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Criminal Defense Archives

Study reveals that race affects plea offers and convictions

The plea offers and sentences that criminal defendants in Wisconsin ultimately receive may partially depend on whether they are black or white, according to a new study. Black people, including those who have no criminal records, are much likelier than whites to receive harsher convictions and sentences.

Probable cause and expectations of privacy

The protections of the Fourth Amendment against unlawful searches and seizures by law enforcement officers is an important part of the Constitution and our legal system. Determining the legality of a search is an important part of many criminal cases. There are two legal terms that have a substantial impact on whether or not a warrantless search is considered legal. Wisconsin residents may benefit from a better understanding of this law.

Unreasonable delay of criminal trial could violate rights

An arrest by Wisconsin law enforcement authorities that result in criminal charges being filed initiates a defendant's rights under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Under this part of the Bill of Rights, a criminal defendant has a right to a speedy trial although the circumstances of the case could support reasonable delays.

Differences between a misdemeanor and a felony

Wisconsin has several different categories for crimes depending on their severity. In general, the state categorizes a crime as an infraction, a misdemeanor or a felony. An infraction usually includes crimes that are not particularly serious, like certain traffic violations. As long as the associated fine is paid, a person usually will not be sentenced to any jail time. For misdemeanors and felonies, however, the consequences can be more serious.

Taking a plea bargain

A defendant in a criminal case can face many confusing situations as the case goes on. One of these is the plea bargain. At some point in the case, the prosecutor may put an offer on the table. If the defendant agrees to take the offer, there will be no trial. In exchange, prosecutors typically offer incentives like a reduced sentence or lesser charges. For some types of minor crimes, you may even have the option of avoiding jail time instead of serving probation.

Concealing exculpatory evidence may result in a mistrial

Wisconsin residents likely know that criminal suspects are guaranteed due process by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and they may also know that prosecutors are required to hand over all exculpatory evidence to defense attorneys during the discovery process. Mistrials may be declared when defendants in criminal cases are denied access to evidence that could either help to exonerate them or implicate another, but prosecutors who commit what are known as Brady violations rarely face any sanctions.

How one bar fight can change your life

Okay, the game last night got a bit rowdy or maybe your buddy ran into that old college rival and things got out of hand. Now what? If an altercation occurred, Wisconsin will treat it as a battery claim. There are three levels of battery between two adults who are not related to each other: (1) battery; (2) substantial battery; and, (3) aggravated battery. Domestic abuse is treated in much the same way but imposes special surcharges.

How plea bargains impact defendants

A plea bargain may be offered in a case to avoid Wisconsin courts from being too crowded and prosecutors to focus on the important cases. It also allows defendants to save time and money defending themselves. There are three main types of plea bargains commonly offered to defendants. Charge bargaining occurs when a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a more serious charge being dropped. For instance, an individual may enter a guilty plea on a manslaughter charge to avoid a possible conviction for murder.

Got Labor Day plans? 3 reasons the social host ordinance isn't as fun as it sounds.

It's been a hectic few weeks, and the next few don't promise to ease up their frenetic pace. In the chaos that is your life, Labor Day appears as an oasis of tranquility. You and your roommate decide to grill out with a few pals, hoist some brews and raise a toast to the new season. Unfortunately, your barbeque Facebook invite has made the rounds and thirty "likes" later, you have a bigger shindig on your hands than you had initially planned. But you're over 21 and the party's not out of control, so it's all good, right?

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