Waukegan Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

Juvenile Criminal Defense


With passage of the Juvenile Court Act in 1899, Illinois become the first state in the United States to establish a Juvenile Court, thereby shifting the focus of the law away from punishment and towards rehabilitation and reform. And it is with this goal in mind that the Law Offices of Winer & Winer represents minors in Juvenile Court.

While there are many similarities with adult system, minors charged with criminal offenses in Juvenile Court will face critical differences in the applicable laws and procedures. For this reason, it is important that an accused minor’s attorney be experienced not just in criminal matters generally, but with juvenile law and the legal procedures of Juvenile Court. With over 80 years of combined experience in representing minors in Juvenile Court, you can be confident that with representation by Law Office of Winer & Winer your we have the skill and expertise and skill to handle even the most complex matters in Juvenile Court. It is our goal to not only to zealously defend minors accused of criminal offenses, but to be sure that mistakes made at a young age do not become an impediment to a promising future.

Consequences of Juvenile Court

Under the Juvenile Court Act, the rehabilitation of minors is emphasized over punishment. Yet times have changed, and we now see juveniles charged with offenses which were very rare when Juvenile Court first began. As a result, the laws have also changed, and minors charged with certain violent offenses can have their cases transferred to the adult system This can happen through operation of law, through an “automatic transfer” or after a “transfer hearing” where the prosecution attempts to convince the judge that the case belongs in the adult system. And even with cases that are heard exclusively in Juvenile Court, the results can be damaging to a child’s future. For instance, a first conviction on a drug charge can cause a minor to be ineligible for student loans, aid and grants. One particularly damaging consequence for juveniles found guilty of certain sex offenses is they must register as a sex offender just like adult cases. Needless to say, public knowledge of a sex offense can have a devastating impact on a child’s future. It is therefore more important than ever for a minor to be represented by attorneys that are highly experienced juvenile law attorneys. Nothing less than your child’s future may depend on it.

Juvenile Defense Lawyer Required in Illinois

Unlike an adult charged with an offense, a minor charged with an offense under the Juvenile Court Act may not represent him or herself pro bono. In other words, the minor must be represented by counsel. This is true regardless of the seriousness of the offense. It is therefore very important to have attorneys that are familiar with the intricacies of juvenile law and the unique legal procedures of Juvenile Court. With over 80 years of combined experienced representing minors in Juvenile Court, you can be confident that with representation by the Law Offices of Winer & Winer your child will be get the best possible representation. We understand the profound impact a Juvenile Court case can have on a child’s future, and we will do our utmost to protect the minor’s rights and safeguard his or her future.

Juvenile Rights

With certain exceptions, both the Illinois and the U.S. Constitution afford minors in Juvenile Court the same rights and protections as adults. Such rights include the Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure, and therefore evidence shown to be gathered in unlawfully cannot be used at trial. Moreover, the minor is afforded the right against self-incrimination – the right to remain silent – under the Fifth Amendment. Furthermore, the minor has the right to have an attorney present during questioning. The Juvenile Court Act supplies additional right, including the right to have the police make a reasonable attempt to contact a parent or a legal guardian when a juvenile is arrested or detained.

You can be confident that the Law Offices of Winer & Winer we will vigorously protect your child’s rights. And since it is required that the right to silence be invoked before questioning, it is important to contact the Law Offices of Winer & Winer as soon as you learn your child has been detained by police. And even if your child has yet to be detained, but you believe he or she may be suspected of a crime, it is important to contact us as soon as possible.

Rights of Parents

The parent or guardians of a minor has rights as well. These rights include:

  • The right to be present with your child during questioning
  • The right to know why your child was arrested or detained
  • The right to have an attorney present with your child.

If your child is arrested or detained, it is important not to contact the Law Offices of Winer & Winer as soon as possible. You should also go to the police station where your child is being held as soon as possible and request to be present during any questioning. Keep in mind a parent can request to see their child at any time when the child is in police custody.

Arrest of a Juvenile

After a juvenile is arrested or taken into custody, Illinois law requires the police officer to take the juvenile to a police officer trained in handling juvenile arrestees. After a juvenile is arrested, a number of different scenarios can occur, depending on the juvenile and the crime charged. The police can formally charge the juvenile or decide to place the juvenile in a diversion program, such as a “station adjustment.”

