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Juvenile Law

Juvenile law is a broad area that covers everything from truancy to delinquency, and from child protection cases to termination of parental rights. If you are experiencing the juvenile court system, you want an attorney who can clearly and accurately explain the proceedings to you, listen to your story, answer your questions, prepare you for hearings, and present your case in a compelling manner.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a delinquency proceeding?
Delinquency proceedings are the juvenile alternative to criminal proceedings for children between the ages of 10 and 16. The proceedings involve a different vocabulary than adult criminal proceedings, but many of the concepts are similar: the State has the burden of proof, and must prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt; and the child has the right to counsel, the right to remain silent, and the right to cross-examine witnesses. An attorney who represents a child in delinquency proceedings represents the child, and owes the child the same duties of confidentiality and loyalty as though the child were an adult. The attorney may advise the child not to speak to anyone else about the case. 

What is CHIPS?
CHIPS is the acronym for “Child in need of protection and services.” CHIPS proceedings begin when the state or county files a petition stating that the child has been abused or neglected. Parents have the right to a jury trial, in which the county would have the burden of proof. In some cases, families remain intact but undergo treatment or counseling; in others, children are removed temporarily in order to permit parents to undergo more intensive treatment; and in some cases, CHIPS proceedings may lead to termination of parental rights. In all CHIPS proceedings, a guardian ad litem is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child(ren) affected. Attorneys may be appointed or retained to represent the parent(s) and/or the child(ren). 

What is JIPS?
JIPS is the acronym for “Juvenile in need of protection and services.” JIPS proceedings begin when the state or county files a petition stating that the juvenile is a habitual truant, or dropped out of school, or is uncontrollable, or is a runaway, or committed a delinquent act but is too young for delinquency proceedings, or committed a delinquent act but is not competent to undergo delinquency proceedings, or committed a delinquent act but is not responsible due to mental illness or disability. If a juvenile is found to be in need of protection and services, the court may order caseworker supervision, treatment, temporary out of home placement, community service, and/or other forms of community or civic engagement.

What is Termination of Parental Rights?
When a parent’s rights are terminated, the legal relationship between that parent and the child is permanently severed. Under the eyes of the law, their new relationship is that of stranger. The child is available to be adopted.
Termination of parental rights may be voluntary or involuntary. If involuntary, the judge or jury must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the parent is “unfit” as defined by Wisconsin law. Whether the proposed termination is voluntary or involuntary, the court must also determine whether the termination is in the best interests of the child. For that reason, a guardian ad litem is appointed to represent the best interests of the child.
 


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