The HoffmanLaw Office defends juveniles charged with misdemeanor and felony criminal offenses in juvenile delinquency proceedings at the Lake County Juvenile Justice Complex in Vernon Hills, Illinois.
We have many years' experience defending clients under 18 years of age in Lake County juvenile delinquency court. We understand the unique issues that arise in juvenile delinquency cases.
A HoffmanLaw juvenile court criminal defense lawyer approaches juvenile cases not only with compassion and understanding for our juvenile clients, but also with a goal of moving toward an efficient and effective resolution of the charges they face.
The HoffmanLaw office has a very high degree of experience with Lake County juvenile court cases.
Juvenile Court is Far More than a "Child Version" of Adult Court
From many years of experience, we know the issues that arise in juvenile court often differ significantly than those in adult criminal court.
The meaningful and effective criminal defense of juvenile cases requires an additional knowledge base compared to the criminal defense of adult proceedings.
We believe it's critical your child's attorney knows these differences and is familiar with how juvenile court actually works. We know our knowledge and experience leads to better resolutions of juvenile delinquency cases for those accused of crimes.
The HoffmanLaw Office has worked in the Lake County juvenile court system since 2001. That makes for nearly 18 years of Lake County juvenile court experience.
Attorney Matt Hoffman of the HoffmanLaw Office has significant past experience as a Lake County juvenile court prosecutor.
Previously, as a Lake County Assistant State's Attorney, Matt spent almost two full years prosecuting juvenile delinquency cases at the juvenile courthouse in Vernon Hills.
Matt is a former recipient of the Lake County Juvenile Justice Award. He personally handles every juvenile delinquency case the HoffmanLaw Office defends.
Working Toward Positive Outcomes in Lake County Juvenile Court
If you're the parent or legal guardian of a child now being prosecuted at the Lake County juvenile justice complex in Vernon Hills, under the law your child is required to have an attorney.
The HoffmanLaw Office can be that attorney. We can do that job. We can work toward bringing a positive resolution to you child's Lake County juvenile court case.
When we defend a child, or a young woman or man in juvenile court, we endeavor to achieve results that help our client learn from the experience, make necessary changes in their decisions and choices, and move on from juvenile court expecting and demanding better things from him or herself.
There are a some basic rules governing Lake County juvenile court proceedings, the discussion of which can help put into perspective the scope and purpose of Lake County juvenile delinquency court.
The HoffmanLaw Office has many years of familiarity with these rules and procedures, along with many years' experience working effectively within them.
As your child's attorney, we'll work within the rules of juvenile court. Where we seek to differentiate ourselves, and to excel as legal advocates, is by working extremely effectively within these rules to achieve great outcomes for our juvenile court clients.
Your child's Lake County juvenile delinquency proceeding is instituted under the authority of the Illinois Juvenile Court Act of 1987. This Act contains the laws governing Illinois juvenile court proceedings.
A very basic requirement of the Act is that anyone charged with a crime in juvenile court is required to have an attorney. The relevant law specifically states your child is not allowed to waive, or give up, his or her right to an attorney.
Since a child defending a juvenile court proceeding cannot waive his or her right to a lawyer, that child is required to have a lawyer throughout the entire juvenile court process.
The criminal charges against someone alleged to be a juvenile delinquent will be written out in a document titled a "Petition for Adjudication of Wardship."
As the parent or guardian of a minor now facing a formal juvenile delinquency prosecution in the Lake County court system, you may have received a copy of this document. This "Petition" lists the criminal offense or offenses of which the minor is accused and the accusations the prosecution would attempt to prove in court.
This "Petition" lists the classification, or levels of the offenses. The "Petition" also will request that the minor be adjudged or adjudicated a "ward of the court."
A "ward of the court" in a delinquency case is a minor who has been adjudged to be delinquent and therefore becomes subject to the "dispositional powers" of the court.
Under Illinois Law, a "minor" is anyone under the age of 21.
A minor alleged to be a "delinquent minor" is anyone under the age of 18 who has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of the State of Illinois.
Minors charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense under Illinois State law in Lake County can find themselves the subjects of juvenile delinquency proceedings at the Lake County Juvenile Justice Complex in Vernon Hills.
Basic Features of Juvenile Delinquency Court
Under the Age of 18
Illinois law states that a "delinquent minor" is someone under the age of 18 who is charged with a crime.
Petition for Adjudication of Wardship
The official charging document in a Lake County juvenile delinquency proceeding is called a "Petition for Adjudication of Wardship."
Many Possible Outcomes
Outcomes in juvenile delinquency cases can range from the dismissal of charges to incarceration in juvenile prison.
Your Child Must Have a Lawyer
The law requires that your child be represented by an attorney during all proceedings in Lake County juvenile court.
Power Over Parents & Guardians
The juvenile court has the power to order parents and guardians to cooperate and comply with court orders in a delinquency case.
Presumption of Innocence
Your child is presumed innocent of the charges in juvenile court and has the same Constitutional protections as an adult.
One striking difference between a juvenile and adult court criminal proceeding is that in juvenile court, the court actually has the power to order the parents or guardians of the minor alleged to be delinquent to comply with court orders imposed in the juvenile case, whereas in adult court the court has no such authority.
In juvenile court, parents or guardians actually can be made parties to the legal proceedings.
As a result, parents or guardians will be named on the "Petition for Adjudication of Wardship" and a "Summons" ordering them to appear in court with their criminally-accused child.
Can the court order parents or guardians to cooperate?
