Chicago Juvenile Property Crimes Lawyers
If your minor child was arrested for a property crime in Chicago, contact an experienced juvenile offense attorney right away for aggressive and knowledgeable representation. We are committed to protecting your child and helping to secure the best possible outcome for their case. To us, this means getting the charges dropped or reduced and limiting the impact these allegations will have on your family and their future.
The juvenile justice system focuses on the rehabilitation of young individuals facing criminal charges. Juvenile offenders should receive the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and move past them. Therefore, if your child was arrested for stealing or any other property charge, it is to your advantage to hire an experienced Chicago property crime by a minor attorney with Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC who can help ensure that this lapse in judgment doesn't do any lasting damage to your child's future. Call our experienced lawyers at (800) 996-4824 to discuss the specifics of your child's case today.
Types of Property Crimes That Minors Could Be Charged With
There are many criminal charges that fall under the category of "offenses against property," under Illinois law (720 ILCS 5 / Criminal Code of 2012) including:
- Arson: When a person uses fire or an explosive device to damage someone else’s real or personal property without that person’s consent.
- Aggravated Arson: The act of committing arson while knowingly damaging, partially or entirely, any building or structure, including any adjacent building or structure, such as part or all of a school building, watercraft, house trailer, motor vehicle, or railroad car. Aggravated arson is charged when the alleged perpetrator either knew or should have known that another individual was present inside the burned structure or if someone suffered severe bodily injury.
- Theft: When a person obtains or exerts unauthorized control over someone else's property, deceptively obtains control over someone else's property, knowingly obtains control over stolen property or obtains or exerts control over property in custody of a law enforcement agency.
- Retail Theft: Retail theft, also known as shoplifting, occurs when an individual intentionally takes merchandise to deprive the seller of its full or partial value. For example, altering price tags, hiding merchandise, or using a device that protects products from security measures can all be considered retail theft.
- Destruction of property: Children are commonly accused of damaging property using fire, explosives, or offensive smells. Other destruction of property allegations children and teens often face include injuring pets and damaging fire hydrants.
- Burglary: Entering a building, structure, or vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or theft. That includes aircraft, watercraft, and railway cars.
- Fraud and identity theft: Specific situations could qualify as property crimes under Illinois Law, such as committing arson to defraud the insurer.
When a juvenile commits any of the crimes above, it’s considered a property crime and is punishable under Illinois laws. Whether the offense qualifies as a misdemeanor or felony is generally dependent on three factors: the value of the property involved, if the crime involved violence, and if any victims were injured. As a juvenile, the law handles these cases somewhat differently, and the decision about whether to prosecute the offender as a juvenile or as an adult is a different consideration entirely.
If a person age 17 or under is charged with a misdemeanor, then they typically are charged as a juvenile, whereas a 17 year old charged with a felony will be charged as an adult.
What Rights Does My Child Have After Being Arrested?
Under the U.S. Constitution and Illinois Constitution, juveniles receive the same rights as adults. They are free from unreasonable searches and seizures and possess protections against self-incrimination. They also have the right to refuse to answer questions when they're arrested or detained, as well as the right to request that their attorney or legal guardian be present during any questioning. Police are required to make a reasonable effort to contact the parent or legal guardian after an arrest or detainment.
As a parent or legal guardian, you also have specific rights. The three rights afforded to you if your child gets arrested or detained are the following:
- The right to be request to be present during custody;
- The right to know why your child was arrested or detained; and
- The right to request an attorney be present with your child.
My Child Was Just Arrested. What Should I Expect to Happen Next?
Once a minor is arrested or taken into custody, the police officer is required to find an officer trained in handling juvenile arrestees. That officer will either formally charge the child or place them in a diversion program. A diversion program is an alternate decision to officially charging them for the crime. He or she will get released into their parent's custody and must comply with any number of requirements, such as curfews, refraining from associating with gang members, undergoing drug or alcohol counseling, etc. The term of diversion may not last longer than 120 days unless the individual commits another crime, in which case the time could get extended, but for no longer than 180 days.
There are two types of diversion programs recommended by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission: formal adjustment and informal adjustment. A formal adjustment requires the child to admit to guilt, while the informal adjustment does not require an admission of guilt. In the state of Illinois, an individual under the age of 18 is allowed three informal adjustments for misdemeanors and three for felonies. A maximum of five informal adjustments is allowed within three years.
