Juvenile? Adult? Child? in Wisconsin these are distinctions that can make a difference

Posted almost 2 years ago. Applies to Wisconsin, 1 helpful vote



How can someone be both an adult and a child at the same time?

In Wisconsin, I know of two extreme instances when this can happen - sex and fighting. Two 17-year-olds who get in a fist fight can both be charged, as adults, with felony child abuse! Two 17-year-olds who have sexual intercourse can both be charged, as adults, with sexual intercourse with a child. In both cases, the person is treated as a child for purposes of being a victim, and as an adult for purposes of being treated as a criminal!


What is the "age of majority?"

The age of majority is that age at which a person can enter into a legally binding contract, is generally responsible for his or her own support, can vote, and is treated by the law as an adult. Generally a person under the age of majority cannot own property or write a valid will. My personal opinion is that this age should be flexible, probably closer to 25 for most people. I don't think some people ever reach true adulthood, sadly, but we are talking about the law, and by Wisconsin law, that age is 18.


What is a juvenile delinquent in Wisconsin?

A juvenile delinquent is someone convicted of an act that would be a crime if he/she was an adult. Very young children are treated as troubled, not as delinquent. The juvenile court has no jurisdiction over someone who has reached his 17th birthday at the time of the charge (not the time of the offense)! The punishment for delinquency, in juvenile court, can include being locked up for years. It often starts with "supervision" and includes restitution and community service.


Major crimes can call for adult consequences

A person charged with murder or sexual assault or other serious crimes may be automatically charged as an adult even though as young as 10! Others may end up being moved into adult court because of previous record or the nature of the offense.

Additional Resources

The law about age in Wisconsin

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