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Under Wisconsin law, juveniles between the ages of 10-16 are subject to the jurisdiction of juvenile court when they commit a crime. While legally still a minor, a 17-year-old is treated as an adult in the eyes of law.  These courts have significant benefits for a young person who has committed a crime, first and foremost is it’s a confidential proceeding. These courts do not allow the public to be present at juvenile hearings, and only those associated with the case are permitted in the courtroom. Juvenile cases also do not appear online on the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access page, and the files are not available to be viewed by members of the public.

Despite the many protections offered to a young person charged in juvenile court, that does not mean they are not potentially subjected to very serious penalties. At the time a juvenile is arrested for a crime they can be detained in a juvenile detention facility, sometimes for an extensive period of time. In Racine County, juveniles who are detained are typically held at the juvenile detention facility located at 1717 Taylor Avenue, Racine WI   Juvenile

The decision as to which juveniles should be detained and for which crimes at the time of arrest, in the detention facility, has recently been reconsidered by Racine County officials. The current policy in Racine has been in place since 1996, however, attorneys, judges and case managers from the Human Services department have been working together through the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) to assess the current policy. The collective is considering adopting practices in place in the surrounding counties, such as Milwaukee, Rock and Waukesha. The new policy being considered would be for juvenile intake workers to leverage the “Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI)”. The assessment tool is supposed to take into consideration a variety of factors including the crime alleged, prior record, history of violence, and other factors. The central idea behind the change from the current policy is to have consistency across the board with holding juveniles. The proposed policy would no longer mandate that juveniles charged with certain crimes must be detained but would allow the intake worker to utilize the risk assessment tool (DRAI) to make the make the appropriate detention decision. The risk assessment tool that is being considered is not new, it has been used in Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Rock county with varying levels of success.

Despite the protections that are offered by a juvenile court, charges arising out of juvenile court can have a lifelong impact. If your child or loved one has been charged with a crime it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney with deep, meaningful knowledge of handling juvenile cases, to assist you and your family. Please feel free to contact one of the experienced attorneys at our office if your child has been charged with or is under investigation for a crime.


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