The Juvenile Prosecution Unit handles criminal cases filed against individuals between 10 and 17 years old. If a child under the age of 10 commits a crime, he or she may be referred to the Juvenile Assessment Center for further intervention.

If a person is 18 or older, he or she is legally considered to be an adult.

The juvenile justice process differs from the adult criminal process in a number of ways. While the adult criminal justice system is designed to be punitive, the juvenile process focuses on the best interest of the child.

  1. ARREST: When a juvenile is arrested for a delinquent act a risk assessment is prepared to determine whether a child shall be held at home or secured at the Juvenile Detention Center.
  2.  DETENTION HEARING: Depending on the offense, the juvenile may be required to appear at a detention hearing to determine whether he should be held on a detention status.
  3. CHARGE: The State Attorney’s Office has 21 days to charge the juvenile. (Charges may still be filed at a later date if new information or evidence is developed).  If charges are filed, a copy of the charges is given to the juvenile and the juvenile is given a status hearing date or a preliminary hearing date.
  4. TRIAL DATE: The State has 90 days to go to trial unless extended by the court.

When a case involves allegations of an extremely serious nature, and the juvenile is 14 years old or older, the State Attorney may consider directly filing charges against the juvenile as an adult into Circuit Court. This means the juvenile could face adult penalties.

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