Wisconsin Considers Trying Non-Violent Teens in Juvenile Court : Legal Articles from Gamino Law Offices, LLC

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Wisconsin Considers Trying Non-Violent Teens in Juvenile Court

by Gamino Law Offices on 09/06/13

Wisconsin lawmakers are considering amending a law regarding how juveniles accused of non-violent crimes are tried in court. In 1996, a law was passed that requires all 17-year-old offenders to be tried as adults, regardless of the crime they committed. A new bill that was just introduced would change that law, allowing 17-year-olds who commit non-violent crimes to be tried in juvenile court.

As it stands, Attorney Carlos A. Gamino notes that Wisconsin is one of only 11 states that try teen offenders under the age of 18 as adults. But not everyone agrees with this policy.

“I believe it does make our community safer to give non-violent, first-time-offending 17-year-olds a second chance,” said Former Dane County Judge Patrick Fiedler. “It's time for Wisconsin to look forward and return non-violent 17-year-olds to juvenile court and truly give them a second chance.”

Then there are some who believe even violent teen offenders should be given a second chance, like Milwaukee state Rep. Fred Kessler, who thinks all 17-year-old offenders should be tried as juveniles. 

According to Kessler, changing the way 17-year-olds are tried in court will help reduce the number of teens who are sent to adult prisons for petty crimes. Our Wisconsin criminal defense lawyers agree with this theory, acknowledging the fact that teens who are tried as adults have a greater chance of becoming adult offenders as well.

Though the bill has a lot of followers, not everyone is excited about it. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen claims judges have the ability to send non-violent 17-year-old offenders to juvenile court, but those in favor of the bill say that the majority of 17-year-old offenders who are tried as juveniles are less likely to commit crimes in the future than if they are tried as adults.  


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