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The juvenile justice system in Wisconsin

Residents of all ages in Wisconsin can be accused of a crime. That means even individuals deemed children could face criminal allegations. While it is a serious situation to be charged with a crime, it is important to understand the difference between the juvenile justice system versus the criminal system adults are sent through. Additionally, it is crucial to be aware what could cause a child to be tried as an adult and have his or her case transferred to into the adult system.

The Juvenile court sees offenders between the aged of 10 and 16; however, children between these ages could be in the adult system if he or she is subject to original adult jurisdiction or if he or she is waived to adult court. When a juvenile between the ages of 10 and 16 are first taken into custody, this is typically done by law enforcement unless they are referred to intake by a school official, parent or guardian if he or she is suspected of violating a state or federal law, local ordinance, court order or suspected of being a runaway.

Following intake, it is determined whether or not the case will remain in the juvenile system. Additionally, it is determined if the juvenile should be held in temporary custody or released pending trial. If a juvenile is sentenced to a juvenile detention and correction facility within the county, he or she will have to remain at the facility for up to 30 days. In contrast, if he or she is placed in a state controlled facility, inmates are provided educational opportunities and other services such as treatment.

Lastly, juveniles transferred to adult court will have to endure the entire process of the adult court proceedings. Additionally, he or she could be subject to harsher penalties and long-term consequences if this occurs.

No matter the crime a juvenile is accused of, it is important to understand the criminal process he or she will endure, the potential penalties and the criminal defense options. This could help the accused avoid serious life impacting penalties, allowing them to enjoy the rest of their youth and adult life.

Source: Minds.wisconsin.edu, "Treatment of Juveniles in the Wisconsin Criminal Court System: An Analysis of Potential Alternatives," Breann Boggs et. Al, Spring 2008

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