In 1899, Illinois was the first state to do something that no other state had done before -- create a juvenile justice system. Prior to then, juveniles were tried in adult court and were treated as adults were. Illinois lawmakers realized that juveniles had different needs and abilities than adults did and that a separate court and justice system was necessary. The juvenile justice system emphasizes the importance of rehabilitating and protecting youth after they commit a crime -- not punishing them. The juvenile justice system also awards certain rights to both children and their parents or guardians when they are in trouble with the law. Many people may not know about these rights, but it is important that you exercise those rights if your child has gotten into trouble.
Rights of Juvenile Offenders
Every person is guaranteed certain rights by the United States Constitution, but juveniles have special, additional rights because they are a part of the juvenile justice system. Rights that juveniles have include:
- Right to Remain Silent: Like all other American citizens, children who are arrested and interrogated by police have the right to remain silent. They must be notified of this right before any interrogation begins. This is known as the right against self-incrimination.
- Right to Legal Representation: Another one of the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, children have a right to be represented by a lawyer during the criminal process. If you do not have the means to hire a private lawyer, a public defender who is knowledgeable about juvenile justice will be appointed to your child.
- Right to Talk to a Parent or Guardian: Before your child submits to any questioning, they should inform the officer that they would like you to be present during questioning. Police must immediately try to contact you.
- Right to Know the Charges Against Them: Police are required to tell your child what charges are being held against them and why police believe they committed a crime.
Rights of Parents
Parents also have rights when their child is arrested. These rights include:...