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Juvenile Court Intake

What is Juvenile Court?
Juvenile Court Intake assists a branch of Walworth County's Circuit Court that deals only with matters concerning children. This branch is called the Children's (or Juvenile) Court. Other local governments in Walworth County such as cities and towns may have courts that deal with juveniles, but the DHHS Juvenile Court Intake unit works only with children involved in the Walworth County Circuit Court system.

Wisconsin Statutes s.48.067 and s.938.067 provide for Juvenile Court Intake workers. The job of the Intake worker is to assess all children referred to the court system for alleged delinquent behavior or who are thought to be in need of protection or services. In effect, the Intake worker acts as a filter for the court. Some referrals can be resolved without formal court action. The Intake worker plays an important role in deciding whether court action is desirable.
Frequent Questions
How are children referred to Juvenile Court Intake?
What is an " intake inquiry"?
What results from the inquiry?
What is an Informal Disposition Agreement?
What is a Deferred Prosecution Agreement?
How does an Informal Disposition Agreement or Deferred Prosecution Agreement work?
How are children referred to Juvenile Court Intake?
Most referrals come from law enforcement officers, school personnel, child protection workers, and parents.

Although most children who are referred to Juvenile Court Intake are in the legal and physical custody of their parents, many are in the custody of a law enforcement official. When a child is in the custody of a law enforcement official, the Intake worker decides whether the child needs to be continued in the custody of the law enforcement system, and if so, where the child should reside pending a court hearing.

What is an " intake inquiry"?
Wisconsin Statutes s.48.24 and s.938.24 provide for the Intake worker to conduct an " intake inquiry."  The purpose of the inquiry is to investigate the alleged delinquent act or abuse/neglect and to provide the youth and parents with information on their legal rights and the authority of the court. In most cases the intake worker meets with the child and parents to discuss the seriousness of the alleged delinquent act or abuse/neglect, the child's history, and the wishes of the family. 

Children and their parents are not obligated to participate in an intake inquiry, (sometimes called an "intake conference").  If the child and parents do not participate in the intake inquiry, the Intake worker is likely to refer the case to the court system for further action.

 What results from the inquiry?
An inquiry usually results in the Intake worker deciding to pursue one of three options:
Option 1) Dismiss the referral.  Sometimes called "counsel and release," this option sees the Intake worker counsel the delinquent child and/or the parents of an abused/neglected child, then release the child from further involvement with the court system.
Option 2) Refer the matter for petition.  In this option the Intake worker asks the district attorney or corporation counsel to petition the court to become directly involved in deciding what should be done with the delinquent child.
Option 3) Hold the matter open.  In this option, no action is taken while the Intake worker and the child and family develop a plan of corrective action.

What is an Informal Disposition Agreement?
The term "Informal Disposition" is found in Wisconsin's Children's Code (Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 48). This term describes Option 3 above for abused/neglected children. The Intake worker may recommend an Informal Disposition Agreement when the parties concerned appear motivated to correct the problems that led to involvement with the judicial system.   

What is a Deferred Prosecution Agreement?
The term "Deferred Prosecution" is found in Wisconsin's Juvenile Justice Code (Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 938). This term also applies to Option 3 above, but for an offense that would be considered criminal if committed by an adult.  The Intake worker may recommend a Deferred Prosecution Agreement when the parties concerned appear motivated to correct the problems that led to involvement with the judicial system.

 Although the Intake worker, the child, and the parents may agree to enter into an Informal Disposition Agreement or Deferred Prosecution Agreement, their decision can be overruled by the district attorney or corporation counsel. The Intake worker only recommends how a case should be handled.  The final decision is up to the district attorney, the corporation counsel, and the court.

How does an Informal Disposition Agreement or Deferred Prosecution Agreement work?
The Intake worker, the child, and the family develop a plan to deal with the child's delinquent behavior.  If approved by the district attorney or corporation counsel, the Agreement can remain in effect for up to one year. Upon successful completion of the Agreement the case is closed. Any of the parties can request that the Agreement be revoked if matters do not proceed satisfactorily. If an Agreement is revoked, the case potentially goes to court.

In Walworth County, the Intake worker has primary responsibility  for monitoring Agreements and for helping those involved to be successful in fulfilling the terms of an Agreement.


 
 

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