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What Are a Juvenile’s Rights After Being Arrested in Illinois?When a juvenile in Illinois is accused of committing a crime, they often face a different justice system than adults. The Illinois Juvenile Justice System calls juveniles “delinquent minors” instead of criminals. The juvenile court places greater importance on rehabilitating the juvenile than punishing them. It is easier to expunge a juvenile’s arrest and criminal records than it is for adults. Knowing all of this, your child is better off in a juvenile court than an adult criminal court if they are arrested. How does Illinois determine whether a case belongs in juvenile court? What are a juvenile’s rights during the arrest? These are important things to know if your child has been charged with a crime.

Juvenile Court Requirements

The age of the defendant and the nature of the criminal charge will decide whether a person is tried as a juvenile or an adult. In Illinois, a defendant is tried as a juvenile if:

  • They are 17 or younger and were charged with a misdemeanor
  • They are 16 or younger and were charged with a felony

Illinois will use the age the defendant was when they allegedly committed the offense, not their age at the time of the trial. Once a case has been heard in juvenile court, the court can continue jurisdiction over the case until the defendant is 21.

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Illinois Inconsistently Applies Juvenile Detention PolicyIllinois has amended its juvenile crime laws in recent years to try to reduce the lasting damage that the justice system can cause. It is more difficult for the state to try a juvenile as an adult and easier for juvenile offenders to seal or clear their records. However, the use of detention centers is still negatively affecting some juveniles. Even police detention after an arrest can psychologically damage a child. Juvenile advocates are challenging the detention system, saying that detention centers do not meet the goal of rehabilitating the children.

Statistics Suggest Harm

Studies of people who served time in a juvenile detention facility as children show that the use of detention facilities often correlates with:

  • Lower high school graduation rates;
  • Lower rates of employment and income potential;
  • Higher occurrences of mental illness; and
  • Greater likelihood of becoming a repeat offender.

Other studies have concluded that areas that more often offer alternatives to juvenile detention have lower rates of juvenile crime.

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