Wisconsin Supreme Court rules juveniles once tried as adults always adults
© WikiMedia (Michael Coghlan)
Wisconsin Supreme Court rules juveniles once tried as adults always adults

The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a court of appeals decision on Tuesday that juveniles whom the court has determined should be tried as adults in one county should thereafter be tried as adults for any other offenses in any other counties.

The court reached this determination based on their interpretation of a Wisconsin statute that is commonly referred to as “once waived, always waived.” The implication is that once a juvenile has been waived into adult court, any further proceedings will be held there as well. The relevant text is as follows:

A juvenile who is alleged to have violated any state criminal law if the juvenile has been convicted of a previous violation following waiver of jurisdiction under s. 48.18, 1993 stats., or s. 938.18 by the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under this chapter and ch. 48 or if the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under this chapter and ch. 48 has waived its jurisdiction over the juvenile for a previous violation and criminal proceedings on that previous violation are still pending.

The defendant in this case, Matthew Hinkle, argued that this “once waived, always waived” rule is restricted to each individual county. Hinkle was charged with carjacking in an adult court in Milwaukee County, so his interpretation would bar his being automatically deemed an adult in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court, where he faced 14 other counts.

The court rejected his interpretation, however, finding nothing in the plain meaning of the text to suggest limiting jurisdiction by county. In a 4-2 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the decision put forth by the court of appeals that formally recognized the “once waived, always waived” standard.