Defense attorney explains procedure to try a juvenile as an adult

Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 7:39 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PEORIA (25News Now) - A 16-year-old arrested Wednesday is now facing adult charges. The situation raises questions about the juvenile justice system after the no-cash bail took full effect in September.

The Director of Probation and Court Services in Peoria County, Brian Brown, told 25 News that juveniles have never had an option for bail, so the new law under the SAFE-T Act only applies to individuals in the adult court system.

Youth Defense Attorney and Advocate Patrick Keenan-Devlin says juveniles like Jimichael Brown, who are facing adult charges, are bound under Pre-Trial Fairness.

“The adult court judge that would be overseeing those excluded jurisdiction or automatic transfer petitions in the adult system would be bound by the new SAFE-T Act,” Keenan-Devlin said.

Keenan-Devlin adds the ‘urgent and immediate necessity standards’ that a juvenile court judge considers are similar to parts of the no-cash bail system when it comes to detaining or not detaining.

“Adult court judges very similarly now are using best interest standards for the community to determine whether they’re holding or not holding. It’s a little more complicated within the SAFE-T Act than it is within the Juvenile Court Act,” Keenan-Devlin said.

Keenan-Devlin says in Illinois, children under 18 get tried in juvenile court, but there are three exceptions: excluded jurisdiction, presumptive transfers, and discretionary transfers.

He says excluded jurisdiction only occurs if the juvenile is 16 or 17.

“If prosecuted for one of three classes of offenses in first-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated battery with a firearm, the state is empowered to prosecute those children in an adult court setting,” Keenan-Devlin said.

Keenan-Devlin says the presumptive transfer is when someone 15 years or older commits an act that includes a forceable felony and has a history of forcible felonies or criminal activity with an organized gang. In this case, Keenan-Devlin says the State can file a motion to transfer the juvenile to the adult court system.

Discretionary transfers are described by Keenan-Devlin as someone 13 years or older under the same circumstances listed in the presumptive transfers.

In both presumptive and discretionary transfers, Keenan-Devlin says a juvenile judge determines if it’s in the best interest of the public that the youth proceeds to the juvenile court or gets transferred to adult court.

According to Peoria County State Attorney Jodi Hoos, because of Jimichael Brown’s age and charge, his case qualifies for an automatic transfer to adult felony court.

But Keenan-Devlin says because if the judge decides to detain Brown, he will remain in the juvenile detention center.

“The law says there must be a sight and sound barrier between adult and juvenile detainees, so that would apply,” Keenan-Devlin said.