Understanding the Juvenile Justice System in Wisconsin

We work for them, worry about them, save for them, and do all we can to help them. But no matter how much we try to protect our children, they are bound to make mistakes. It’s part of life.

When a child’s youthful mistake leads to an arrest, there are important things that parents in Wisconsin need to know about the juvenile justice system.

Common Misconceptions

There’s a common misconception that juvenile offenses automatically disappear from a child’s record once the child turns 18. That is not true. A juvenile conviction could follow a child well into adulthood. Cases involving sex offenses, violence or weapons could result in mandatory sex offender registration or firearms prohibitions that extend into a minor’s adult life.

It’s also not uncommon for kids accused of serious juvenile offenses to be waived into adult criminal court. The consequences in adult criminal court can be very severe.

Teenagers accused of alcohol and drug offenses may also face negative consequences in juvenile proceedings. Sometimes the decisions handed down in juvenile cases are ultimately not beneficial to a young person’s growth and education. The key is to find a path forward that is best for your child’s specific circumstances. It’s important for teens to have appropriate guidance and professional resources in these matters, and an experienced and effective legal advocate is one of those resources.

The bottom line is that your child’s future may be at stake, and you should have an experienced attorney on your side to mount your child’s best defense.

Consider the Options

In many juvenile cases, it’s possible to obtain a consent decree, whereby the matter is resolved without your child admitting guilt.

These cases often involve a deferred prosecution agreement. As part of the agreement, the child typically has to meet certain requirements. For example, the child may have to undergo counseling and complete community service. Such an arrangement can also help a child avoid an adjudication of delinquency, which could otherwise have a negative and lasting effect on your child’s record.

These arrangements can ultimately lead to positive outcomes by providing children with the services they need, while also helping children learn from their mistakes.

Getting Help for Your Child

Every case is different. If your child has been accused of a juvenile offense, do not hesitate to speak with an experienced juvenile defense attorney.