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Types of Police Interactions

There are many ways that the police can interact with youth in Chicago.

1. Decision to Conduct Investigatory Stop

In public places, where most arrests happen, police officers may stop any person whom the officers reasonably suspect might be committing a crime for temporary investigation ( Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)). The officers must base their suspicion not just on a hunch, but on specific facts they can explain to a judge. They may take into account such factors as what they observed the person doing; whether the neighborhood is a “high-crime area,” where there is a lot of drug-dealing or violence; and whether the person ran away or otherwise attempted to evade the police (Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119 (2000)). For their safety during the stop, officers may pat down the outer clothing of a detainee for weapons. If the officers feel what immediately appears to be a weapon or drugs, they may remove that object from the detainee’s clothing and arrest the detainee if the object was, in fact, illegal to possess.

During a stop, police may ask the detainee to identify himself, and he must truthfully provide his name, birthdate, address, and phone number. Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court, 542 U.S. 218 (2004). A person may be arrested simply for providing false identification to police officers. Obstructing identification, 720 ILCS 31-4.5 (2010). During a stop, the detainee does not have to answer any other police questions, such as what he was doing, where he was going, or what he knows about any other person or incident. The detainee’s answers might incriminate him, so he can use his right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article One, Section Ten, of the Illinois Constitution.

Officers may ask any person to voluntarily stop and talk with them during a consensual encounter. If the person is not sure whether he must stop, he may ask the officers if he is free to leave. A person who is free to leave may do so. In Chicago, police officers frequently fill out and save a contact card with information provided by the person. If a person is not free to leave police custody, he has been arrested. United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544 (1980).

2. Discretion to Arrest

By Chris Stain


Police officers may arrest a juvenile when they have probable cause – a reason, based on specific facts known to the officers, to believe that the juvenile committed a crime or violated a court order of supervision or probation. Arrest and taking into custody of a minor, 705 ICLS 405/5-401(1)(a), (c) (1999). Note that the officers’ decision to arrest is discretionary. They have the power to decide whether or not to arrest a juvenile whom they believe committed a crime.

In public places, including schools, police do not need a warrant to arrest a juvenile on the basis of probable cause. If, however, officers wish to remove a juvenile from his home, they should get an arrest warrant. All people have the right against unreasonable searches of their homes and unreasonable seizures of their persons and property under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article One, Section Six of the Illinois Constitution. A child or his family may refuse to allow officers into the house to arrest a person when the officers do not have a warrant. Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980). A juvenile is not required to voluntarily leave his home and accompany officers to the police station for questioning

Illinois law never gives people the right to resist arrest. Resisting or obstructing a peace officer, 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a) (2009). Therefore, a juvenile who believes that his arrest was illegal should not resist or otherwise fight back against the officers. If he is charged with a crime, the fact of the unlawful arrest may be used to fight his case in court.

Any police officer who arrests a juvenile for a misdemeanor offense may confirm the juvenile’s identity and release him to his guardian. Duty of officer; admissions by minor, 705 ILCS 405/4-405(2) (1999). Otherwise, a youth officer must promptly be assigned to case. The youth officer may release the juvenile with a station adjustment, refer the case to Juvenile Court and release the juvenile to his guardian, or keep the juvenile in custody under specific conditions and time limitations. 705 ILCS 405/5-405(3).

3. Release with Station Adjustment

Instead of referring a juvenile arrestee to court, a youth officer has the option to release the juvenile from police custody with a station adjustment. Station adjustments are available for any type of offense – city ordinance violations, misdemeanors, or felonies. In deciding whether to offer a station adjustment, the youth officer must consider the juvenile’s age and history of delinquency, the seriousness of the alleged offense, the juvenile’s alleged culpability (level of involvement), whether the alleged offense was aggressive or premeditated, and whether the juvenile used or possessed a deadly weapon. Station adjustments, 705 ILCS 405/5-301 (1999). A station adjustment is not a finding of delinquency or a criminal conviction. 705 ILCS 405/5-301(1)(g), (2)(e).

