When Might Illinois Charge a Juvenile Offender as an Adult?

Finding out your child is facing a criminal charge may have you feeling anxious, and your feelings may have merit. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your son or daughter’s arrest and charge, a conviction could hinder future educational or career prospects and more.

Per the Illinois State Bar Association, the severity of the penalties your child may face after a criminal conviction depends to some degree on whether he or she faces charges as a juvenile or an adult. As you might imagine, adult crimes typically carry harsher penalties than juvenile offenses. Whether your child faces a juvenile or adult charge depends on certain factors.

What determines juvenile or adult charges

Several factors help determine if your son or daughter receives a juvenile or adult criminal charge. Your child’s age is one important variable, and the severity of the charge he or she faces is another. His or her mental capacity may also come into play. In 2016, the Illinois Legislature made additional stipulations about when children and teens of a certain age may face juvenile or adult charges.

What the law change means

The 2016 law change dictates that your child, if at least 16, may undergo prosecution in adult court if he or she faces one of several serious criminal charges. For example, if your son or daughter is at least 16 and facing a charge of murder, sexual assault or aggravated battery involving a gun, expect him or her to have to go to adult court.

If a juvenile who undergoes prosecution in adult court winds up with a jail or prison sentence, he or she must serve that sentence in an adult jail or prison.