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Delinquency – Serious Juvenile Offender Program

State v. Emanuel M., 2010AP2175, District 1, 3/15/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Emanuel M.: Devon M. Lee, SPD, Madison Appellate; case activity

The trial court made the requisite findings for SJOP disposition, § 938.34(4h): the juvenile was at least 14 years old; the adjudication offense(s) qualified under the statute; correctional placement was the only other appropriate disposition (as to which, the trial court’s multiple references to “Wales” amounted to an “implicit finding of fact” and is upheld on that basis); and, the trial court specifically addressed the concerns in § 938.34(4m) (impact of crimes on victims, need to protect community, necessity of custodial treatment). The fact that the trial court stayed the disposition, and ordered placement in a residential care center, didn’t mean that the court had actually found non-correctional facility disposition to be appropriate:

¶12      Wisconsin Stat. § 938.34(16) permits a juvenile court to stay the disposition of an order, “contingent on the juvenile’s satisfactory compliance with any conditions that are specified in the dispositional order and explained to the juvenile by the court.”  Id. (emphasis added).  This gives the delinquent juvenile an opportunity to conform his or her behavior during a probationary period.  As our supreme court explained in State v. Cesar G., 2004 WI 61, ¶32, 272 Wis. 2d 22, 682 N.W.2d 1, one of the goals of the Juvenile Justice Code is to “‘allow [ ] the judge to utilize the most effective dispositional plan’ in order to ‘respond to a juvenile offender’s needs for care and treatment, consistent with the prevention of delinquency, each juvenile’s best interest and protection of the public.’”  (Citation omitted; brackets in Cesar G.).  “A statutory scheme designed to give circuit courts flexibility to tailor dispositional orders to the circumstances of a particular case would give a circuit court discretion to stay all or some portions of a dispositional order,” including the SJOP.  Id., ¶33.

Thus, upon subsequently finding violations of probation, the court properly imposed the stayed disposition.

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