Juvenile Justice

The Juvenile Justice Section derives its mission from the legislature. In the Juvenile Justice Code, Section 938 of the Wisconsin Statutes, legislative intent is stated as follows:
  • to promote a juvenile justice system capable of dealing with the problem of juvenile delinquency
  • a system which will protect the community
  • impose accountability for violations of the law
  • equip juvenile offenders with competencies to live responsibly and productively
The legislature also specified as an objective that victims will be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy and sensitivity and to be afforded the same rights as victims and witnesses of crimes committed by adults.

Who We Serve
We serve juveniles alleged to be delinquent and juveniles alleged to be in need of protection and services. The governing legislation is Chapter 938 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

Delinquency 938.12
Chapter 938 defines delinquent as a juvenile who is 10 years of age or older who has violated any state or federal criminal law. Exceptions are certain laws applying to vehicles, waiver of jurisdiction to adult court, and original adult court jurisdiction for certain crimes.

In Wisconsin a person who commits a crime after age 17 is considered an adult and the offense is handled in the adult criminal system.

If a petition alleging that a juvenile is delinquent is filed before a juvenile is 17 years of age, but the juvenile becomes 17 years of age before admitting the facts of the petition at the plea hearing or if the juvenile denies the facts before adjudication, the juvenile court retains jurisdiction over the case.

Juvenile in Need of Protection & Services 938.13
This provision of Chapter 938 addresses three situations:
  • Crimes committed by a child under the age of 10
  • Juveniles who are not responsible or not competent due to mental disease or defect
  • Status offenses
Status offenses are non-criminal offenses. These are habitual school truancy, habitual truancy from home and uncontrollable behavior. Uncontrollable behavior is a pattern of behavior. Some features are a juvenile who refuses to be accountable to parents for his or her whereabouts, who is not performing any responsibilities in the family, who is uncooperative with services, who doesn't abide by normal disciplinary actions.

This pattern of behavior would need to be documented by the parents. For court involvement the parent(s) would have to sign a petition requesting jurisdiction because they are unable or need assistance to control the juvenile.

Legal Processes
View information about the legal process online.