Juvenile Law

Wisconsin, in addition to its extensive dairy industry and cold winters, is notable for being
one of the few states in the country where juveniles are subject to adult prosecution at age 17.

Thus, in Wisconsin, a juvenile can go through the adult criminal justice system a full year before reaching the age of adulthood. Naturally this dynamic is a matter of controversy, as it can have wide-ranging consequences for the individual charged.
Advantages of Juvenile Court
It is
Continue Reading The Freedom to be Kids: Observations of Charging 17-year-olds in Adult Court

Transgender children and their families are under attack. In the last two years, politicians and lawmakers have sought to limit transgender youth from accessing health care, education, and other basic rights.

Through a campaign of moral outrage based on misleading, incorrect, and at times outright fabricated information, state legislators have introduced at least 306 bills from 2020 to 2022 that target the trans community. Most concerning, the majority of these laws, 86%, center on transgender youth.1

Transgender youth
Continue Reading Gender-affirming Care Is Not Child Abuse

​In the past few years, there has been a reckoning nationwide as to the history of racial injustice and its continued effects on people of color. The murder of George Floyd and countless other Black people by police has reinvigorated a national discussion of racial injustice in the U.S.

One only needs to observe one day in a Wisconsin courtroom to see racial disparity in stark reality. As a youth defense attorney in northeast Wisconsin for the past nine
Continue Reading We Need to Recognize the Implicit Bias in Wisconsin’s Youth Justice System

State v. Jonathan L. Liebzeit, 2021AP9-CR, District 3, 8/30/22 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

In 1997, a circuit judge sentenced Liebzeit to life without the possibility of parole for a homicide he committed at the age of 19. In 2019, after hearing a presentation at a judicial education seminar about juvenile brain development and shortly thereafter sentencing an 18-year-old for a crime, the judge decided to to contact Liebzeit’s lawyer to suggest a sentence modification
Continue Reading Juvenile Brain Development Research Wasn’t a New Factor Justifying Sentence Modification

We’re regularly contacted by people who want to know whether their criminal conviction can be expunged. Only criminal convictions can be expunged. Wisconsin law does not provide for expungement of non-criminal convictions, like traffic or ordinance violations.

A very good resource on expungement in Wisconsin was published by the Wisconsin State Law Library.  It’s available here:


To qualify for expungement under Wis. Stat. § 973.015(1m)(a)1. the person must be under the age of 25 at the time of
Continue Reading Qualifying for Expungement

State v. D.J.L., 2021AP436, 5/10/22, District 3 (1-judge opinion ineligible for publication); case activity

The State charged 17-year-old “David” with exposing himself to two girls (5 and 9) and sexually assaulting the older one. On appeal, he challenged the circuit court’s decision to waive him into adult court. The court of appeals held that the circuit court (1) appropriately applied §938.18(5)’s waiver criteria, (2) had the discretion to reject an expert opinion opposing waiver, and (3) did not
Continue Reading Appeals Court Upholds Waiver of Juvenile Into Adult Court

With just a few months left to the school year, we all look to a strong, positive finish to what again has been a challenging year for school districts. While we are hopefully moving past mask and vaccine mandate debates and other COVID-related issues, we still have those last couple of warm months to navigate with restless students who are anxious to finish the school year. History tells us that, while positive preventative measures coupled with good practices in
Continue Reading Recent Student Expulsion Decisions Provide Important Reminders to School Districts

State v. X.S., 2021AP419, review of an unpublished court of appeals opinion, granted 10/18/21, case activity

1. Whether the court of appeals erroneously exercised its discretion in denying “Xander’s” motion for reconsideration less than 24 hours after it was filed without any explanation?

2. Whether a juvenile who stipulates to the prosecutive merit of a delinquency petition is estopped from presenting any evidence to contradict factual averments in the petition even when those facts do not negate
Continue Reading SCOW Takes Up Appellate Review of Juvenile Waiver Decisions

State v. T.G., 2021AP351, 6/23/21, District 2 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

The State filed a delinquency petition against T.G., then 15, for stealing a car and causing an accident that left two passengers seriously injured. The State also petitioned for waiver of jurisdiction. Reviewing the petition de novo, the court of appeals held that Count 1 had “prosecutive merit.” Further, the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion in waiving T.G. into adult court.
Continue Reading COA Affirms Waiver of Juvenile into Adult Court