Seeing your child being placed in the back of a Madison Police Department squad car can be harrowing. You might be unsure of what to do to help them while also worrying about how this could impact their entire future. When you find yourself in this position, the very first thing you should do is contact a Madison juvenile crimes attorney. 

If your child is under the age of 17 and has committed a delinquent act, they should be treated as a juvenile. Sometimes, though, children are charged as adults. And even if they’re charged as juveniles, having a record could still impact their lives. 

Understanding Juvenile Offenses In Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, a person is considered an adult in matters relating to criminal law at the age of 17. Anyone under that age who commits a crime can be charged as a juvenile. Although adult and juvenile crimes are essentially identical in the required burden of proof, the penalties and procedures are different. 

In a juvenile court, the disposition is to presume that the accused should be sent home under parental supervision. Juveniles should only be confined if all other avenues have been exhausted or deemed inadequate. 

In cases when the only choice is to confine them, there are two main options. One is a county juvenile detention center, like the Dane County Juvenile ReceptionCenter, and the other is the State Department of Corrections. Both facilities are exclusively for those 17 and younger. 

The procedures in juvenile court differ from those in adult court. For one thing, there are no jury trials, so it’s the judge who rules on these cases. Although juvenile convictions are sealed and aren’t public record, they could still be accessed if your child ends up in adult court at any point. 

Juveniles can be charged as adults in certain cases, including when they have allegedly committed or attempted to commit the following crimes:

  • First-degree murder 
  • Second-degree murder
  • Reckless homicide 
  • Battery or assault in a juvenile detention center

A child as young as 10 years old could be treated as an adult if they are charged with these offenses. 

Types of Juvenile Offenses and Their Consequences

At Maciolek Law Group, we handle many types of juvenile crime cases. The following are just some of the cases we represent. 


Vandalism is sometimes called malicious mischief or property damage, and it occurs when someone intentionally damages another person’s property. If your child committed vandalism, penalties can include paying fines and restitution to the property’s owner. 

The court can also order probation or for your child to participate in a juvenile diversion program, where they could be ordered to do community services. In some cases, juvenile detention is an option as well. 

Drug Possession 

Juveniles can face penalties for many types of drug-related offenses, including:

  • Possession
  • Injury caused during a drug transaction
  • Intent to sell
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

Convictions can result in fines, as well as orders to enter detention programs or drug rehabilitation programs. 

Petty Theft

Petty theft refers to the act of stealing something that doesn’t have a high monetary value. Usually with juveniles, it means shoplifting. A child who commits petty theft can face fines and will have to make restitution to those they stole from. They may also be required to participate in community service. 

Sexual Assault

If your child has allegedly committed any kind of sexual offense, including assault, they could be tried as an adult. This could mean serious penalties like substantial jail time and a criminal record. They would also be registered as a sexual offender for the rest of their lives. 


Juveniles who’ve committed any form of murder run the highest risk of being moved into adult court. There, they can receive severe consequences, including decades of imprisonment. 

How a Wisconsin Juvenile Crimes Lawyer Can Help

If your child has been charged with a crime, contacting a criminal defense lawyer is crucial. This is especially true if your loved one is accused of violent crimes like sexual assault or homicide. 

Juvenile court has jurisdiction when your child is first charged, but it’s important to note that the prosecutor could try to have the case waived into adult court. This is typically reserved for cases in which the prosecutor feels the juvenile punishment won’t be sufficient. Some charges that could be moved to adult court include:

  • First or second-degree sexual assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Felony murder
  • Armed robbery
  • Second-degree reckless homicide
  • Hostage-taking
  • Burglary while using a weapon or involving battery
  • Manufacture and distribution of a controlled substance

If the child meets the minimum age requirements, it will be up to the court to decide whether the case should be tried in juvenile or adult court. To help your child get less severe penalties, we will fight to keep them seen as a juvenile. 

We can present evidence to demonstrate that they shouldn’t be tried as adults. This can entail information related to their mental and physical maturity level, whether they have any disabilities or mental health concerns, and anything else that can help. 

If your child is already being tried as an adult, we’ll argue to have them waived back to juvenile court. We can show that they will not be able to receive the adequate treatment they deserve while in the justice system. 

We can also demonstrate that moving the case to juvenile court wouldn’t depreciate the seriousness of the offense. Our time can argue that keeping it in adult court wouldn’t help deter other children from similar crimes. 

Once your child has been deemed an adult by the court, any future offenses they commit will immediately be overseen by adult courts. Immediately establishing that they’re a juvenile can help them get the chance to be rehabilitated and not added to the conveyor belt of adult repeat offenders. 

Whether your child is tried in adult or juvenile court, convictions can severely impact them. They will not be able to get federal funding for college or vocational schools, and they could even struggle to get admitted into higher education programs. To protect their future, they need criminal defense lawyers with experience. 

We’ll assess everything the police did, including whether they gave your child their Miranda warning. If we feel that your child’s rights have been violated, we’ll do everything possible to get the charges dropped. In instances in which the only option is to go to court, our team will fight to help your child avoid a conviction. 

Contact Maciolek Law Group for Help

The moment your child is arrested and charged with a crime, you need to call a criminal defense lawyer with experience in juvenile crimes. At Maciolex Law Group, we have been helping clients for decades, and we can help your child, too. 

We’ll guide you and your child through the whole process and advocate for you throughout trials and appeals. Our dedication and tenacity can help your child break free from these charges. 

Because the consequences of not fighting a conviction can be life-altering, it’s imperative that you get the help your loved one needs. Contact our team at Maciolek Law Group to schedule a consultation with one of our Wisconsin juvenile crimes attorneys. 

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