Teenagers in Wisconsin are prone to making poor decisions. They are often quite susceptible to peer pressure and may have a hard time contemplating the long-term consequences of impulsive decisions. Young adults experiment with drugs, drive themselves home after drinking at a party or shoplift for the thrill of it.
If they get caught, they may try to talk their way out of the situation or expect leniency because they are minors. However, Wisconsin prosecutors frequently file charges against juvenile offenders. While the juvenile justice system does have more of a focus on rehabilitation than the adult criminal justice system, the system is still relatively punitive in nature. Frustrated parents may need to act to protect the health and future of their teens when the state moves to prosecute them accordingly, as juvenile charges can potentially harm a teen’s life for years to come.
Incarceration can traumatize them
Many juvenile offenses require at least a short stay in state facilities. Youthful offenders may find the experience of incarceration very traumatizing on its own. The loss of freedom and the isolation from social networks can be damaging on their own. When people factor in the possibility of abuse while in state custody, the potential for life-altering trauma is a very real concern.
A charge can disrupt their education
Depending on the nature of the offense and the penalties imposed by the courts, a juvenile crime could prevent a young adult from graduating on time. In some cases, they may face expulsion from the high school that they attend and may need to move to a different school to finish their diploma. That disruption might even deter them from finishing high school and graduating.
A conviction could lead to a criminal record
People often assume, possibly because of something they’ve seen in the media, that juvenile offenses lead to automatic expungement or record sealing. However, that is not the approach in Wisconsin. Juvenile offenders typically have to petition the courts to seal or expunge their records. Not all youthful offenses are eligible for expungement. In some cases, a single juvenile offense might lead to a permanent criminal record if the young adult ends up convicted of a serious or violent felony offense.
Parents who want to help their children learn from a recent arrest may need to help them prepare for trial. Parents can consult with and retain criminal defense attorneys and connect juvenile defendants with other resources, like counseling, to help them learn from their mistakes and improve the trajectory of their lives. Appropriately responding to a juvenile criminal charge can diminish the lasting impact it has on a young person who has been accused of a crime.