Criminal Law in Wisconsin
If you or a loved one have been questioned in or arrested for a Wisconsin crime, you are likely scared, stressed, and worried about your future – all with good reason. After all, your family, future, finances, and freedom are all at stake.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to move forward, this article was written for you.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- Wisconsin criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Wisconsin; and
- How to work with your Wisconsin criminal defense attorney.
Wisconsin Criminal Laws
Criminal law seeks to protect individuals and the general public from injury. Laws are written to provide notice of what constitutes a crime and to serve both as a deterrent and as a punishment.
- Wisconsin criminal laws are found in the Wisconsin Criminal Code.
- There are many crimes listed in the Wisconsin Criminal Code, including elder abuse, desecration of the American flag, child abuse, drunk driving, murder, drug possession, selling drugs in a school zone, robbery, burglary, arson, domestic abuse, stalking, theft by deception, and shoplifting.
Ask your criminal defense attorney to fully explain the crime you’ve been charged with.
Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred.
For example, in Wisconsin, the statute of limitations for:
- Battery is 3 or 6 years, depending on the facts of the case. (Wis. Stat. Ann. В§939.74(1)).
- Murder is unlimited. (Wis. Stat. Ann. В§939.74(2)(a)).
- Receiving Stolen Property is 3 or 6 years, depending on the facts of the case. (Wis. Stat. Ann. В§939.74(1)).
Punishment such as community service, fines, restitution, probation, community service, education, and counseling, and jail are used to deter future criminal behavior, provide restitution, and protect society. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty but the state does have life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Although Wisconsin judges have total discretion in handing down sentences, Wisconsin does have sentencing guidelines that provide standard sentences.
- Judges take into consideration previous criminal history and aggravated or mitigating circumstances.
- The goal of the guidelines is to apply the law uniformly.
For example, in Wisconsin, sentencing guidelines call for:
- Fines in forfeiture crimes up to $10,000. Forfeiture crimes are less serious than misdemeanor crimes.
- Fines and jail time in misdemeanor crimes. Fines up to $10,000 and jail time up to 9 months in jail.
- Fines and jail time in felony crimes. Fines up to $100,000 and jail time up to life imprisonment.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
If you are being questioned about or have been arrested for a crime in Wisconsin, your family, future, liberty, and money may be at risk.
- You need a qualified Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer, immediately. The sooner, the better.
- You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it.
- Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney.
How to Work with a Wisconsin Criminal Defense Lawyer
- Once you make the hiring decision, have confidence in your attorney and take his or her advice. Legal advice is what you’re paying for. Take it. Always.
- Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened. You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it.
- Return all correspondence or phone calls promptly.
- Provide all requested information in a timely manner.
- Stay in contact with your attorney. Make sure the criminal defense office always has your current address and phone number.
- Know that it is in your best interest for your attorney to question you; perhaps even challenge you.
- Know that it is in your best interest for your attorney to be polite and cooperative with the alleged victim, witnesses, police officers, investigators, the district attorney, and the judge.
Bottom Line: If you have been questioned in or arrested for a crime in Wisconsin, get good legal help, immediately.
- You need individualized advice and aggressive representation.
- Your attorney will also be able to advise your family as to how to post bail and best support you.
- Ask the bar association or friends for referrals or simply Google, “How to find a Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney”.