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Similarities and Differences between Juvenile and Adult Court

Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County family law attorneys, juvenile and adult courtWhen a minor is accused of committing a crime, he or she can be tried in juvenile court as opposed to adult court. However, the need for skilled legal representation remains the same regardless of what court the child is tried in, and the consequences of a juvenile court conviction can be impactful on the child. Therefore, it is important to know the similarities and differences between juvenile and adult court in Illinois. 

Common Types of Juvenile Crimes 

What many people consider to be minor crimes can be tried in juvenile court if a child is still a minor; however, convictions can create serious consequences for his or her education, employment, housing, and other opportunities.

Under the law, being a minor means that a child is under 18 years old for the purposes of juvenile court. Some of the most common types of juvenile crimes include: 

  • Speeding;

  • Traffic offenses;

  • Underage drinking;

  • Vandalism;

  • Curfew violations;

  • Truancy; and

  • Theft. 

Similarities in the Systems

There are several similarities between the adult and juvenile court systems, particularly in the rights that are afforded to a minor during the course of the proceedings. A minor has the right to an attorney, the right to examine and cross examine witnesses, and can assert the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. In addition, a minor in juvenile court is required by law to have notice of the charges being brought against him or her and the prosecution must still prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the minor committed the accused crime.

Differences in the Systems 

However, there are also many differences between the adult and juvenile court systems. First, a juvenile is prosecuted for “delinquent acts” and not for committing a crime. Hence, the vast majority of cases seen in juvenile court are considered minor offenses. If the alleged acts are serious enough, then the minor may be tried as an adult for committing crimes in the adult system.

Furthermore, in juvenile court, a minor does not have the right to trial by jury. If a juvenile is charged with committing a delinquent act, a bench hearing is conducted for adjudication purposes—all evidence is presented by the prosecution and the minor regarding the alleged crime. If a judge finds that the minor is guilty, then the case moves to the sentencing phase. Another difference between the adult and juvenile systems is that the purpose of sentencing is rehabilitation in the minor’s best interest and not for the purposes of punishment. Typically, the sentence involves some type of social justice benefit, such as community service, or some type of therapy if the minor is in need of it. 

Finally, the juvenile court system is typically a little more relaxed than the adult system. The rules of evidence, examining and cross examining witnesses, and the like do not need to be strictly adhered to in the code of civil procedure. A judge makes decisions on whether evidence that is on this boundary will be allowed, since the judge is the only person making the final decision regarding the outcome of the case.

Contact Our Office Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime and is set to be tried in juvenile court in Chicago or the western suburbs, our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys at the Davi Law Group, LLC are here to help. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.

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