Station Adjustment

A Station Adjustment is an alternative to charging a minor with a crime, and can result in the avoidance of prosecution. In such a situation, the police will release the juvenile to a parent under certain conditions. These conditions may include the imposition of a curfew, attending school, prohibiting from socializing or associating with co-offenders, substance abuse counseling and community service. The length of these conditions is not to last more than 120 days, but can be extended if the minor commits another offense or fails to abide by the terms and conditions of the station adjustment itself. However, the maximum length is 180 days. Keep in mind, the police can choose not to merely extend the period of the station adjustment, but can refer the matter to Juvenile Court if the minor does not comply with the conditions or is accused of committing a new offense.

There are two types of station adjustments exist: formal and adjustments. An informal station adjustment does not require the juvenile arrestee to admit guilt of the crime. A formal station adjustment requires that the juvenile admit to guilt. A juvenile is allowed three informal station adjustments for misdemeanors and three for felonies. However, a juvenile may not have more than five informal adjustments within a three-year period.

A minor is entitled to have counsel present during the station adjustment process. So please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Winer & Winer to assist the minor through this process.

Delinquency Petition

Once the police make the decision to charge the minor with an offense, the matter will be referred the prosecutor’s office for an additional review. The prosecutor, known in Illinois as the State’s Attorney, will review the case and decide whether to proceed formally or informally with the charges. If a decision is made to proceed formally, a Delinquency Petition will be filed, and the case will proceed in Juvenile Court. A Delinquency Petition is the formal charging document and will list the offenses being charged along with a brief description of the fact alleged to justify the charges.

If on the other hand the State’s Attorney decides to proceed informally, a conference will be arranged with minor, his parents and often a representative of the Juvenile Probation Department. At this conference the minor will be offered the opportunity to avoid formal charges be filed is he or she agrees to abide by certain condition similar to those at a station adjustment. These conditions may include a curfew, regular school attendance, completed community service hours, attending counseling, going to a program designed to benefit juveniles and to not commit any new offenses. If these conditions are met and the minor is otherwise cooperative, the State’s Attorney can decide not to seek formal charges and the matter ultimately dismissed. Keep in mind there is no lawful bar to re-filing charges if the minor commits a new offense.

Detention Hearing/Release and Summons

In cases where a station adjustment is not offered, an initial screening will take place to determine whether to seek detention or release the minor to his or her parent or guardian. If the decision is to seek detention, a minor must within be brought before a judge for a Detention Hearing within forty hours of arrest. At this hearing the judge will determine whether there is “Urgent and Immediate Necessity” to detain the minor or to release him or her and under what conditions. And unlike an adult case, there is no possibility of posting bond for juvenile held in detention. If the court determines that a minor is to be held, the minor will stay in custody during the entire pendency of the case. If this is the case, we will seek to have the issue of detention reviewed by the court as soon as possible to seek release of the minor. We strongly suggest contacting us at the Law Offices of Winer & Winer as soon as possible upon a minor’s arrest so that we can be present during the Detention Hearing, or in cases where the minor is held, to have the detention reviewed again by the court.

Pre-Trial and Adjudicatory Hearings

Most cases in Juvenile Court, as in adult court, are resolved without a trial. In fact, statistics show over 90% of cases are resolved without a trial. In such cases, the charges are dismissed or the minor, through his or her attorney, enters into plea negotiations with the prosecutor. This results in an agreed upon sentence conditioned upon acceptance of the judge. This is the likely course of a case if the evidence against the minor is strong and there is a likelihood that the juvenile will be found guilty at trial. At the Law Offices of Winer & Winer, we are highly skilled at plea negotiations and will to our utmost to ensure the minor receives the best possible outcome. Keep in mind that in juvenile cas.es, a report known as a Social Investigation must be presented before any sentence can be imposed. Prepared by the Juvenile Probation Office, the report will give the court a comprehensive review of the minor’s background, including family, school and criminal history, if any. The Probation Department will also make a recommendation with respect to the sentence, a recommendation that is taken very seriously by the judge.

If the case proceeds to trial, known as an “adjudicatory hearing, the minor is presumed to be not guilty. At a trial it is responsibility of the prosecutor to attempt to prove the minor guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest burden in law. Moreover, all the trial rights guarantee by the Constitution are afforded except for one very right – the right to a jury trial. Unlike an adult case, a juvenile is not entitled to a jury trial except in very rare circumstances. Instead the case will be heard by a single judge in what is known as “bench trial.” This is the concession made by a minor to have a case heard in Juvenile Court, where the case is not open to the public. Only law enforcement agencies and the court system can be privy to a Juvenile Court case.

