In Wisconsin, when someone under the age of 17 years is accused of committing a crime, it is considered a juvenile offense—a “delinquent act”—and the case is processed through the juvenile justice system. Juvenile offenses are by no means lesser crimes; but they are handled differently than adult cases.
Juvenile delinquency, as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice, is the “the violation of a law of the United States committed by a person prior to his eighteenth birthday which would have been a crime if committed by an adult.”
However, under the Wisconsin Juvenile Justice Code, in the context of investigating or prosecting violations of state or federal criminal law, a “juvenile” does not include an individual who has attained 17 years of age. Only those under the age of 17 may be considered a juvenile.
The process of adjudicating juvenile crimes in Wisconsin is based on the idea that those individuals who are younger than 17 years of age have a different level of responsibility and a greater potential for rehabilitation than those over the age of 17 years. The criminal justice system seeks to understand that fundamental difference and apply other remedies for juveniles to avoid incarceration.
The primary focus of the Wisconsin Juvenile Court is to educate or rehabilitate as it seeks to address the interests of public safety and the needs of the juvenile and their family. The Juvenile Court considers what skills or competencies the juvenile or family members may require to avoid future problems and to restore any damage resulting from the juvenile’s acts.
Knowledgeable juvenile criminal defense attorneys at Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C. have extensive experience handling juvenile delinquency cases for both the Wisconsin public defender’s office as well as private cases.
Our team successfully defends against a range of juvenile offenses including—but not limited to—the following:
In juvenile matters, early response is important. An experienced attorney can assist from the moment that a juvenile is accused of a crime. The juvenile system provides options for resolution without entering the court system. An experienced attorney can advocate for alternatives to court involvement.
When a juvenile is charged with violating a criminal statute, the court must first determine that the juvenile is delinquent. This is an important step, and the State is held to the same burden as in criminal cases. Juvenile trials require an attorney with the same skill and knowledge as criminal cases. In the event a juvenile is found delinquent, the process of determining consequences requires knowledge and experience regarding the services available for juveniles and the appropriateness of conditions.