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Illinois Juvenile Justice Lawyer

Juvenile Lawyer Explains Juvenile Delinquency Court in DuPage County, Kane County, Cook County, Will County

For decades in Illinois, 17-year-olds have been told that they are not old enough to vote, sign contracts or buy cigarettes, but they have been treated by the Illinois courts as old enough to be sent to adult court and adult jail. As of January 1, 2010, that has changed. A new Illinois law has taken effect making age 18 the cutoff between adult court and juvenile court for youth charged with misdemeanors, like retail theft, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, text messaging sexually explicit material, criminal damage to property, battery and other criminal offenses.

The purpose of the Illinois Juvenile Court Act is to provide for the care and the guidance that will serve the safety and moral, emotional, mental, and physical welfare of the minor child and the best interests of the community; to preserve and strengthen the minor's family ties whenever possible, removing him or her from the custody of his/her parents and terminating parental rights only when the safety of the juvenile or welfare or the protection of the public cannot be adequately safeguarded without removal of the minor.

In doing so, it protects the identity of minor by closing the proceedings to the public. Upon completion of the proceedings, the youth offender will not have a permanent record available to the public thereby giving him/her the opportunity to reach his/her full potential.

Juvenile Defense Lawyer Required in Illinois

A minor child accused of a misdemeanor crime or other criminal offense will be brought before a judge within 24 hours of being detained by the police. Unlike adult offenders, the juvenile justice system defendants MUST be represented by an attorney. Parents of juvenile justice offenders are required to appear in court, as well. The initial detention hearing is for the purpose of determining whether the child defendant shall be detained in the juvenile detention hall or foster facility while the case is pending before the court. And unlike the adult system, there is no option to pay a bond to be released from custody immediately. The juvenile may be released only under very strict terms so long as the minor is supervised. Otherwise, the juvenile may be required to remain at the juvenile detention center.

An attorney experienced in juvenile justice matters will make all the difference in the initial detention hearing, and later during the adjudicatory and sentencing phases of the juvenile justice system. An experienced attorney like those at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. will explore every possible alternative to the child being declared delinquent and his/her parental rights being terminated. If the court finds that there is no probable cause to believe that the minor is a delinquent it shall release the minor and dismiss the petition to declare the child defendant a delinquent and terminate their parents' rights. If the court finds that there is probable cause to believe that the minor is a delinquent minor, the child, his/her parents and others may present evidence that the juvenile defendant should still be released to his/her parents' care. In some instances, the Illinois juvenile court will deem it appropriate for the minor child to remain in the care of the state at the juvenile detention facility.

Adjudicatory Hearing

The second phase of the juvenile justice system in Illinois is the process of having an adjudicatory hearing for the minor defendant. If the juvenile court finds that the minor defendant is not guilty of the crime alleged, the court shall order the petition dismissed and the minor discharged from any detention or restriction previously ordered in the juvenile proceeding. If the court finds that the minor is guilty of the offense alleged by the state's attorney, the court shall then set a time for a sentencing hearing to be conducted under Section 5€‘705 of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Act. At that hearing the court shall determine whether it is in the best interests of the minor and the public that he/ she be made a ward of the court and the rights of his/her parents be terminated. To assist the court in making this and other determinations at the sentencing hearing, the court may order that an investigation be conducted and a social investigation report be prepared.

There are many tactics, strategies and alternatives to be explored before a sentence is rendered. Experienced attorneys like those at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., know that it is in the child's best interest to involve the juvenile probation department and social services at the earliest possible opportunity to obtain the best possible outcome for the child offender. The lawyers at the firm have experience, as either prosecutors or defense attorneys, with the procedures and policies of the juvenile justice system and promise to act swiftly to protect the child's rights.

If your child has been charged with or arrested for a crime, or you believe a charge or an arrest is imminent, do not hesitate to contact Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. online or at 630-472-9700.

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