In Wisconsin, a person is considered an “adult” for criminal law purposes at age 17. If a person under the age of 17 years commits a criminal act, it is considered a “juvenile offense.” Adult crimes and juvenile crimes are essentially the same. The elements are the same and the burden of proof for the prosecution is still beyond a reasonable doubt. The essential differences between juvenile court and adult court are the punishments and the procedures.
Many times, a juvenile accused of a crime will be “waived” into adult court. Please call or email us immediately for a free consultation and a superb juvenile criminal defense.
Dispositions in juvenile court, unlike sentences in adult court, presume that the juvenile should always be sent home on supervision and only confined if all other avenues have been considered and deemed inadequate. For the most serious juvenile offenses where supervision is inappropriate, there are two forms of juvenile lock-up. One is the county juvenile detention center, and the other is the State Department of Corrections. Both facilities are exclusively for juveniles, and offer programming and treatment unique to young people.
The procedures in juvenile court are also different than those in adult court. Primarily, there are no jury trials in juvenile court. The judge is the finder of fact and finder of law in all juvenile defense cases. On a positive note, any juvenile conviction is kept under seal and not a public record. Unfortunately, if you end up in adult court at some point in your life, your juvenile convictions are relevant both during sentencing for an adult conviction, and for setting bail.
Waiver into Adult Court
When a juvenile is charged with a crime in Wisconsin, the juvenile court has original jurisdiction, but the prosecuting attorney can try to have the case waived into adult court. Usually this process is reserved for only the most serious crimes where the prosecutor might feel that the juvenile punishment system is insufficient to address the case. In almost all circumstances, it is better to keep the case in juvenile court and the Wisconsin juvenile defense attorneys must argue strongly to keep it there.
Reverse waiver is the opposite of waiver into Wisconsin's adult court. On occasion, a case that has been charged in adult court may be more appropriate for juvenile court. It is the responsibility of the Milwaukee juvenile defense attorney to file this motion in a timely fashion; otherwise, the right to be heard on the issue will be forfeited.
Underage drinking is not a crime. It is a civil forfeiture that is handled in municipal court. Many Wisconsin municipalities have diversionary programs that allow defendants to take an alcohol awareness class in exchange for having the ticket dismissed. If this is not available in your jurisdiction, you will need to fight these tickets on the merits.
Possession of a Controlled Substance
This crime is identical to the adult charge. Please see Drug Crimes for further information.
Children’s mistakes can have serious consequences, leaving your child with a juvenile record. The Wisconsin juvenile court system can be particularly complicated, as these records don’t simply disappear when a person turns 18. Juveniles can be waived into adult court for more serious juvenile offenses. To further complicate the matter, should the juvenile conviction involve a sexual offense, your child could be listed (mandatory) on the sex offender registry.
Attorneys John A. Birdsall and Kirk B. Obear are Milwaukee juvenile defense attorneys who have won countless cases over the past decades. Their aggressive juvenile criminal defense strategy is unsurpassed and has placed them among the best Milwaukee Wisconsin juvenile defense attorneys.
Juvenile crimes charges many times carry special circumstances that only the Milwaukee and Sheboygan juvenile criminal defense lawyers of Birdsall Obear & Associates will know how to confront, confidently and efficiently... and win your case.
Our juvenile criminal defense lawyers in Sheboygan and Milwaukee know how to confront and challenge illegal police action, whether it's improper search technique or other violations, if we find that your constitutional rights were violated, your case could be dismissed.
Our law office is simply the best juvenile criminal defense law firm Wisconsin has to offer. Contact our Wisconsin juvenile defense attorneys at Birdsall Obear & Associates.