A youth officer may impose conditions on the juvenile as part of a station adjustment. For example, the youth officer may set a curfew, order the juvenile to refrain from contacting certain people or entering certain places, and require the juvenile to attend school, perform community service, participate in community mediation or peer jury, or pay restitution. 705 ILCS 405/5-301(1)(e), (2)(d)(iii). If the juvenile violates the conditions of a station adjustment, the youth officer may extend the adjustment, terminate it unsatisfactorily, or refer the case to the State’s Attorney or juvenile court. 705 ILCS 405/5-301(1)(f), (2)(i).

There are two types of station adjustments: informal and formal. A youth officer may give an informal station adjustment if he decides there is probable cause to believe the juvenile committed an offense. 705 ILCS 405/5-301(1)(a). A formal station adjustment is different in that a juvenile must admit involvement in the alleged offense. 705 ILCS 405/5-301(2)(a). The juvenile’s admission can later be used as evidence against him if he violates the terms of the formal adjustment and his case is referred to court. 705 ILCS 405/5-301(2)(c)(iv).

Although they are not convictions, station adjustments usually appear in a juvenile’s arrest history. All formal station adjustments must be recorded with the Illinois State Police. Informal station adjustments for felonies must also be recorded with the Illinois State Police, and informal station adjustments for misdemeanors may be recorded. 705 ILCS 405/5-301(1)(g), (2)(e). Station adjustments can be expunged from a juvenile’s record. 705 ILCS 405/5-915.

The number of station adjustments a juvenile may receive is limited by Illinois law. A juvenile cannot receive more than five informal and four formal station adjustments while he is a minor, with additional limitations by type of offense. 705 ILCS 405/5-301(1)(b)-(d), (2)(j)-(l).

4. Investigation; Referral for Prosecution


A youth officer may hold a juvenile arrestee in custody when he reasonably believes there is urgent and immediate necessity to do so, given the nature of the allegations and factors such as the juvenile’s family, educational, and social circumstances. Duty of officer, 705 ILCS 405/5-405(3)(c). There are strict limitations on the amount of time that a juvenile arrestee may be held in police custody for investigation. A child younger than twelve years old cannot be held for more than six hours. Non-secure custody or detention, 705 ILCS 405/5-410(2)(a) (2004). A juvenile who is twelve years or older may be held no longer than twelve hours for a non-violent crime and no longer than twenty-four hours for a violent crime. 705 ILCS 405/5-410(2)(c). All arrestees under seventeen years old must be separated from adult detainees by “sight and sound.” 705 ILCS 450/5-410(2)(c)(ii), (v); Excluded jurisdiction, 705 ILCS 450/5-130(7) (2006).

Whether a child will be charged as a juvenile or as an adult depends on the child’s age and the nature of the offense. When a child is charged as a juvenile, the youth officer may refer the child’s case to Juvenile Court and either release the child to his guardian or seek to hold the child in detention until his initial court appearance (see below). 705 ILCS 405/5-405(3). Police may not disclose the identity of a child charged as a juvenile to the general public. Processing of juveniles and minors under Department control, General Order 98-11, Section VI-A.

All seventeen year olds charged with felonies will be prosecuted in adult Criminal Court, while misdemeanor cases are referred to Juvenile Court until the arrestee is eighteen. Exclusive jurisdiction, 705 ILCS 405/5-120 (2010). For certain offenses, a child who is fifteen years or older will automatically be processed and charged as an adult; police cannot refer the case to Juvenile Court. Those offenses include first degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault (rape), aggravated battery with a firearm (shooting), armed robbery with a firearm, aggravated vehicular hijacking (carjacking) with a firearm, and unlawful use of a weapon on school grounds. 705 ILCS 450/5-130(1)(a), (3)(a). Sometimes, a child as young as thirteen can be charged as an adult. In automatic transfer cases, members of the Chicago Police Department investigate the offenses alleged, and the Felony Review Division of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office determines whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the child.

The protections that Illinois law provides for juvenile arrestees do not apply to children charged as adults, except for the requirement that children be held separately from adults. 705 ILCS 450/5-130(7). For example, police may disclose the identity of a sixteen year old accused of shooting another person.
Every person, regardless of his age, has the rights to remain silent and to defense counsel when he is arrested. United States Const., Amend. 5; Illinois Const., Art. 1, Sec. 10. Other than providing identity information, juveniles can refuse to answer police questions. They can also refuse to participate in an interrogation without an attorney present. Juveniles may exercise their rights by clearly saying, “I will not talk. I need my lawyer,” and then remaining silent.

