Delinquency RepresentationActs of juvenile deliquency (pdf) can range anywhere from a person under the age of 18 skipping school and running away from home, to possession of illegal weapons or drugs. Part of CFJC's case work involves representing children in Juvenile Court charged with the wide variety of offenses that constitute deliquency.
For an idea of the hard work we do representing youth and keeping them out of prison, take a read of some case stories below:
D.M., a 17-year-old, is a ward of the state living in a group home for abused and neglected boys. He has experienced a great deal of traumatic stress in his life. Recently, D.M. got into a fight with another resident of his group home and damaged one of the home's ceiling tiles (worth $100 dollars). No injuries occurred, but his group home called the police. D.M. was subsequently prosecuted for two felonies: criminal damage to government-supported property and aggravated battery.
The CFJC team ultimately succeeded in getting the two felony charges reduced to a single misdemeanor charge. CFJC also obtained D.M.'s release from custody pending his sentencing hearing.
Finally, through their investigation, D.M.'s team learned that this particular group home has a "zero tolerance" policy for property damage, and other misbehavior, committed by their wards--even though all of these boys have been abused and/or neglected, and many have already made financial or other restitution for their behavior. CFJC attorneys are now working to address this zero-tolerance policy with the leadership at the facility. We hope to educate them about the consequences of saddling these youth with criminal records for acting-out or typical adolescent behavior, and encourage alternative ways of holding the youth accountable for their actions.
On a warm weekend evening in September, D.B. was sitting on a friend's porch like a typical 17-year-old. But unlike many Chicago teens that night, his fourth amendment rights were violated.
D.B. lives on the Southside. This particular evening, Chicago police detectives were on "aggressive patrol" in his neighborhood. As part of this patrol, they performed a suspicionless and verbally abusive sweep, seizure, and search of him and four other friends.
CFJC students and attorneys investigated the case, learning from multiple witnesses the improper way the police had treated them. The students then presented and argued a motion to suppress the evidence allegedly retrieved from D.B.. Although the motion was denied, the CFJC team was able to give D.B. and the other youth in his neighborhood an important opportunity to speak out about the illegal and unfair treatment they were subjected to. Furthermore, the team made a record of what they suspect to be a pattern and practice of conducting such "sweeps" in the neighborhood, which will be useful in future advocacy and education efforts.
CFJC has represented L.P. for almost four years, since he was 14 years old, when he was charged with felony murder and home invasion.
The prosecution's theory held L.P. responsible for his best friend's shooting death by Chicago police officers, which occurred shortly after the two boys participated in a home robbery. After over two years of litigation, the CFJC team persuaded prosecutors to drop L.P.'s murder charge, citing strong arguments that L.P. lacked the ability to foresee that his participation in the robbery could lead to his friend's death.
L.P. pled guilty to being an accomplice to the home invasion, but the prosecution and the CFJC team could not reach an agreement as to his sentence. After a contested hearing, L.P.'s team succeeded in persuading the judge to sentence L.P. to probation rather than to the Department of Juvenile Justice (youth prison).