How Do Juvenile Proceedings Differ from Adult Proceedings?

February 12, 2020

When minors commit crimes, they’re often referred to juvenile court. While the sentences may not be as severe as those adults might serve, it’s still a court of law. Even children need the help of experienced criminal defense attorneys, particularly because any conviction can have a lasting impact on a minor’s life—sometimes following them into adulthood.

If you need a juvenile defense attorney in Rockford, IL to provide legal representation for your child, be sure to call the Law Office of Brendan W. Caver, Ltd. for representation. Hiring an attorney is necessary for protecting your child’s rights.

Here is an overview of what to expect in juvenile vs. adult criminal proceedings.

Similarities between juvenile and adult proceedings

There are some key similarities between the two levels of legal proceedings. First, the accused is entitled to an attorney. Second, the defendant has the right to assert their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and can cross-examine prosecution witnesses and call their own. The prosecution must notify the accused of the charges being brought, and the standard of evidence is still “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the highest legal evidentiary standard to overcome.

Differences in juvenile proceedings

Juvenile law has far more differences than adult criminal proceedings, however. First of all, the accused isn’t charged with committing a crime—instead, they’re charged with a “delinquent act,” unless the crime is so severe that they can be tried in adult court.

Proceedings usually happen via bench trial instead of trial by jury. Bench trials have only a judge presiding over the attorneys, witnesses and courtroom staff; the judge hears the evidence and renders the verdict instead of allowing a jury to do so. In fact, a minor does not have the right to a trial by jury unless they are being tried as an adult.

Evidentiary standards in juvenile court are somewhat more relaxed than adult court. Whereas in the adult system the rules must be strictly adhered to, cross-examination and exhibits, for example, don’t require the same procedural standards in juvenile court.

Sentencing, too, is less severe. In juvenile court, the idea is to give the minor consequences that will be to their benefit. This could mean getting them mental health support, assigning them to community service hours or therapeutic assistance.

This does not mean you shouldn’t take juvenile court seriously, however—your minor child is still subject to serious consequences, and you need an experienced attorney to help ensure that justice is served.

Juvenile law in Rockford, IL

When your child has been accused of a crime, there’s no time to waste—you need to call an experienced juvenile defense attorney in Rockford, IL immediately. The Law Office of Brendan W. Caver, Ltd. is ready to help for all of your juvenile legal needs. With over a decade of experience handling juvenile proceedings, Brendan Caver can help your family navigate this stressful time. Call today to arrange a consultation and to discuss the next steps for your case. We look forward to working with you soon.

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