A juvenile is anyone who is younger than the statutory age of majority. What is the age of majority? This is considered the point in a person’s life when they are no longer considered a child, but an adult. Throughout the United States, this age is 18 although some laws in various states set different age restrictions on certain acts. When it comes to criminal acts, those under the age of 18 are tried in juvenile court, although in some scenarios those who are still considered juveniles may be prosecuted in adult court. The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice handles juvenile crimes and there are eight total institutions labeled “Illinois Youth Centers.” If a juvenile is convicted in the Chicago area, they could be sent to the Illinois Youth Center Chicago which houses approximately 100 youth.

Juveniles are treated differently than those over the age of 18 when it comes to criminal offenses primarily because minors are not typically viewed as having criminal intent. Minors are still heavily impressionable, which is why juvenile courts and detention centers are primarily aimed at rehabilitating the youth. Nonetheless, a juvenile criminal conviction can drastically affect future opportunities, which is why it is vital to fight these charges. If your child has been arrested for a crime and they are under the age of 18, please contact a Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Okabe & Haushalter.


When a minor is alleged of a serious offense such as a federal crime or a violent felony, they may be prosecuted as an adult. The penalties are harsher and the sentences can be longer and stricter for adults. According to an article from The New York Times, 14 to 17-year-olds who are arrested for homicides has more than tripled within the past ten years as well as a stark increase in a number of other violent crimes committed by juveniles. While juvenile arrests for serious offenses has increased over the past decade, imprisonment in juvenile facilities has not increased at the same rate. This indicates that there are many juveniles being prosecuted as adults. In any scenario, the prosecutor or intake officer has the right to file a waiver if they believe the case would more appropriately be handled in criminal court.


Unfortunately, prosecuting juveniles as adults may have a negative effect on these youths. By prematurely pushing underage children into the adult criminal system, there may be an increased likelihood of repeat offenses. How will you know if your juvenile’s case will be handled in adult or juvenile court? Many variables make this a case-by-case scenario. If an individual under the age of 18 is arrested, law enforcement will decide whether to dismiss the case, informally handle the case or refer the case to juvenile court.

The decision will be based upon factors such as prior offenses, the juvenile’s compliance with law enforcement and the facts of the case. While the case is being processed, the juvenile could be held at a youth detention facility until the time of their hearing. Typically, these hearings take place within 24 hours of the arrest. Due to the sensitivity of these cases, it would be best to speak with a defense attorney about your options. We are Chicago’s premier criminal defense firm and we provide representation to those under the age of 18 who have been arrested for all types of criminal offenses. To secure a free evaluation of your case by one of our skilled attorneys, call today.

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