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Wheaton juvenile crimes defense attorneyIf your son or daughter has been accused of a crime, he or she will probably need to face trial but not in an adult criminal court. For minors ages 17 and younger, DuPage County has a robust juvenile court system. They take every crime committed by young people very seriously. From relatively minor crimes such as theft or traffic violations to much more serious offenses like underage drinking, DUI, drug possession, and sexual assault,  juvenile offenses in Illinois have the potential to threaten the future of your son or daughter’s life.

Fortunately, in Illinois, despite a strict juvenile court system, the objective is still rehabilitation as opposed to punishment. Nearly everyone involved in the process is looking to help the accused get back on track after the follies of their youth or other lapses in judgment attributed to immaturity as a young person. However, that is not to say that your son or daughter should not have the appropriate representation from a juvenile defense attorney during their trial. Here are some reasons why the right lawyer during a juvenile defense case is critical.

Why Having an Attorney Matters

If you hire the right lawyer to represent your son or daughter in juvenile court, you and your child can benefit in the following ways:

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The Legal Consequences of Underage DrinkingUnderage drinking is a common activity among teens in social situations. Even those who do not enjoy drinking may feel pressured to fit in with their peers. Parents understand the dangers of underage drinking but may think of it more as a matter of parental discipline than legal punishment. Possession or consumption of alcohol by someone younger than 21 is a crime in Illinois with serious consequences. The penalties become harsher if the drinking is combined with other offenses, such as driving or using a fake ID.

Possession and Consumption

Underage possession or consumption of alcohol is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois, punishable by a maximum fine of $2,500 and as long as a year in jail. Jail time is highly unlikely for this offense. The biggest consequence for the teen may be the loss of their driving privileges:

  • Their license will be suspended for three months if they receive court supervision.
  • Their license will be suspended six months for a first offense.
  • Their license will be suspended for a year for a second offense.

Possessing alcohol does not mean that the underage person must be caught holding the alcohol. Having the alcohol nearby and within easy access to them also counts as possession. The exception for underage consumption is if the teen is at home and under the supervision of a parent.

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underage drinking, 911 law, Wheaton criminal defense lawyerBetween 2008 and 2012, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that there were nine underage alcohol-induced deaths in the state. This number included only alcohol overdoses, and did not consider the potentially hundreds of deaths caused by other means in which alcohol may have played a role, such as drunk-driving auto accidents. The loss of life due to underage drinking is certainly tragic, and Illinois lawmakers are taking measures aimed at preventing future deaths.

State Representative Scott Drury, D-Highwood, sponsored a bill which passed the Illinois House last month, and was recently introduced in the state Senate. The measure would provide a level of legal protection for underage drinkers who call 911 to help a friend in danger of overdrinking. Nearly two dozen other states have enacted similar legislation, sometimes called Good Samaritan 911 laws, and Illinois law currently provides such protection in drug overdose situations.

Inspired by an alcohol-related death of an underage drinker in his district, Drury sees the proposed law as a way to alleviate some of the fear associated with contacting authorities in an emergency situation. It does not condone underage drinking at all, he said. It just recognizes that underage drinking happens and when it happens and people need help, they should get the help. He also indicated that the measure would allow law enforcement to determine if a call was made in good faith, rather than to simply avoid trouble.

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The Illinois Liquor Control Commission has used the high school football season as a launch site for a program targeting underage drinking. The program includes educational materials for Your Actions Matter, recognizing that fall sports events are a popular place for teens to be introduced to alcohol. Drinking underage or providing alcohol to minors can have serious consequences for your future, and if you’re been charged with either of these, you need the assistance of an underage drinking criminal attorney.

The program includes cooperation from school districts, law enforcement, parents, local elected officials, and other relevant community leaders to come together and raise awareness about adults who think it’s acceptable to provide alcohol to minors. Illinois law classifies this activity as a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum $500 fine and possible jail time.

The campaign is using posters, signs, window decals, and necktags to make the statement that preventing underage drinking is everyone's responsibility. Those individuals under the age of 21 who purchase alcohol for themselves or others face legal punishments in the form of revoked driving privileges. Examples include 3-month suspension of driving privileges for court supervision, 6 months for a first conviction, 1 year for a second conviction, and a revoked license for any additional convictions.

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