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What is a juvenile delinquent?

As a pervious post highlighted, children and young adults in Wisconsin could be charged with a juvenile crime, facing serious consequences through the juvenile court system. While juveniles tried as juveniles face less harsh penalties when compared to their adult counterparts, this only occurs if the alleged offender is deemed a juvenile delinquent and will remain in the juvenile system.

What is a juvenile delinquent? In simple terms, a juvenile delinquent is a person usually between the ages of 10 and 18 who has been accused of a crime or committed an act that violates local, state or federal law. Thus, crimes committed by minor are referred to as delinquent acts, and rather than going through a trial, juveniles have an adjudication. This involves receiving a disposition and a sentence.

Delinquent acts fall into one of two different categories. The first category is an act that would be considered a crime if an adult had committed it. And in cases where the crime is considered serious, some jurisdiction will attempt to try the minor as an adult. However, when a minor is tried as a juvenile, parents are often left responsible to pay the court costs for their child.

The second type of delinquent act is one that would not usually be considered a crime if an adult performed it. These are known as age-related or status crimes, and the most common types of crimes that fall into this category are curfew violations and truancy, which is the continued failure to attend school.

If you or your child have been accused of a juvenile delinquent act, it is important to understand the laws in your jurisdiction and what rights you have moving forward. Initiating a criminal defense is important, even at the juvenile level, and could help a minor avoid serious consequences.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Juvenile Delinquents," accessed March 19, 2017

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