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Illinois defense attorneySometimes, young people make mistakes. When that happens, Illinois law allows them to be tried in juvenile court as long as they are under the age of 18. If your child has been arrested or charged with a crime, the matter will be handled in a very different way than it would be in an adult courtroom. Nonetheless, ensuring you have a good attorney to help your family through the process can make things easier on all involved.

Many Differences

Unlike proceedings in regular court, juvenile proceedings have differing nomenclature and require different people and things. For example, representation by an attorney is required in all cases in Illinois juvenile court, and in most cases, a putative offender’s parents are also required to be present. Also, under Illinois law, minors who commit crimes are not seen as criminals, per se; rather, they are seen as “delinquent minors,” and the focus in most juvenile cases is intended to be on rehabilitation, rather than retribution. This does not always play out, but the general slant of the law pointed is in this manner.

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juvenile sentencingMaking bad decisions as a child can have real, life altering, adult consequences. There are nearly 3,000 incarcerated persons serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed as youth. When we hear “life without parole,” this means that no matter how good the behavior of the incarcerated person, and regardless of whether he or she becomes rehabilitated or educated, that person will stay in prison for the duration of his or her life without exception.

This controversial practice was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in 2012, in a landmark case titled Miller v. Alabama. This case held that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional. Read that carefully: the court decision does not mean that juveniles cannot be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. It simply means that this cannot be a mandatory sentence, i.e., the court must consider the unique characteristics of the offender and any special circumstances before handing out such a sentence.

Juvenile Criminals in Illinois

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