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What does said minor be adjudged a delinquent minor and be adjudged a ward fo the court mean In Illinois

Pontiac, IL |

My son who is 17 and my husband and I was served papers tonight. my son has been charged with drug paraphanilla and cannabis what does all this mean that he is a minor be adjudged a delinquent minor and be adjudged a ward of the court mean. does it mean he will be taken away from us

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Not necessarily. Any minor who is found guilty of a crime is "adjudged a delinquent minor." This is called the adjudication phase. At the dispositional phase (very similar to a sentencing), he is made a "ward of the court" and the judge decides his punishment. Sometimes minors are sentenced to the Juvenile Department of Corrections (worst case scenario) or a residential placement facility but these dispositions are usually reserved for repeat and/or heinous offenders.

There are a variety of dispositions that the judge can order. Community service, drug counseling/treatment, random drug screens are a few. Typical dispositions are either conditional discharge or probation with review hearings to check on his progress in completing the things the judge orders. Your son's attendance/behavior in school will also be reviewed.

I would recommend retaining an attorney who can review the specifics of the case with you and your son. Juvenile proceedings can be confusing and scary.

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Your son is an adult under Illinois law.

He should be charged as an adult. If he is not, it is a mistake.

This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship. I cannot advise you fully or appropriately without all the details of your case. Please do not rely on the advice given here without further consultation. Feel free to call me at any time.

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Thank you,

Robert Callahan

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Sorry Mr. Callahan. As of January 2010, a 17 year old who commits a misdemeanor will be charged as a juvenile. Both of the charges you mention are misdemeanors if the amount of cannabis is less than 30 grams and it's only simple possession and not delivery or possession with the intent to deliver. Beginning 2011 the law is supposed to be expanded to 17 year old children accused of a felony.

State law requires the State to serve both parents, even non-custodial parents, with notice (summons) that their child is involved in the juvenile court system with charges contained in a document called Petition for Adjudication of Wardship.

Even though some of the language in the Illinois Juvenile Court Act changed in the 1990's to mirror the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure (for adults), it kept a lot of the archaic language that has been around since the late 19th century when IL became the first state to formulate a separate system for treating juveniles. To be "adjudged a delinquent minor" is just another way of saying that the child was adjudged guilty of an offense. For an adult, one might say "convicted." To say that a child has been made a "ward of the court" simply means that the court has the authority to enter certain orders in respect to that child [and his/her caregivers who were also served with the summons and petition.] There is no comparable term in the adult criminal system.

Among the things (conditions of a "sentence") a juvenile court can do to one of its wards is remove him/her from the custody of his parents/guardians although this is incredibly rare. Unfortunately, county budgets lack the resources to pay for even some of the most neediest children to go into a residential treatment facility except for maybe in-patient substance abuse treatment. Unless your son has a real problem with marijuana, if he is placed on supervision or probation he will likely only be required to do some out-patient services. If during the course of his sentence he tests positive for drugs he may then have to go in-patient. The vast majority of wards live their lives at home the same as any adult on probation would. Given that it seems like all this is new to you, i.e. your son hasn't been in trouble before, I imagine that will be the case for your son.

Lastly, State law requires that all children be represented in juvenile court by an attorney. If the court determines that your family cannot afford an attorney s/he can appoint one from the Public Defender's Office. If you are considering hiring an attorney I would look for one who has experience in juvenile court and not just a criminal defense attorney. Good luck!

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