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Juvenile Justice

The terminology used in juvenile court proceedings is different than it is for adult court proceedings: 

Law enforcement does not arrest juveniles; they take them into custody. Juveniles are not charged with crimes; they are alleged to be delinquent through a petition to the court. Juveniles are not jailed; they are placed in juvenile detention. A juvenile alleged to be delinquent is a respondent; not a defendant. There is no conviction in the juvenile system; there is adjudication. The decision as to how to treat a juvenile adjudicated delinquent is called disposition, not a sentencing. Juveniles are not sentenced to prison; they are committed to juvenile corrections. They are not placed on probation, but are under supervision. They are not paroled, they are placed on aftercare.

Custody Intake is the procedure on deciding whether to hold a juvenile pending court. A juvenile can be detained (held) in secure or a non-secure (shelter- care) setting. Court Intake is the interview process by a social worker on a child that has not had a petition filed in court.

A juvenile means a person who is less than 18 years of age, except for the purposes of investigating or prosecuting a person who is alleged to have violated a state or federal criminal law, or any civil law or municipal ordinance, “juvenile” does not include a person who has attained 17 years of age.

A delinquent means a juvenile who is 10 years of age or older who has violated any state or federal criminal law. In Wisconsin, a juvenile age 17 and older is considered an adult on criminal charges. JIPS (Juvenile in Need of Protection and Services) refers to a child under age 10, who has committed a delinquent act or non-criminal youth such as Truancy, Runaways, Uncontrollable or Incompetent.

Under 118.15 Wisconsin Statutes habitual truant means a pupil who is absent from school without an acceptable excuse under sub. (4), and 118.15 for part or all of 5 or more days on which school is held during a school semester. Truancy means any absence of part or all of one or more days from school during which the school attendance officer, principal or teacher has not been notified of the legal cause of such absence by the parent or guardian of the absent pupil, and also means intermittent attendance carried on for the purpose of defeating the intent of s. 118.15. Youth may be referred to the Department of Human Services – Juvenile Justice Unit by his/her school for truancy under JIPS.

JIPS runaway means a youth who is habitually truant from home and either the juvenile or a parent, guardian or relative in whose home the juvenile resides signs the petition requesting jurisdiction and attests in court that reconciliation efforts have been attempted and have failed.

JIPS uncontrollable means a parent or guardian can sign a petition requesting jurisdiction under this subsection and is unable or is in need of assistance to control the juvenile.

A youth can fall under JIPS jurisdiction who has been determined not to be responsible for a delinquent act by reason of mental disease or defect, or who has been determined not to be competent to proceed.


 La Crosse County, Wisconsin

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