Sun Prairie, WI, is a charming small city with an overall crime rate that’s lower than the U.S. average. You’re more likely to find kids hiking with friends at the Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area than committing crimes, but juvenile crime is a serious issue no matter how rare it is. 

Being arrested as a juvenile can severely impact the trajectory of a young person’s life. The Wisconsin juvenile system is complex and can be difficult to navigate without the help of an experienced juvenile crimes attorney. Choosing the wrong representation could make the difference in what consequences your child will face. 

Maciolek Law Group attorneys serving in Sun Prairie have represented hundreds of Wisconsin youth. 

Are Juvenile Crimes Different Than Adult Crimes?

Juveniles may be treated differently by the legal system than adults, but the crimes they commit are the same. Maciolek Law Group has represented young defendants in the following examples:

  • Battery 
  • Burglary
  • Delivery of drugs and drug possession
  • Possession of child pornography
  • Robbery
  • Theft, including retail theft
  • Sexual assault
  • Disorderly conduct

While this is not a comprehensive list, it does represent the most common charges young people are accused of in the Sun Prairie area. 

Juvenile records are sealed, but arrest and conviction information can still be uncovered. Having a record could prevent a young adult from pursuing their education at preferred institutions or disrupt career goals. A juvenile involved in sex-related crime could be required to register as a sex offender. 

Understanding Wisconsin Juvenile Crime Policies

Wisconsin juvenile crime policies are stringent. To start, it is one of only nine states that automatically classifies a 17-year-old defendant as an adult. Other situations when a minor can be charged as an adult include:

  • The District Attorney can petition the court to have a child as young as 14 tried as an adult
  • A juvenile as young as 14 can be tried as an adult for certain crimes, including armed robbery and sexual assault
  • A juvenile as young as 10 years old can be charged as an adult for attempting or committing murder
  • A juvenile accused of assault or battery while imprisoned in a juvenile correction facility may be charged as an adult
  • A juvenile who was previously judged delinquent may be tried as an adult for future crimes

The reforms made to juvenile law in 1996 may have been intended to decrease juvenile crime, but being charged as an adult at 10, 14, or even 17 years of age can be unusually harsh. 

Young people deserve the same protection under the law as anyone else, no matter what crime they are accused of. A lawyer with experience in defending juveniles provides the best chance of getting charges dismissed or penalties reduced. 

Juvenile Crime Penalties

Youth who are tried as adults face the same penalties as adults would. Youth whose cases are heard in juvenile court are given juvenile delinquency charges, not regular criminal charges. Juvenile delinquency charges don’t result in the same types of punishments as adult crimes. 

If found guilty of juvenile crimes, a youth may be sentenced to serve time in a juvenile detention facility, attend a substance use treatment program, or complete many hours of community service. 

Parents may be forced to pay significant fines. In Wisconsin, a conviction for a drug offense may prevent a child from receiving federal student aid for college.

Why Hire Maciolek Law Group to Defend a Juvenile in Court?

Juvenile court proceedings can differ from adult court. An attorney may be able to get a case diverted, which can mean the case is dismissed, the charges are dropped, or the prosecution reaches an agreement with the defendant. 

Arranging for a case to be diverted or handled informally prevents incarceration and means there is no court record of the event. 

An attorney may be able to arrange for a juvenile’s release from Dane County Juvenile Detention Center and prevent them from being tried as an adult. In some cases, a lawyer can convince the judge to agree to a compassionate disposition or sentencing. 

Perhaps most importantly, a lawyer with experience in juvenile crime has a better understanding of adolescent communication and developmental limitations. They understand that youth are less able than adults to anticipate or understand how their actions can affect the future — either for themselves or others. 

Juveniles need a legal advocate who won’t expect the same level of communication or decision-making abilities that would be expected from an adult.

Meeting the Challenges of Defending Juveniles

Not every attorney has the skillset or experience needed to successfully represent young defendants. Getting adolescents — especially those who are under extreme stress — to participate in their own defense can be a challenge. Young people are known for resisting authority figures, even those who are on their side. 

An attorney who understands that these behaviors are completely normal for the age and circumstance and can move forward in a respectful, cooperative manner is better prepared to build a strong defense.  

Creating an effective attorney-client relationship is crucial. Juvenile defendants are often unwilling to provide key information that could help their defense if that information involves friends who are also co-respondents. Building trust is key to gathering the evidence that could bring a favorable result. 

Court proceedings are confusing for most people who don’t work in the legal system. An effective attorney takes the time to explain proceedings in developmentally appropriate language, including reviewing statements and directions made by the judge. 

A good advocate takes every necessary step to help their clients engage in their defense and understand their rights under the Constitution. 

When Should You Hire a Juvenile Crime Attorney Serving in Sun Prairie, WI?

It takes time to build trust with a juvenile defendant, just as it takes time to build a strong defense. There is no advantage to waiting if a child you are responsible for has been arrested. Call Maciolek Law Group as soon as possible. 

Like adults, youth have a right to counsel and should not make statements to the police without speaking to an attorney first. 

A young person might feel less inclined to cooperate with an attorney who comes into the case late. They are more susceptible to the threat of short-term consequences and are vulnerable to the kinds of pressure authority figures can convey. 

Arresting officers may already have convinced the youth to make incriminating statements, and the young person may feel they don’t know who to trust. 

Juvenile defenders should be appointed as early as possible. Once an attorney becomes involved, they can begin establishing a positive rapport, assisting the client and their parents/guardians, and preparing a case. 

Contact Maciolek Law Group

Being accused of a crime, questioned by police, arrested, and processed is a frightening experience for anyone. Juvenile defendants not only deserve quality legal protection but are also entitled to it under the law. 

At Maciolek Law Group, we understand the unique challenges of defending adolescents and teens. If your child or a young person you know has been accused of a crime, don’t assume they’ll be treated fairly because of their age. Call Maciolek Law Group today to learn more about the juvenile crime system in Wisconsin. 

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