At mentioned, a judge will preside over the trial and the prosecutor will try to prove the allegations against the minor. Defense counsel will have an opportunity to provide a defense including questions and cross-examining the witness and presented witnesses and evidence in the minor’s defense. If after listening the all the evidence the judge finds that the prosecution has met it’s burden the minor will be found guilty and will be deemed a “delinquent minor.” If on the other hand the judge finds that the State has not met its burden, in other words there is “reasonable doubt,” the judge will find the minor “not guilty” and the case dismissed.


After an adjudication hearing where the minor is found guilty, or after a negotiated plea of guilty, the case proceeds to a sentencing hearing. As previously mentioned, a Social Investigation report must be prepared before the judge can sentence the minor. This report examines a juvenile’s background and assists the judge in determining an appropriate sentence. Information contained in the report addresses family background, mental and physical health assessments, social habits, and a criminal history.

When the judge is prepared to deliver a sentence, depending on the crime, the judge can sentence the child to:

  • Supervision (which is not a conviction and is immediately subject to expungement)
  • Probation
  • Conditional Discharge
  • Intensive probation supervision
  • Residential Placement
  • Juvenile detention (not to exceed thirty days)
  • Juvenile Justice Center (juvenile prison).

Supervision: For juveniles with no or very little criminal history, the judge may agree to place the child on supervision. In the juvenile justice system, supervision is a form of deferred prosecution. Supervision is a way for the court to monitor the juvenile without the child receiving a conviction on their juvenile history. If the juvenile completes the conditions of the supervision, the juvenile will not be adjudicated delinquent. If the juvenile fails to comply with the conditions, the judge will then sentence the juvenile. Note: not all crimes are eligible for supervision.

Probation: If the juvenile is placed on probation, he/she will be free from custody, but must comply with all conditions of the probation. Probation typically lasts between 12 and 24 months, and is considered a conviction. Some common conditions are community service, mental health or substance abuse treatment, random drug tests, restitution for property damage, curfew hours, orders to stay away from gang members, etc. Along with these conditions, the juvenile will be required to report to and maintain contact with a probation officer.
Intensive Probation Supervision (IPS): IPS is similar to probation but with stricter guidelines, such as more frequent reporting to a probation officer, stricter curfews, more frequent drug testing, or electronic monitoring.

Conditional Discharge: Conditional discharge is similar to probation, but allows the defendant to comply with the conditions of the sentence without reporting to a probation officer.

Residential Placement: If sentenced to a residential treatment center, the juvenile will be placed in either an outpatient or inpatient center. An outpatient center will allow the juvenile to reside at home, while the inpatient center will require the juvenile to stay at the center. At the center, the juvenile will receive mental health treatment and, if necessary, substance abuse treatment.

Juvenile Detention: The judge can sentence the minor to a term in the Juvenile Detention Center, the Hulse Center in Lake County, for a period not to exceed thirty days.

Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice: A sentence to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Center, known as Illinois Youth Centers, is the most serious sentence Juvenile Court can impose and is typically reserved for the most serious offenses or repeat offenders. While the sentence is indeterminate, meaning an exact period of time is not imposed, the length of the sentence cannot exceed what could be served if it were an adult case. For example, if the case is a Class 4 Felony, the minor cannot serve more than three years in juvenile prison. In reality the length of the sentence is typically much shorter as the Illinois Department of Juvenile Center follows guideline depending on the type of offense committed. In any case, the minor cannot be held past his or her 21st birthday. There are eight centers located throughout Illinois and are comprised of minimum, medium or maximum security. Visitation is permitted.

For information about the Depke Juvenille Complex Center, the Lake County Circuit Court Juvenile Division, TAP HERE

Expunging a Juvenile Record

Juvenile Court Expungement is a court process that forces the police and court system to keep juvenile criminal record from public view, including from most employers. However, to have your record expunged you must file a Petition to Expunge with the court and appear before a judge for a hearing. At the Law Offices of Winer & Winer we have a great deal of experienced in handling juvenile expungement petitions and would be happy to put our experience to work on your behalf. We have also been successful in early terminating Sex Offender Registration on cases where the registration was required because of a Juvenile Court case.

Tap here to learn much more about expunging a juvenile record.

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