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5 Common Credit Card Scams to Avoid,

By Tedia Gamino

If you’re like most people you own a credit card, and that means you need to be vigilant against credit card scams. Regardless of how criminals perpetrate these scams, the goal is always to lure you into providing them with sensitive personal information. The good thing is you can always dispute a transaction on your credit card that you didn’t authorize. Be aware of credit card scams like these:

  1. Call, Text, and Email Scams
  2. Online Shopping Scams
  3. Unsecure Wi-Fi Traps
  4. Credit Card Skimming
  5. Interest Rate Reduction Scams

Let’s take a closer look at each scam.

#1. Call, Text and Email Scams

Most scams are initiated through phone calls, texts, and emails, and scammers try to convince you to provide your personal and credit card details. Usually these calls or emails carry a particular sense of urgency. For instance, a phishing email may warn that a particular utility bill is due, and that if you don’t act quickly to update your billing info the utility will be disconnected. The scammer will provide a website link for you to update your information, but the link goes to a fake site where they steal your data.

#2. Online Shopping Scams

With a majority of people purchasing goods and services online, the chances of falling victim to online shopping scams are high. There are fake e-commerce websites everywhere, many of which can mimic or “spoof” legitimate ones in all aspects—including images and trademarks. These sites may use payment mechanisms that are difficult to reverse, like wire transfers, or payments using cryptocurrency.

#3. Unsecured Wi-Fi

You are a scammer’s target if you use unsecured Wi-Fi, especially in public places. Scammers monitor these signals and lay in wait to get their hands on your personal information. They may also broadcast a Wi-Fi signal, and if you use it, they can gain access to your data—they may even infect your device with malware that’s designed to steal your info.

#4. Credit Card Skimming

Credit card skimming is different from most other scams because you aren’t necessarily tricked into sharing your data. Scammers may attach a skimming device to card readers and can make copies of your card’s details to make a copycat card, or to sell your information.

#5. Interest Rate Reduction

If you owe a large amount of debt, scammers may target you and pretend to be legit companies that work to settle debt for an amount lower than you owe—for a fee. In the process you end up sharing your credit card details, which they can use to charge upfront, recurring fees without actually providing a service.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Credit Card Fraud Charges Against You?

If you’ve been charged with credit card fraud, call our office at 414-383-6700 to talk to an experienced attorney who can give you the guidance you need.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino

By |2022-11-19T10:00:35-06:00January 26th, 2023|Criminal Law|0 Comments

Can Police Pull You Over Without a Reason?

By Tedia Gamino

You could be driving home from work or an evening out when a police officer pulls you over for reasons that are unapparent to you. Many of these kinds of stops can lead to criminal charges after a search of your vehicle. But can the police pull you over without a reason?

Can Police Pull You Over Without Cause in Wisconsin?

The fact of the matter is that a police officer cannot pull you over without cause. They require reasonable suspicion in order to make a legal stop.

What Is Reasonable Suspicion When an Officer Pulls You Over?

A 2015 opinion by the Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded that any time a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that you’ve violated or are violating a traffic law, a traffic stop is justified.

Can Evidence from an Illegal Traffic Stop Be Used Against You in Court?

If a police officer didn’t have a constitutionally valid reason to pull you over, then any evidence against you stemming from an illegal search may be suppressed in court, which can lead to the dismissal of charges—even if you were arrested on drug or gun charges, for drunk driving, or any other reason. Still there are exceptions to this rule, which include the following doctrines and principles:

  • Attenuation doctrine: The attenuation doctrine means that even though evidence was obtained illegally, it may still be admissible in court if the link between the evidence and the illegal way it was obtained is adequately remote or “attenuated.”
  • Inevitable discovery: This principle allows evidence that would be suppressed—because it was obtained illegally—to be admissible in court if the State can prove that it would’ve inevitably been discovered lawfully.
  • Independent source: This is a doctrine that allows evidence that was obtained through an unlawful search, but was later independently and legally acquired, to be admissible in court.
  • Good faith doctrine: This doctrine is when a court believes that an officer acted reasonably and in good faith, given his or her circumstances.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Charges from an Illegal Traffic Stop?