When police officers arrest a juvenile with or without a warrant, they must immediately attempt to notify the juvenile’s guardian that he has been arrested and where he is being held. Duty of officer; admissions by minor, 705 ILCS 405/5-405(1), (2) (1999). However, a juvenile may be held in custody and investigated whether or not officers successfully reach the guardian and whether or not the guardian is present during questioning or other procedures. A parent or guardian may not be allowed to see a juvenile held in police custody; such visitors may be admitted or denied access to the juvenile arrestee at the district supervisor’s discretion.

According to Chicago Police Department policy, a juvenile should not be questioned, and a formal statement should not be taken, unless a guardian or youth officer is present. Processing of juveniles and minors under Department control, General Order 98-11, Section IV-E (revised 2000), Processing juvenile arrestees charged as adults, General Order 98-11-03B, Section IV-A-2 (2004). The youth officer is not an advocate for the juvenile’s defense during questioning or at any time. Any statements the juvenile makes to the youth officer may be used against him in court. Furthermore, conversations between a juvenile and his guardian are not privileged. Police may listen to the conversations, and the State’s Attorney could subpoena the guardian to appear in court and testify truthfully to the juvenile’s statements.

Police cannot deny access to a defense attorney. A juvenile (or person of any age) must be allowed to consult with an attorney who appears at the station on the arrestee’s behalf. Right to consult with attorney, 725 ILCS 5/103-4 (1963); Arrestees’ communications, Chicago Police Department General Order 02-03-08, Section III-B-1 (2002). Although police cannot prevent an attorney from seeing his client once at the station, officers and detectives are not required to call an attorney for the juvenile. There are two very limited exceptions: Police cannot interrogate a juvenile who is twelve years old or younger without a defense attorney present when the charges being investigated are criminal sexual assault (rape) or homicide (murder). Representation by counsel, 705 ILCS 405/5-170 (2005). As in adult cases, only homicide interrogations must be electronically recorded. When statements by accused may be used, 725 ILCS 5/103-2.1 (2005).

5. Release From Station Without Charges

Whenever police officers, detectives, or agents of the State’s Attorney’s Office determine that there is not enough evidence to prosecute a juvenile arrestee, they should release him with no charges. The arrest will still appear on the juvenile’s record, and he should apply to have it expunged. Expungement of juvenile law enforcement and court records, 705 ILCS 405/5-915.

6. Request Detention of Juvenile

by Josh MacPhee

When a youth officer refers a case to Juvenile Court, he may release the juvenile to his guardian with a promise to appear in court on a specified date. If the youth officer believes that there is “urgent and immediate necessity” to keep the juvenile in custody until the initial court appearance, he may request that the juvenile be held in secure custody at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center or in non-secure custody at a youth shelter. 705 ILCS 405/5-401(b).

In Cook County, the Juvenile Probation Department screens each request for detention using a standardized points system called the Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI). Points are assigned according to the seriousness of the present offense, whether the juvenile has pending cases or past findings of delinquency, and whether the juvenile is currently subject to a detention alternative restriction such as home confinement. If the factors add up to fifteen or more points, probation authorizes secure detention of a child who is thirteen years or older. In cases of ten to fourteen points, or the child is younger than thirteen, probation explores non-secure detention options. If the factors add up to fewer than ten points, the juvenile should be released.

All juveniles charged as adults in automatic transfer cases are held in detention. They appear in Criminal Court for probable cause and bond hearings in accordance with provisions of the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure. Children referred to Juvenile Court for violent felonies and weapons cases, such as murder, shooting, rape, home invasion, and armed robbery will also be held in detention, regardless of any other factors.

If the child is held in custody when his case is referred to Juvenile Court, the judge must hold a detention hearing within forty hours. Setting of detention or shelter care hearing; release, 705 ILCS 405/5-415(1) (2009). The judge then determines whether the child should be released with or without restrictions while his case is pending. The judge may order continued detention if he makes certain findings: (a) there is probable cause that the juvenile committed an offense, and (b) there is “urgent and immediate necessity” to detain the child for his own protection or the protection of another person or property, or (c) the child is a flight risk. 705 ILCS 405/5-415(4).

Police Action Flow Chart by FDLA (June 2011)

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