Although government data show that juvenile arrests have declined dramatically in recent years, the risk of facing criminal penalties and life-changing practical consequences due to a conviction remains a very real concern for teenagers who make the mistake of violating the law. While summer break is a time to recuperate from a busy school year and make lasting memories with friends, it is not a time to ignore the consequences of engaging in criminal activity.
Unfortunately, many teenagers learn this the hard way. While juvenile arrest rates may be down, the number of teenagers who face criminal charges each summer remains high. The following are five of the most common charges against juvenile offenders:
1. Operating a Motor Vehicle while Under the Influence (OWI)
While Wisconsin’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for adults age 21 years and older is 0.08 percent, minors are subject to a law known as “zero tolerance.” This law means that a juvenile driver can be arrested and charged for driving with any amount of alcohol in his or her system. Teenagers arrested for drunk driving will commonly face related charges (such as underage possession or consumption and use of a fake ID) as well.
2. Possession of Marijuana and Other Drug Offenses
A significant portion of juvenile arrests involve marijuana and other drug-related offenses. Although “simple possession” is often viewed as “minor” offense, the reality is that any juvenile conviction for a drug-related offense can potentially have implications for school enrollment, employment eligibility, driving privileges, and other aspects of teenage life.
3. Sexual Assault
Sexual assault crimes are prosecuted heavily in Wisconsin at both the adult and juvenile levels. Juveniles who are seventeen years old will automatically be tried as adults, and prosecutors can seek to charge younger juveniles as adults as well (note that this is not limited to sexual assault offenses). Juvenile sexual assault cases can be extremely complicated and tend to be highly fact-specific, and any teenager facing sexual assault charges – regardless of severity – should seek legal representation promptly.
4. Criminal Traffic Offenses
While most typical driving offenses (such as speeding and running red lights) are non-criminal traffic violations in Wisconsin, certain traffic-related offenses can lead to criminal charges. Along with OWI, other common criminal traffic offenses charged against juvenile drivers include causing bodily harm by the operation of a motor vehicle and failing to stop at the scene of an accident (hit-and-run).
5. Theft (Shoplifting)
Theft (shoplifting) is another common juvenile offense. In Wisconsin, the penalties for theft are determined by the value of the property stolen, with the felony offenses carrying the potential for significant fines and long-term imprisonment.
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.
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If you or your teenager has been arrested, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential consultation. Our attorneys have extensive experience in Wisconsin criminal matters, and we can help protect you or your child as much as possible. To schedule an appointment at our offices in Wausau, please call (715) 842-2291 or submit our consultation request form today.