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Wisconsin Crimes: Laws & Penalties

Understanding Wisconsin Crimes: Laws, Penalties & What to Do If Charged

Hey there, let’s talk about a serious topic that affects many people in Wisconsin – criminal charges. Whether it’s you or someone you know facing charges, it’s important to understand how crimes are classified in Wisconsin and the potential penalties. Don‘t worry though, we’ll break it all down in a way that makes sense.

Felonies vs Misdemeanors in Wisconsin

First off, in Wisconsincrimes are divided into two main categories – felonies and misdemeanors. Here‘s the key difference:

  • Felonies are the most serious crimes punishable by imprisonment of more than 1 year in state prison.
  • Misdemeanors are less serious offenses punishable by up to 1 year in county jail.

Pretty straightforward, right? But here’s where it gets a bit more complex. Within each category, crimes are further classified by severity.

Wisconsin Felony Classifications

Felonies in Wisconsin are categorized into 9 classes, from most serious to least serious:

Felony Class Maximum Prison Sentence Maximum Fine
Class A Life imprisonment N/A
Class B 60 years N/A
Class C 40 years $100,000
Class D 25 years $100,000
Class E 15 years $50,000
Class F 12.5 years $25,000
Class G 10 years $25,000
Class H 6 years $10,000
Class I 3.5 years $10,000

Some examples of felony crimes by class:

Wisconsin Misdemeanor Classifications

Misdemeanors in Wisconsin have 3 classes:

Misdemeanor Class Maximum Jail Sentence Maximum Fine
Class A 9 months $10,000
Class B 90 days $1,000
Class C 30 days $500

Some misdemeanor examples:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Sentencing & Penalties for Wisconsin Crimes

Alright, so now you know how Wisconsin categorizes felonies and misdemeanors. But what does that mean in terms of actual sentences? Let’s dive in.

Sentencing for Felonies

In Wisconsinfelony sentences are bifurcated, meaning they are split into two parts:

  1. Initial term of confinement in prison
  2. Extended supervision in the community

The judge determines the total length of the bifurcated sentence and what portion will be served in prison vs extended supervision. For example, let’s say someone is convicted of a Class F felony like burglary. The judge could impose a bifurcated sentence of 8 years, with 4 years initial confinement in prison and 4 years extended supervision.Other potential felony penalties include:

Sentencing for Misdemeanors

Most misdemeanor sentences are served in the county jail. Judges can impose sentences up to the maximum for each class. However, first-time misdemeanor offenders may be eligible for alternatives like:

These alternatives focus on rehabilitation over punishment. Successfully completing the terms often results in reduced or dismissed charges. Other common misdemeanor penalties:

  • Fines
  • Restitution
  • Court costs
  • Substance abuse assessment and treatment for drug/alcohol related offenses

Collateral Consequences of a Wisconsin Criminal Conviction

While incarceration and fines are the direct consequences of a conviction, there are other ways a criminal record can impact your life, like:

  • Employment background checks
  • Professional licensing
  • Public benefits eligibility
  • Housing opportunities
  • Gun rights
  • Child custody and placement
  • Immigration status

A felony conviction is especially serious, as it strips the right to vote, serve on a jury, and possess a firearm. Felons also face significant barriers to employment and housing.

Defenses to Wisconsin Criminal Charges

Facing criminal charges is scary, but remember, you have constitutional rights and protections in the legal system. Here are some common defenses that may apply to a criminal case:

  • Lack of probable cause: Police need probable cause to make an arrest or conduct a search. If they violate this right, some evidence may get suppressed.
  • Violation of Miranda rights: Police are required to read you your Miranda rights before a custodial interrogation. If they don’t, statements you make may be inadmissible.
  • Illegal search and seizure: Evidence obtained from an unlawful search not covered by a warrant exception can’t be used against you.
  • Mistaken identity/alibi: You may have been wrongly identified as the perpetrator or have an alibi showing you were somewhere else.
  • Affirmative defenses: Some acts are legally justified or excused, like self-defensedefense of others, or coercion.
  • Lack of intent: Most crimes require intent. If you didn’t have the required mental state, that can be a defense.
  • EntrapmentEntrapment occurs when law enforcement induces a person to commit a crime they otherwise wouldn’t commit.
  • Plea negotiations: Your attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable plea deal to reduce charges or penalties.

Not all defenses apply to every case. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to determine your options.

Statute of Limitations for Wisconsin Crimes

statute of limitations (SOL) is the time limit for a prosecutor to file criminal charges. In Wisconsin, the SOL depends on the offense:

  • Felonies:
    • Class A felonies like 1st degree homicide have no time limit
    • Most other felonies have a 6 year SOL
  • Misdemeanors:
    • Most misdemeanors have a 3 year SOL
    • Some have shorter time limits, like 2 years for disorderly conduct

There are some exceptions that can extend the SOL, like DNA evidence or crimes involving a child victim.

What to Do If You Are Charged With a Crime in Wisconsin

If you’re facing criminal charges, the most important thing is to exercise your right to remain silent and contact a criminal defense lawyer right away. Trying to explain your side or consenting to searches can hurt your case. Let your lawyer communicate on your behalf. Start researching attorneys in your area that handle cases like yours. Check out their online reviewscase results, and attorney disciplinary records. Many lawyers offer free consultations, so meet with a few to find the best fit.Be honest with your attorney about the facts of your case. Attorney-client privilege keeps these discussions confidential. Your lawyer needs to know the full story to mount the strongest defense. While every case is different, your lawyer may:

  • Conduct an independent investigation
  • File motions to suppress evidence
  • Negotiate with the prosecutor
  • Prepare the case for trial
  • Advise you on the pros and cons of a plea deal
  • Advocate for the best possible outcome
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