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Bill would increase penalties for juveniles convicted of vehicle theft

MADISON, WI (WKOW) -- State lawmakers have introduced new legislation that would increase penalties for offenders who steal vehicles, drive recklessly, and flee from law enforcement officers.

This comes as local authorities and officials work to address continued vehicle thefts across southern Wisconsin, especially in Dane County and particularly involving juvenile offenders.

Legislators in the House of Representatives introduced the bill on Monday, and it increases the fines and jail time a person would receive for vehicle theft, reckless driving and fleeing from an officer.

It increases the penalty for vehicle theft by one felony classification, and requires the offender to spend at least 30 days behind bars for the crime. For reckless driving, fines and jail time could increase under this bill. That felony classification also increases.

The bill also addresses juvenile vehicle theft. Under current law, a juvenile isn't subject to sentencing requirements under the criminal code. In the new bill, any teen who either steals a vehicle or is a passenger in a stolen vehicle would be required to serve time in some sort of juvenile detention facility for a minimum of 30 days.

If charges or a petition against an adult or juvenile, respectively, were to be amended or dropped, the bill says that the court must prove that by doing so, it's consistent with the public's interest in deterring the theft of motor vehicles.

The bill would also allow the court to order the person found guilty of these crimes to attend a victim impact panel or similar program as part of the sentence.

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KBJR Staff

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