Crimes Committed by Minors
Even though they cannot yet vote, many people under the age of 18 participate in our society nearly as much as adults. We let teenagers have jobs and drive cars, and we expect them to behave responsibly when they act independently. Sometimes, however, we are reminded of their youth. When a minor is charged with a crime, the situation can rapidly become more complicated.
At one time, there was no distinction between adults and children in the courts. All cases went to the same place, and the same laws applied. Illinois was the first state to establish a separate court for minors in 1899, and other states soon followed. Although the practice is very controversial, it is still not rare to see minors tried as adults.
Trial as an adult means being subject to the same laws and punishments that adults face, including time behind bars. Sentences in juvenile courts tend to be less harsh, and the institutions they are sent to focus more on rehabilitation and skills for transitioning into the world. Nonetheless, many young people who are released from these institutions fall back into the prison system.
A minor who has been accused of a crime needs effective and committed legal counsel. Being convicted of a criminal offense or harshly penalized at a young age can have consequences that will affect the rest of a person’s life.
Minors who have been charged with a criminal offense stand to lose as much as adults, especially if they are tried in an adult court. But with the help of an experienced Champaign criminal defense attorney, you can defend yourself or someone you love from unjust accusations.