Charged with a Crime in Wisconsin?
Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties
A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.
If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local Wisconsin criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.
What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?
The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:
- Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
- Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
- Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
- Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.
What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in Wisconsin?
Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. The general penalties you may face for different types of criminal charges in Wisconsin are:
- Class A Misdemeanor. Crimes, such as theft of property worth less than $2,500, are considered Class A misdemeanors. These are the most serious misdemeanor crimes in Wisconsin, and are punishable by up to 9 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Class B Misdemeanor. Crimes such as disorderly conduct (public intoxication, disturbing the peace, etc.) are considered Class B misdemeanors. They are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- Class C Misdemeanor. Crimes such as a second conviction within 30 months for being a minor in possession of alcohol are considered Class C Misdemeanors. These misdemeanors are the least serious type of crime in Wisconsin, and being convicted can result in a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
What Is the Penalty for a Felony in Wisconsin?
Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. In Wisconsin, possible felony charges and penalties include:
- Class A Felony. Class A felonies are the most serious types of crimes in Wisconsin, and are punishable by life imprisonment. Murder and child abduction, among a few others, are considered Class A felonies.
- Class B Felony. Crimes such as first degree sexual assault are considered Class B felonies. These are punishable by up to 60 years’ imprisonment.
- Class C and D Felonies. A conviction for a Class C or D felony can result in:
- a prison term of up to 40 years (for Class C) or 25 years (for Class D)
- a fine of up to $100,000, or
- both imprisonment and a fine.
- Child enticement (luring a child with the intent to engage in sexual activities) is an example of a Class C/D felony under Wisconsin’s laws.
- Class E Felony. In Wisconsin, Class E felonies are punishable by a fine of up to $50,000, up to 15 years’ imprisonment, or both. Aggravated battery (resulting in great bodily harm to another) is a Class E crime.
- Class F and G Felonies. Class F and G felonies are punishable by:
- up to 12 years six months (for Class F) or 10 years (for Class G) in prison
- a fine of up to $25,000, or
- both a fine and imprisonment.
- Pimping is an example of a Class F/G felony.
- Class H and I Felonies. Class H and I felonies are punishable by fines of up to $10,000, prison terms of up to six years (for class H) or three years and six months (for Class I); or both imprisonment and a fine. These are the least serious felony crimes in Wisconsin, and include crimes such as theft of property worth $5,000 to $10,000.
Need a Wisconsin Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help
If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.