Can Minors Be Tried As Adults In Wisconsin?

Adolescence is a formative time for all of us. However, when growing pains and learning experiences lead to legal trouble, it is important to know your rights and consult a defense attorney to protect them aggressively.

The criminal justice system typically holds adults to a higher standard. Still, charges such as homicide and sexual assault may provoke courts to apply these same harsh standards to juveniles.

A More Restorative Approach Than Adult Courts

The juvenile justice system can be harsh, but it takes a more restorative approach to justice than its adult counterpart. Incarceration is often a last resort in juvenile court. If convicted, judges might assign consequences such as mandatory public service and counseling to convicted minors instead of the high fines and imprisonment that adults face for similar crimes. One of the primary goals of the juvenile justice system is to provide convicted juveniles with the support they need to reintegrate safely into the community.

In some circumstances, however, the state may decide that rehabilitation is unlikely or that a juvenile’s threat to public safety is too significant to leave the decision up to the juvenile courts. These determinations are made with consideration to the severity of the crime and the defendant’s age.

By The Numbers: Ages 0-9

Juveniles aged 0-9 cannot be tried as adults in any legal circumstances.

Age 10

Any child 10 or over will be automatically sent to adult court if they are charged with homicide.

Ages 14-16

As of 1996, Wisconsin passed legislation that takes a stricter approach to juvenile justice. If you are 14-16, you could be tried as an adult, depending on the severity of your felony charge. In addition, charges such as sexual assault or aggravated battery can be waived from juvenile to adult court.

Ages 17+

Anyone over 17 years old is charged as an adult in Wisconsin.