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Juveniles Facing Felony Charges in Adult Court – What Parents and Teens Need to Know

 Posted on August 12, 2016 in Juvenile Offenders

DuPage County juvenile defense attorneyTeens cannot vote or buy cigarettes, and until they turn 18, they cannot enlist in the armed forces. Yet there are crimes they can commit that will send them into the adult court system. If convicted, they face a future with a criminal record, which drastically reduces their opportunities for housing and employment. In short, their lives forever changed. Could this happen to your teen? If you believe there is even the slightest possible chance that your juvenile offender could face this fate, the following information will help you understand how to proceed.

The History of the Juvenile Justice System in Illinois

At one time, teens as young as 15 could be automatically referred to adult court – and not just in Illinois. Many states were uncertain of how to handle teen offenders, and they reasoned that harsher penalties would keep crime rates down. Unfortunately, no one accounted for recidivism rates, which began to drastically increase among teens who had been tried as adults. Then the studies started to pour in. Many indicated teens, who are still mentally and emotionally developing, would be best served through a rehabilitation program.

Slowly but surely, states began increasing their minimum age for adult court. Illinois took longer than many others, but by 2015, drastic improvements had been made. Teens charged with misdemeanors would no longer be automatically referred to adult court, and fewer felony offenders would face adult charges. However, there were still three crimes – all violent offenses – that would result in an automatic diversion to adult court: first degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and aggravated criminal sexual assault for those aged 16 or older.

Where Illinois Stands Now

Not much has changed since the groundbreaking law changes. Teens between the ages of 16 and 18 charged with violent offenses are still sent to adult court. They face the possibility of prison, lifelong felony records, and all the effects that go with it. This knowledge can be extremely concerning to parents since they fully understand the consequences their teens are facing.

Protect Your Teen from Adult Consequences

Policy changes could drastically improve the outcome for teen offenders, but until that happens, parents need to do everything they can to protect their teens facing adult charges. Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, has more than 30 years of experience helping teen offenders. Committed to protecting your teen’s rights, we will work aggressively to mitigate their charges. Depending on the circumstances, we may even be able to have the charges dropped. Schedule your free initial consultation with our DuPage County juvenile defense lawyers today to learn more. Call us at 630-260-9647.


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