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Misdemeanor Charges in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Misdemeanors

Wisconsin Misdemeanor Charges: Do I Need a Lawyer?

When considering whether or not you need a lawyer if you are facing misdemeanor charges in Wisconsin, remember that even though they are less serious than felonies, misdemeanor convictions will appear on your criminal record. You will also face substantial fines, imprisonment, and probation, not to mention increased penalties for any future convictions. For these reasons, it is always advisable to consult a defense attorney when facing such charges. If you have been arrested on a misdemeanor, contact a criminal defense attorney at Eisenberg Law Offices right away to protect yourself.

Misdemeanor Charges vs. Felony Charges in Wisconsin

Felonies and misdemeanors sound very different, and misdemeanors sound less serious, but they have more in common than you may realize. The repercussions are severe in both cases.

  • Imprisonment Location. In WI, felonies are any offense that is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison. All other crimes are considered misdemeanors. That creates a very thin line between felonies and misdemeanors since misdemeanors can also include incarceration, just not in a state prison. Imprisonment for a misdemeanor takes place in a county jail.

Misdemeanors are very closely related to felonies. The slightest change in facts, such as the weight of drugs found on your person, can change a felony charge to a misdemeanor or vice versa.

Common Misdemeanor Charges

Some of the most common misdemeanor charges in the state are:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Intimidating witnesses and/or victims
  • Possession of some drugs
  • Theft
  • Battery

Penalties for Misdemeanor Convictions

Wisconsin has three classes of misdemeanors – A, B, and C. Each one is associated with certain offenses and related punishments under WI Code § 939.51. If a misdemeanor does not fall under a listed penalty class, penalties are applied under provisions of WI Code § 939.61: Penalty When None Expressed.

Under WI Code § 939.51, the following penalties apply to misdemeanor convictions:

  • Class A Misdemeanor. Up to 9 months imprisonment in a county jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines
  • Class B Misdemeanor. Up to 90 days imprisonment in a county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines
  • Class C Misdemeanor. Up to 30 days imprisonment in a county jail and/or up to $500 in fines
  • Unspecified State Misdemeanor. This type of conviction defaults to a Class C offense that is punishable by up to 30 days in county jail and/or up to $500 in fines.

Penalties for misdemeanors typically increase based on the offender’s criminal history. A first-time marijuana conviction is a misdemeanor, but a second conviction for the same offense is considered a Class I felony.

Misdemeanor Defenses Options

There are several strong defense options for misdemeanor charges in Wisconsin. These defenses can be used to beat the charges, reduce the charges, or reduce the sentencing.

  • Double Jeopardy. The double jeopardy clause of the 5th amendment means that defendants cannot be charged with a misdemeanor if they have already been tried and acquitted of felony charges. If you have been tried and acquitted for a crime once already, your attorney would mount a double jeopardy defense to protect you.
  • Lack of Probable Cause. Prosecutors must provide proof of probable cause to bring charges. If they cannot provide this proof or cannot provide adequate proof, your attorney can move to dismiss the charges.
  • Necessity & Duress. In some cases, the defendant engaged in unlawful acts to prevent a more serious crime from occurring. Suspects may also have acted under duress if they were threatened with harm if they did not act. If your attorney can prove that you acted to prevent a more serious crime, you can mount a necessity defense. The duress defense can be used if the crime that was committed was less serious than the threat of injury.

Contact Eisenberg Law Offices for Representation Against Misdemeanor Charges in Wisconsin

In addition to any fines, penalties, or imprisonment you’ll face, a conviction on misdemeanor charges will have many indirect consequences on your life because it shows up on your criminal record. You may have trouble finding or keeping a job. You might lose visitation rights with your children. You may lose your driver’s license or professional license and be barred from certain professions. You might have trouble obtaining loans and may lose certain rights and privileges.

For these reasons and more, we must answer yes, when asked if a person should retain a defense attorney when facing misdemeanor charges. The stakes are simply too high and too far-reaching to leave to chance.

If you are facing misdemeanor charges in Wisconsin, contact Eisenberg Law Offices at 608-256-8356 or to schedule a free case consultation.



Eisenberg Law has successfully represented our clients in thousands of Personal Injury, Criminal Defense and Family Law Cases during our 30-plus years in business.