FAQs On Criminal Defense

  1. Do I need a lawyer for my OWI (1st)? A: While it is true that in Wisconsin an OWI is typically a civil offense, you would be wise to seek the assistance of an attorney. Under certain circumstances, even a 1st offense OWI can be charged criminally. It is of critical importance that you understand the difference. A civil forfeiture is punishable with fines and license suspensions, but not jail or probation. A criminal OWI will carry mandatory minimum jail and the potential for probation. Penalties for a civil first offense range from fines, license suspension, requirements to undergo an alcohol assessment and that you equip a vehicle with an ignition interlock device. The assistance that a good attorney can provide is too complex to fully explore here but at a minimum, you ought to contact an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
  2. I was not read my rights, so my case will get thrown out, right? A: Wrong, not being read your Miranda rights is an issue that will affect any statement that you may have given, under certain circumstances, and could result in the suppression of your statement but likely won't result in a complete dismissal of your case. The analysis for this type of issue is very fact specific and requires an in-depth conversation with an attorney.
  3. I am not charged with a felony, so even if I am convicted it won't affect my right to possess a firearm, right? A: Possibly. Federal statutes can implicate your ability to own or even possess a firearm if the crime for which you are charged meets the definition of a violent crime of domestic abuse. So, even though Wisconsin law only prohibits possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, federal law may prevent you from possessing a firearm, depending on the facts of your case.
  4. Will my drug charges affect my eligibility for federal student loans? A: Quite likely, if you are ultimately convicted of a crime involving a controlled substance. The length of time that you are ineligible depends on the type of crime for which you are convicted, i.e. a felony or misdemeanor. There are many ways a lawyer can prevent a conviction, even if you actually possessed a controlled substance.
  5. I am not sure I can afford an attorney; you lawyers are ridiculously expensive, right? A: While the term expensive is relative, I will concede that it is not cheap to hire a good attorney. While it may sound flip, the better question is: what is the cost of not getting a good attorney? While there is a presumption of innocence in criminal matters, believe me when I say that once you get into a courtroom, the deck is stacked against you. The prosecutor and judge are likely looking for a quick guilty plea and resolution to the case. That often times is not in your best interest. The first offer may not be the best, there may be collateral consequences to a guilty plea or, you may actually be innocent. Trying to walk this minefield without a good lawyer can be treacherous at best. I cannot tell you how often I have seen a potential client take the "cheap" way out and handle a case without an attorney, to truly horrendous results.