Address 1200 Harger Road, Suite 706, Oak Brook, IL 60523
630-472-9700Available 24/7
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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

DuPage County Juvenile Adjudication Hearing Defense Attorney

Hinsdale Juvenile Defense Lawyer

Lawyers Defending Juvenile Clients at Trial and Sentencing in Elmhurst and Lombard

If your minor child (age 17 or younger) has been charged with a crime, they will generally be processed through the Illinois juvenile justice system. Only the most severe offenses, such as homicide, are transferred to adult criminal court. Many cases are handled via plea agreements. If the youth pleads not guilty, then the determination of guilt will be made at a bench trial, also known as an adjudicatory hearing.

The attorneys at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. understand that a trial is a very stressful and costly process for both parents and child. We will always strive first to negotiate with the prosecutor to have charges dismissed or reduced, but are also prepared to advocate forcefully for your child in court.

Ways to Avoid a Juvenile Trial (Adjudicatory Hearing)

It is always best to minimize the time a child spends in the juvenile justice system and not only because of the time and costs involved. We must also be concerned about the records created in various offices and agencies. Yes, juvenile police and court records are supposed to be sealed, but access is still available to some parties including the military, certain government agencies, law enforcement and possibly prosecutors. As long as those records exist, the risk of their exposure also exists. After a period of time, juvenile records can be expunged (physically destroyed), but that also takes time and effort.

The prosecutor's office has the power to dismiss some or all of the charges at any point. Your attorney will look for weaknesses in the State's case, develop exculpatory evidence, and prepare a summary of reasons why the youth deserves leniency. Even if the prosecutor refuses to drop all charges, a reduction of the charges may be possible.

A plea bargain is another option. The minor has to plead guilty, but often to a lesser charge and thus lesser punishment. If the sentence is court supervision, this can be almost as good as a dismissal. As long as all conditions of the supervision are met, the minor avoids having their record stamped "adjudicated delinquent." In Illinois, juveniles are not "convicted of a crime" but rather "adjudicated delinquent." In addition, all records on this incident will be automatically expunged following the successful completion of the supervision (705 ILCS 405/5-915).

Procedures for Illinois Juvenile Trials (Adjudicatory Hearings)

If a juvenile decides to plead innocent and go to trial, the trial will be held within 120 days. Juvenile trials are almost always bench trials; only habitual or violent offenders may be given the option of a jury trial.

At the trial, the judge will hear testimony from the State, the youth, his/her parents or guardians, and any other people who have relevant and reliable information to present. The minor's attorney will be able to question all witnesses.

If the judge finds that the State's allegations are supported by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, the youth will be "adjudicated delinquent," the equivalent of a guilty verdict in adult court. The judge will then set a date for a sentencing hearing (sometimes called a dispositional hearing). The judge will typically allow time for a probation officer to conduct a study of the minor and their home situation, which will provide guidance to the judge in determining the sentence.

Alternatively, the case may be dismissed with no finding of guilt and the youth will be released.

While the general public is not allowed access to juvenile courtrooms and records, this does not guarantee total privacy. Some courts allow news reporters and alleged victims into the courtroom. While the news media are not allowed to state the names of accused minors or their parents, other facts of the case may be reported.

Juvenile Defense Lawyers in DuPage County

If your child has been charged with a crime, you will want to involve a skilled defense attorney at the earliest possible moment. The attorneys of Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. have decades of experience defending young clients in delinquency proceedings and trials. For a free consultation, contact our office at 630-472-9700. We provide legal counsel to clients in Addison, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Lombard, Oak Brook, Wheaton, and Westmont.

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