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COA finds no violation of filing deadline in second juvenile petition

State v. A.M.J., 2019AP420, 4/14/20, District 3 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

This is a juvenile case so pseudonyms abound. The state accused “Adam” of taking some vehicles from “the Morrisons” and also, in the same incident, damaging some property belonging to “the Olsons.” The district attorney filed a petition concerning the taking of the Morrisons’ vehicles, and Adam was eventually adjudicated delinquent. A few weeks after that adjudication, the DA filed a second petition regarding the criminal damage to the Olsons’ property. This is an appeal of Adam’s adjudication on that second petition; he argues it was not timely filed under the juvenile code. The court of appeals doubts the petition was untimely but holds that even if it was, the circuit court wasn’t statutorily obligated to dismiss it.

The timing provisions at issue are Wis. Stat. §§ 938.24(5), 938.25(2)(a), and 938.315(3). The first requires a juvenile intake worker to refer any request for a petition to the prosecuting authority within 40 days; the second requires that authority to act (or decline to act) on the request within 20 days. As the court notes, these timelines were all complied with, for both petitions. Adam’s argument, though, is that the juvenile intake worker’s actions on the first petition also started the running of the clock on the second petition. (¶11). Per the court, he doesn’t point to any statutory or case law on point, but argues from a general purpose of the juvenile code: to provide speedy adjudications for juvenile offenders. See State v. Hezzie R., 219 Wis. 2d 848, 896, 580 N.W.2d 660 (1998).

The court doesn’t decide whether Adam’s argument has merit, though, because of that third provision, Wis. Stat. § 938.315(3). That statute says that failures to abide by time limits within ch. 938 don’t deprive the court of jurisdiction or competency, and permits the court to grant continuances or “any other relieve that the court considers appropriate.” Reviewing the record, the court of appeals finds sufficient reasons to uphold the circuit court’s discretionary decision not to dismiss the petition. (¶¶16-19).

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