Parents and guardians can be court-ordered to cooperate with pretrial conditions and requirements, and also can be ordered to cooperate with the terms of any sentence that could be imposed on the minor in the resolution of the criminal charges in the case.
In comparison, a person age 18 or over at the time of the alleged commission of a criminal offense will be prosecuted as an adult.
In a prosecution maintained against an adult- someone age 18 or over- the court system will have no jurisdiction over the parents or guardian whatsoever.
When parents or guardians first appear in court in the juvenile proceeding, the court will provide them a "Notice of Rights."
This "Notice of Rights" is intended to inform the parents and guardians of their basic rights throughout the juvenile court proceedings.
Your child who now is facing a juvenile court prosecution in the form of a "Petition for Adjudication of Warship" is presumed innocent of the charges, just as would be an adult in an adult criminal case.
In fact, the standard of proof and rules of evidence that apply to adults also apply to juveniles in juvenile court.
Just as in adult court, in juvenile court the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Just as in adult court, in juvenile court the burden of proof to sustain a guilty finding is beyond a reasonable doubt.
A judge, not a jury, decides the verdict in juvenile court.
Someone prosecuted in adult court has the right to a jury trial in a criminal case. Conversely, in most cases a trial in juvenile court will occur only before a judge.
In juvenile court, a judge will make the ultimate determination of innocence or guilt and will render the trial verdict.
If your child is found not-guilty at trial, then the charges will be dismissed and your child will be released from the proceedings. If your child is found guilty, then a sentencing hearing will be held and the court will impose a sentence or other orders in the case.
If your child is found guilty after a trial, or if your child pleads guilty to a criminal offense as part of a plea agreement reached with the prosecution, depending on the circumstances of the case, there can be a number of potential sentencing options or other requirements available to the court. Some of these may include:
- A continuance under supervision. No adjudication of delinquency occurs.
- A sentence of probation or conditional discharge.
- Commitment to the care of a relative or to an agency for care or placement outside the family home.
- A requirement of obtaining a substance abuse evaluation and completion of treatment.
- Commitment to the guardianship of the Department of Children and Family Services.
- Placement in juvenile detention for up to 30 days.
- Placement in detention for up to the maximum period allowed for adults found guilty of the same offense, but no longer than the minor reaching 21 years of age.
- Placement on electronic home monitoring or home detention.
- For a felony offense, commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice (Juvenile Prison).
The HoffmanLaw Office understands the different sentencing options available to the juvenile court judge in your child's case- if the case reaches a guilty verdict or guilty finding.
As you can see, many of these options are potentially serious. Juvenile court sentences also can be highly structured and impose a number of ongoing requirements on the juvenile defendant.
When we represent a juvenile client in a delinquency proceeding at the Lake County Juvenile Justice Complex in Vernon Hills, we work to reach an overall successful outcome of your child's case.
To achieve a successful outcome, your child's HoffmanLaw juvenile court defense lawyer not only takes into consideration the possible sentences and penalties that could be imposed, but also brings out positive information regarding your child in order to put his or her case into a more balanced perspective.
We understand the criminal charges that have been filed against your child are merely that- charges and allegations.
Is the "Petition for Adjudication of Wardship" evidence?
The "Petition for Adjudication of Wardship" is not evidence against your child. The "Petition" merely states the allegations and offenses the prosecution would try to prove if your child's case went all the way to a trial.
What positive factors are relevant to how the case is resolved?
Factors regarding your child's personal history, including performance in school, lack of prior criminal history, participation in treatment, including alcohol, substance abuse or mental health treatment, extracurricular activities, community, spiritual or religious involvement, community service, employment history, participation in sports or clubs, charitable activities, family and home environment, along with many others all are relevant and significant to resolving your child's delinquency case.
The HoffmanLaw Office knows these factors are relevant because we have been practicing law in Lake County juvenile court for more than fifteen years. We know how important it is to bring out positive evidence.
In Lake County juvenile court, we'll be your son or daughter's legal advocate.
It's our mission to protect your child's Constitutional rights and defend your child against the criminal charges.
With your assistance, we'll work with your child to explore effective resolutions of the issues in his or her juvenile criminal case. We'll work to deal intelligently with the facts of the case, and to move toward a positive outcome of the case overall.
We understand that even though your child is presumed innocent, he or she still may not have made a wise decision in performing the acts that led to his or her arrest.
Yet we know everyone, every person, whether a juvenile or adult, makes mistakes. We believe it's how people respond to their mistakes that truly makes a difference.
When we represent a juvenile client in juvenile court, we seek to help our client learn from any mistakes he or she may have made.
At the same time, we wage a highly experienced, as well as deeply analytical and strategic defense to the criminal charges that brought your child into Lake County juvenile court.
The HoffmanLaw Office assists our juvenile court clients in turning things around, in working toward making better decisions, and in committing themselves to a life of success and progress.
We are, at our core, legal advocates for our clients. We view our work with our juvenile clients in Lake County juvenile delinquency court as an opportunity to impart, along with parental assistance, good and positive messages to the juveniles we defend.
We think if the juvenile accused can achieve the experience of dealing effectively with his or her own juvenile case through active participation with the attorney, then he or she ultimately can move and grow beyond the juvenile court process with a sense of accomplishment and personal empowerment.
In our view, that would be a success.
We wage a highly experienced, as well as deeply analytical and strategic defense to the criminal charges that brought your child into Lake County juvenile court.
~Attorney Matt Hoffman, the HoffmanLaw Office