When a juvenile is arrested he or she is automatically placed in the juvenile court system. They will be taken to the juvenile detention center which is run by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and the case is scheduled before a judge in the juvenile division. However, depending upon your child’s age, the severity of the crime, and his or her arrest history, the State Attorney is authorized to treat your son or daughter as an adult.
There are two ways to move the case to adult court. Depending upon the severity of the crime, the age of your child and the arrest history of your child the State Attorney may file directly a charging document in the adult division of the circuit court and your child’s case will be transferred to that division. Otherwise, the State Attorney’s Office can petition the juvenile judge to transfer the case to the adult division based on the factors outlined above and other factors which may make it less desirable for your child to remain within the juvenile court system. Regardless of which method is used by the government to move your child’s case from juvenile court, once your child is being treated as an adult for purposes of the criminal court system, he will be treated as an adult for all purposes.
Because of the serious potential of your child being treated as an adult it is very important that you discuss that possibility with a criminal attorney before the matter goes to court. A criminal lawyer can perform an important service in bringing to the State Attorney’s attention to any factors that make it inappropriate to move the case out of juvenile court. This action will keep your son or daughter from having a criminal record because juvenile cases are confidential and if found guilty, your child will not be “convicted” but instead be found to have committed an act of delinquency.