Due to the highly-publicized “Slender Man” stabbing case in 2014 (in which two 13-year-old girls were initially charged as adults), Wisconsin’s juvenile offender laws have received renewed attention. State legislators have proposed bills that would keep more juvenile offenders out of adult court; however, these proposals have yet to become law.
As a child or the parent of a child who has been accused of a crime, understanding whether your case will be tried under the juvenile system or in criminal court is critically important. While this article provides a general overview of the differences, if you or your child is facing charges, it is important that you speak with an attorney about your personal situation.
When Are Minors Tried as Adults?
17-Year-Old Minors Are Automatically Tried in Adult Court
Under the current law, all 17-year-olds in Wisconsin are automatically tried as adults. Proponents of changing this provision argue not only that trying 17-year-olds in the juvenile system would help mitigate the lifelong burdens of a criminal conviction, but also that Wisconsin’s juvenile justice system is better-equipped to handle cases involving minors. However, as of yet, the law has not changed.
For Certain Crimes, Children As Young As 10 May Be Tried As Adults
For the most serious crimes – including homicide and attempted homicide – children as young as 10 may be tried as adults as well. In these cases, accused minors can request to have their cases transferred to juvenile court (commonly referred to as a “reverse waiver”); however, it is within the court’s discretion to grant or deny this request.
In Other Cases, Prosecutors and Judges Can Request a Trial in Adult Court
In other cases, either the prosecutor or the judge can seek to have a minor tried as an adult. This process is known as a “waiver,” because minors receive certain protections in juvenile court that they do not receive if they are tried as an adult. Juveniles have the right to a hearing (with legal representation) before a waiver becomes final.
Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.
Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.
Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. | Wausau, WI Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you are concerned that you or your child may be tried as an adult in Wisconsin, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. we represent juveniles in Wausau and the surrounding counties. For a confidential consultation, contact us today.
For more information about the Wisconsin juvenile justice system and what you can do if you or your child is being charged as an adult, call (715) 842-2291. We provide experienced and aggressive legal representation. We can act quickly to protect you or your child’s rights.