State v. Aaron K. Gibbs, 2001 WI App 83, 242 Wis. 2d 640, 625 N.W.2d 666
For Gibbs: Donna L. Hintze, SPD, Madison Appellate
Issue: Whether a delinquency adjudication under former Wis. Stat. Ch. 48 (1993-94) supports a Ch. 980 petition.
¶7 The question is whether in 1997 the circuit court had the authority under the 1997-98 version of WIS. STAT. ch. 980 to proceed on a sexual predator petition against an individual who was adjudicated under the old juvenile code. The 1997-98 version of ch. 980 refers to the recreated and newly numbered juvenile code (WIS. STAT. ch. 938) and makes no reference to the 1993-94 juvenile code (WIS. STAT. ch. 48 (1993-94)). In substance, however, the references in both versions of ch. 980 are the same. Both the 1993-94 version and the 1997-98 version of ch. 980 refer to an individual adjudicated delinquent on the basis of a sexually violent offense or from a commitment order that was entered as a result of a sexually violent offense. The substance of ch. 980 authority is unchanged despite the renumbering of the juvenile code. This independently demonstrates circuit court authority under ch. 980 to proceed on a sexual predator petition….¶11 Just as in Irish, here there is confusion due to the recreation of a statute. The revision of WIS. STAT. ch. 980, specifically WIS. STAT. § 980.02(2)(ag), replaced the reference to an adjudication of delinquency under WIS. STAT. § 48.34 (1993-94) with a reference to WIS. STAT. § 938.34. See 1995 Wis. Act 77, § 695. Gibbs would like us to believe that the legislature intended to exclude those who were adjudicated delinquent under WIS. STAT. § 48.34 (1993-94) from potential commitment under ch. 980. We believe no such thing. Instead, we believe that the lack of reference to WIS. STAT. ch. 48 (1993-94) was an inadvertent oversight. A renumbered statute without a change in substance does not exempt a defendant from ch. 980. The reference in § 980.02(2)(ag) to § 938.34 incorporates the former WIS. STAT. § 48.34 (1993-94), the predecessor to § 938.34….
¶16 Our interpretation that the incorporation of the delinquency adjudication statute in WIS. STAT. § 980.02(2)(ag) is an incorporation of the substance of the adjudication process, rather than merely a numerical designation, avoids an absurd result. Andrade represents a persuasive and reasonable approach to the interpretation of a statutory reference in one statute to another statute. We agree with Andrade that ‘the number of a particular section is simply a shorthand means of describing or designating the substance of [that section].’ Andrade, 190 Cal. Rptr. at 740. With this decision, we abide by the spirit and the purpose of WIS. STAT. ch. 980. As noted earlier, the applicability section, WIS. STAT. § 980.13, demonstrates that the legislature intended ch. 980 to be applied to sexually violent persons who had been adjudicated delinquent for offenses prior to or after June 2, 1994. Therefore, it is no stretch to hold that ch. 980 applies to persons adjudicated delinquent under both the former WIS. STAT. § 48.34 (1993-94) as well as the present WIS. STAT. § 938.34.