveniles as adults

If your son or daughter is at least 16 and commits certain offenses, he or she must make his or her case in adult court regardless of what the prosecutor on the case wants. This holds true if your child faces a charge of first-degree murder. It also holds true if your child faces a charge of aggravated battery involving the discharge of a gun or aggravated criminal sexual assault. In some instances, juveniles under 16 may also have to plead their cases in adult court, although this is rare.

What determines if a juvenile undergoes prosecution as an adult

Often, whether a juvenile’s case goes to juvenile or adult court is at the prosecutor’s discretion. Other factors that may come into play include whether the offender has an existing criminal history and the nature of the offense, itself. Your child’s mental health and home life may also undergo review when determining whether he or she must go to adult or juvenile court.

Because the penalties associated with adult offenses are more serious, it often serves juveniles offenders and their families well to have their cases heard in juvenile court.