If the officer decides to arrest a child and formally press charges, he or she will undergo a screening that determines whether to detain the minor or release to the parents. Within 40 hours of being arrested, a detention hearing must be allowed for the juvenile to stand before a judge, who will rule whether to keep them in detention or release them to their parents.
What Happens If My Child Is Charged?
If the officer decides to charge your child, the case immediately goes to the state’s attorney. They will then decide whether to proceed with a formal or informal charge. If there's a formal charge, the state’s attorney will file a delinquency petition, requiring the case to move to the juvenile court. If your child doesn't receive a formal charge, the state’s attorney dismisses the case as long as he or she complies with specified conditions.
If the minor is formally charged, he or she has the right to plead either guilty or not guilty. Just as in an adult proceeding, if there’s strong evidence against the minor that may support a finding of guilty after trial, the minor and his attorney may choose to pursue plea negotiations for an agreement with the prosecutor rather than proceeding to a trial and placing the decision and sentencing solely in the judge’s hands.
If the case proceeds to trial, there will be an adjudicatory hearing (trial), where the matter is argued in court, but instead of a jury trial, the judge will always make the final decision, as minors do not have a constitutional right to a jury trial. Much like an adult trial, in a juvenile trial, the State must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”, although there are some proceedings where the burden of proof is “a preponderance of evidence”. That means if the judge does not find that the State has proven that the minor committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, then the verdict must be not guilty.
Penalties for Crimes Committed by a Minor
Whether your son or daughter is treated as a juvenile or adult is entirely dependent on the court's determination, according to 705 ILCS 405/5-130. The court will consider:
- The minor's age
- Any previous criminal history
- Any previous abuse or history of neglect
- Any mental health or educational history
- Whether the charge can be supported with probable cause, whether the minor can be held accountable for their actions, and whether the minor posessed a deadly weapon or caused anyone serious harm while committing the offense.
There are a wide range of sentences and dispositions available in the juvenile court for minor who have been found guilty or plead guilty to criminal charges which may include:
- Restitution: Money paid to the property owner for repairs and replacements to the damaged property.
- Probation: A period in which specific tasks must be completed, such as staying in school, meeting with counselors, and refraining from committing other offenses.
- Continuance under supervision: Minor must follow court requirements during this period and if successful, he or she will not be adjudicated as delinquent and sentenced.
- Intensive probation supervision (IPS): This allows for the conditional release of a minor under strict probation requirements.
- Conditional discharge: Allows the minor to comply with specific requirements of the court without the necessity of reporting to a probation officer.
- Periodic imprisonment: Allows the minor to continue to pursue work or school but report to a county detention center at night or on weekends.
- Diversion: Program in which your child must comply with specified terms. The prosecutor agrees to drop all charges upon successful completion. This punishment is only allowable for first-time offenders that resulted in minimal damage.
- Detention: Full-time detainment, weekend stays, or transfer to a supervised juvenile home.
For a parent, finding out that your child has been accused of a crime can be a daunting, stressful experience. Having an ally in the legal system can help ensure that your child doesn't have to live with this mistake for the rest of their life.
Call Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC to Speak With An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
The Chicago juvenile defense lawyers of Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC strive to maintain the superior reputation we’ve built since opening our offices three decades ago. Martindale-Hubbell awarded us with the highest possible rating of “AV Preeminent”. We’ve also received recognition by several esteemed organizations, such as National Trial Lawyers Top 100, Best Attorneys of America, and Who’s Who in American Law.
We believe in providing quality customer service for our clients at all times. When you hire us, we will be by your side every step of the way. Our law office is available 24/7 through our Live Chat feature, so you can reach us when you need us. Everyone you speak with at our firm will treat you with respect and professionalism. You can depend on us to provide your child with a superior defense and to provide you with the support you need.
If your son or daughter was arrested or charged for a property crime, call us at (312) 644-0444 immediately. The sooner you seek representation, the better. We know how devastating this kind of situation is for you and your family. You might not know what to do or how to get through the legal process, but out Chicago juvenile defense lawyers will guide you through each step and answer all of your questions. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients. You won’t have to worry about paying any upfront costs to meet with us and discuss the basic details of the case. We’ll happily meet with you and determine your best options for moving forward. Call (312) 644-0444 today.