Juvenile Justice Unit
The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office handles those cases related to minors, including Children in Need of Protection or Services (CHIPS), Juvenile In Need of Protection or Services (JIPS), Juvenile Delinquency, as well as non-private Termination of Parental Rights and non-private Guardianship actions.
There are many differences between the Juvenile Court and Criminal Court proceedings, including (but not limited to):
- Criminal Court proceedings are open to the public. Most Juvenile Court proceedings, however, are confidential by law, and are, therefore, closed to members of the general public.
- In Juvenile Court, there are specific statutory time frames that must be followed.
- Cases for adult defendants are referred directly to our office by a law enforcement agency. Cases involving minors are first referred to Juvenile Intake Services, prior to being referred to our office.
- In Criminal Court, a defendant may proceed pro se (without an attorney). In Juvenile Court, depending on the child’s age, the court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent the best interest of the child, or Counsel to represent the child.
- Different terminology is used in the Juvenile Court. For example:
|Situation||In Criminal Court||In Juvenile Court|
|Person Charged||"Defendant"||"Child" or "Juvenile"|
|Initial charging document||"Criminal Complaint"||"Petition"|
|Case Title||"State of WI vs. (Defendant’s Name)"||"In the Interest of (Child’s Name)"|
|If the case is proven, the person charged is:||"Convicted"||"Adjudicated"|
|Following a conviction or adjudication, the court proceeds to:||"Sentencing"||"Disposition"|
Children in Need of Protection or Services
These cases involve children who are under the age of 18 years, and include, but are not limited to, cases in which a child is:
- The victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- At risk of becoming the victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect
- The victim of neglect
- At risk of becoming the victim of neglect
- In need of services due to the unavailability of the parent(s), i.e. when a parent is incarcerated, institutionalized, hospitalized or missing
Juvenile In Need of Protection or Services
These cases involve children, under the age of 18 years, and include, but are not limited to, cases in which a child is:
- Habitually truant from school
- Habitually truant from home
- Under the age of 10 years and has committed a delinquent act
These cases involve children, under the age of 17 years, who have been alleged to have committed a violation of State law.
Termination of Parental Rights
Our office handles termination of parental rights for those children who were subjects of CHIPS cases and meet the statutory criteria for initiating and pursuing a Termination of Parental Rights proceeding (Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 48, Subchapter VIII).
Our office handles transfer of guardianship actions for those children who were subjects of CHIPS, JIPS and/or Juvenile Delinquency cases who meet the statutory criteria for transfer of guardianship (Wisconsin Statutes Sections 48.977 and 48.978).
For more information contact the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office Juvenile Justice Unit at (262) 653-2400.