Law Offices of Jeffrey W. Jensen 735 W. Wisconsin Ave., Twelfth Floor Milwaukee, WI 53233
414.671.9484 Jeffrey W. Jensen is a criminal defense lawyer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is also a criminal appeals lawyer in Wisconsin.
How do children find their way into adult court?
Those not involved in the criminal justice system might be shocked to learn about the number of children who are being prosecuted in adult court. A decade ago, in response to the perceived increase in violent crime by juveniles, the Wisconsin Legislature created Chapter 938 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Chapter 938 governs juveniles delinquency. The law provides that virtually all criminal offenses committed by juveniles who are at least seventeen years-old will be prosecuted in the adult system. The philosophy behind the law is that for children of that age there is simply too little time left in the juvenile system to adequately address the child's needs. The law also provides that for certain serious offenses-- first degree intentional homicide, for example-- children as young as ten years old may be charged in adult court. Where a child is originally charged in adult court, the law also provides that the child may file a petition for "reverse waiver". That is, the child may attempt to prove to the court that he or she is not appropriate for the adult system. Chapter 938 also guides the court's disretion in deciding which children, originally charged in children's court, should be waived into adult court.