Your child’s rights as a juvenile in a criminal court

Facing a criminal charge as a juvenile is often extremely scary. If might even be more so for you, as a parent. In general, the criminal justice system in Illinois, like with most other states, can seem complex and hard to understand. The same is true for the juvenile justice system.

If your child has a charge for criminal conduct, such as drug possession, you might be tempted to find out everything you can about the justice system and what you can expect. The first place to start is by researching what rights your child has as a juvenile.

Right of notification

If your child is facing criminal charges, he or she has the right to receive notification from the Cook County court about those charges. In addition, your child has the right to attend any court proceedings that relate to the charges.

Right to an attorney

Just like with an adult, your child has the right to legal representation. Furthermore, as a juvenile, your child cannot represent him- or herself in court and must have an attorney.

Right to remain silent

It is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove that your child is guilty and not your child’s responsibility to prove innocence. This means that your son or daughter has the right to remain silent and not make any statements to the police or officer of the court indicating either innocence or guilt.

Right to a trial

Your child has the right to a trial or hearing that includes your attorney cross-examining witnesses.

Right to be heard

Another right your underage child has is to argue the case and present evidence. He or she can subpoena witnesses to testify.

Right to court records

Your child and his or her attorney have the right to access court records that pertain to the case. For example, if the prosecution has certain documents that they are entering into evidence, you have the right to examine those records.

Right to an interpreter

If your child needs an interpreter, the court must provide one since your son or daughter has the right to understand everything that is happening during the process.

If your child is facing criminal charges, it is vital that you understand his or her rights. By familiarizing yourself with the juvenile rights listed above, you can better protect your son or daughter as the case moves through the juvenile court process.