Wisconsin Felony Charges
In Wisconsin, a felony is any crime with a maximum sentence of more than one-year imprisonment. Common felonies include identity theft, aggravated battery, reckless endangerment, sexual assault, and homicide. Wisconsin law provides categories of felonies and applicable maximum sentences as follows:
Class A Felony: Life Imprisonment
Class B Felony: 60 years imprisonment
Class C Felony: 40 years imprisonment and a $100,000 fine
Class D Felony: 25 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine
Class E Felony: 15 years imprisonment and a $50,000 fine
Class F Felony: 12 years and 6 months imprisonment and a $25,000 fine
Class G Felony: 10 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine
Class H Felony: 6 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine
Class I Felony: 3 years six months imprisonment and a $10,000 fine
If you or a loved one is facing felony charges in Wisconsin, contact Attorney Andrew Walter for a free consultation today.
The Wisconsin Felony Court Process
The first important issue after an arrest or summons is setting the bond or bail. The judge or court commissioner will determine whether to release you during your case and the conditions of your release. The judge can allow a signature bond, which requires that you pledge to pay a certain amount of money if you do not obey the requirements of your bond. The judge may order you to pay cash bail to secure your release. Whether to order a signature bond or require cash bail depends upon your prior record, ties to the community, history of missed court dates or fleeing police, danger to the community, and the seriousness of the charges. If possible, you should consult with a criminal defense lawyer before your bond hearing so that the lawyer can prepare an argument for a less restrictive signature bond. If you already have a bond, a lawyer can file a motion to reduce your cash bail or eliminate any restrictive conditions.
Initial Appearance or Intake Court
The purpose of the Initial Appearance is to ensure your identity and that you understand the charges against you. Prior to this hearing, the District Attorney will prepare a Criminal Complaint that contains the charges and probable cause. You have a right to challenge whether the complaint alleges sufficient facts to support a reasonable belief that you probably committed a crime. You should have an attorney before your Initial Appearance to ensure that you do not waive any defenses or defects at this hearing. Call or email Attorney Andrew Walter for a free consultation.
In Wisconsin felony courts, the law requires a hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that you committed a felony. The District Attorney must present evidence to convince the judge that there is probable cause. This is your first chance to see some or all of the witnesses testify against you. If the State fails to show probable cause, the judge will dismiss your case or order that the case proceed as a misdemeanor.
At Arraignment, you will enter a plea, usually not guilty unless a plea agreement is in place. The judge will schedule either a trial or other hearings depending on the circumstances of your case. In felony cases you may assert your right to a speedy trial.
Motion Hearing or Status Hearing
Hearings after the Arraignment include hearings to determine motions and Status Hearings to determine the status and future scheduling of the case. A Motion Hearing is where the judge decides on any motions filed by your attorney or the District Attorney. These hearings often involve witnesses and presentation of exhibits. The outcome of a Motion Hearing often critically influences the outcome of the case. The main purpose of Status Hearings is determining if the case is likely to settle or go to trial. If your attorney negotiates a satisfactory plea agreement, you will enter the agreement at a Status Hearing.
Jury Trial or Bench Trial
You have the right to a 12-person jury trial for any Wisconsin felony charge. The District Attorney must prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury must reach a unanimous verdict. In the alternative, you may choose a bench trial, which is trial without a jury. The judge determines the outcome of your case in a bench trial. Whether to choose a jury trial or bench trial requires the expertise of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Call or email Attorney Andrew Walter for a free consultation.
Upon any conviction, whether because of a plea agreement or conviction at trial, the judge will impose your sentence. Even if you have an agreement with the District Attorney, the judge has the final decision. Your lawyer should prepare evidence regarding your character, the seriousness of the offense, and whether you present a risk to the community. The judge may sentence you to imprisonment, give you a fine, or place you on probation.
Walter Law Offices
108 West Court Street
Elkhorn, WI 53121
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