Jan. 21, 2015 – Wisconsin’s Children’s Code has long defined “child” as a “person who is less than 18 years of age.” But the statutes sometimes say otherwise, extending children’s court jurisdiction to “unborn children” from the moment of fertilization and – as of Aug. 1, 2014 – to certain “children” up to age 21. Wisconsin attorneys rely on State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE’s Wisconsin Juvenile Law Handbook for guidance on representing children of all ages in Wisconsin courts.
What if a case involves an unborn child?
The Wisconsin Children’s Code gives the children’s court jurisdiction over an unborn child alleged to be in need of protection or services (UCHIPS) when the unborn child’s expectant mother appears to abuse alcohol or drugs to a severe degree and refuses to accept treatment. Wis. Stat. § 48.133. The Juvenile Law Handbook outlines the rights and procedures that apply in UCHIPS cases, rights and procedures that vary depending on whether the expectant mother is herself a child or an adult (i.e., 18 years old or older).
What special rules apply to newborn children?
Wisconsin’s safe-haven law allows a parent to relinquish custody of the newborn child anonymously to a law enforcement officer or to specified medical personnel any time during the first three days after a child is born. Wis. Stat. § 48.195. A parent who follows the safe-haven law’s procedure is immune from civil or criminal liability for relinquishing a newborn child.
How does age affect jurisdiction in a case involving a juvenile alleged to have committed a delinquent act?
As with the Children’s Code, the Wisconsin Juvenile Justice Code generally defines “juvenile”as “a person who is less than 18 years of age.” The Juvenile Law Handbook explains that “[j]urisdiction in a delinquency case depends on the age of the juvenile at the time the petition is filed, not on the juvenile’s age when he or she allegedly committed the crime.” The Handbook’s chapter on jurisdiction explores the various timing-related scenarios that might arise in a case involving an offense allegedly committed by a juvenile. The book also devotes an entire chapter to discussing the criteria the juvenile court must consider before waiving a juvenile into adult court, and the book further describes the procedures for transferring a case from adult court to juvenile court (reverse waiver).
How do the Children’s Code and Juvenile Justice Code apply to individuals who don’t meet the statutes’ definitions of children?
As the Juvenile Law Handbook notes, “[s]everal provisions in the Children’s Code and Juvenile Justice Code apply to adults….” For example, if a judge determines that a child is in need of protection or services (CHIPS), the “judge may order the child’s parent, guardian or legal custodian to comply with any conditions determined by the judge to be necessary for the child's welfare,” including mental health treatment and counseling. Wis. Stat. § 48.45(1m); see also Wis. Stat. § 938.45(1m). And as of Aug. 1, 2014, a person who the children’s court has placed outside the home may continue in that placement until the person turns 21, as long as the person has an individualized education program and is a full-time student at a high school or its vocational or technical equivalent. See 2013 Wis. Act 334.
Discover the latest developments in the newly released Juvenile Law Handbook supplement!
Attorneys from the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office – Milton Childs, Eileen Fredericks, Kathryn Holtz, Margaret Johnson, Devon Lee, Gina Pruski, Mackenzie Renner, Diane Rondini-Harness, and Amanda Skorr – have again teamed with State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE to create this latest supplement to the Wisconsin Juvenile Law Handbook, which incorporates recent case law and statutory developments from the 2013-14 Wisconsin legislative session.
Order your copy today!
For pricing or more information or to order the Juvenile Law Handbook – an indispensable resource for any attorney practicing in juvenile law – visit the WisBar Marketplace or call the State Bar at (800) 728-7788 or (608) 257-3838. Subscribers to the Bar’s automatic supplementation service will receive future updates at a discount off the regular price. Annual subscriptions to Books UnBound start at $149 per title (single-user price; call for full-library and law-firm pricing).