If you believe you were pulled over without cause, and it resulted in a criminal charge, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your consultation with a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino

By |2022-11-19T09:36:30-06:00January 24th, 2023|Criminal Law|0 Comments

Can You Be Charged With Child Abuse in Wisconsin If You Spank Your Child?

By Tedia Gamino

For quite some time there’s been a significant debate across the country about whether or not spanking a child is abuse. Some parents say spanking is abuse, while others believe in physical discipline and subscribe to the adage: “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Wisconsin laws against child abuse are enacted to keep kids safe from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. These laws identify factors that constitute abuse.

Reckless Bodily Harm vs. Intentional Bodily Harm

Wisconsin law defines physical abuse as reckless bodily harm or intentional bodily harm to a child. In many cases it can be hard to prove whether or not abuse was reckless or intentional. Let’s look at the differences between the two.

  • Reckless Bodily Harm

Reckless abuse means that your actions resulted in an unreasonable risk of harm to a child, and that you demonstrated a knowing disregard for the child’s safety.

  • Intentional Bodily Harm

Intentional abuse means you intentionally or knowingly engaged in activities that would cause bodily harm to a child.

Discipline Laws in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law recognizes the legal right of a parent or guardian to physically discipline a child. Although, according to a strict definition of the law, spanking is an intentional act that inflicts “bodily harm,” the law permits a parent or guardian to engage in physical discipline, provided it doesn’t lead to an unreasonable risk of death, or great bodily harm to the child.

Penalties If You’re Convicted of Child Abuse in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, child abuse and failing to prevent child abuse are prosecuted as felonies. If you’re convicted of child abuse, you may spend several years in prison. You could also have your parental rights terminated, or be subject to the continual oversight of Child Protective Services.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Child Abuse Charges?

If you’ve been charged with child abuse, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys who can provide the guidance you need.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino

By |2022-11-19T09:30:37-06:00January 19th, 2023|Criminal Law|0 Comments

Can You Go to Jail for Playing Loud Music?

By Tedia Gamino

If you’re like most people, you enjoy good music from time to time. But when your neighbor blasts their favorite tunes while you’re trying to sleep, study, or enjoy some quiet time, it’s beyond annoying—it’s disruptive. When an individual disrupts you and your neighbors with loud noise and commotion over an extended period, they are in breach of peace—or disturbing the peace, in Wisconsin it is called “disorderly conduct.” While the laws that define disturbing the peace may vary from state to state, disturbing the peace may be a criminal offense or municipal ticket in Wisconsin.

Laws that punish those who disturb the peace are meant to discourage offensive acts that could annoy, harm, or threaten others.

Actions Considered to Be Disturbing the Peace

Acts of disturbing the peace include:

  • Playing loud music at night, especially if you live in an apartment building or have neighbors that live close by.
  • Fighting someone in public (except for self-defense), or challenging someone to a fight in a public space.
  • Yelling obscenities in a public setting, or using offensive language or fighting words.
  • Public intoxication
  • Knocking and banging on objects.
  • Resisting a lawful arrest.
  • Allowing excessive dog barking.

Actions That Aren’t Considered to Be Disturbing the Peace

  • Horseplay
  • Making a rude gesture to someone.
  • Embarrassing another person.
  • Annoying someone.
  • Accidentally bumping into someone.

What Can You Do as a Victim of Someone Who Disturbs the Peace?

If you’re dealing with a neighbor who’s disturbing the peace by frequently playing loud music at inappropriate times or constantly making loud noises, and you may be able to resolve the issue amicably, you might consider having a conversation with them. If the situation escalates, however, remove yourself right away.

What Is the Punishment for Disturbing the Peace?

Disturbing the peace in Wisconsin is a Class B misdemeanor, so if you’re convicted you could face jail time—up to 90 days, and/or up to a fine of $1,000. An attorney may be able to argue for a more favorable sentence, especially if you’re a first-time offender, so it’s critical that you have one.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About a Disturbing the Peace Charge?

If you’ve been charged with disturbing the peace, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers who can provide the guidance you need.

 By Attorney Tedia Gamino                                                                                 

By |2022-11-19T09:25:24-06:00January 17th, 2023|Criminal Law, Municipal Law|0 Comments

Can You Legally Hit Someone Who Provokes You?

By Tedia Gamino

Although an argument between two people may become heated, it doesn’t mean that either person should use force against the other. But is there an instance when it’s legal to hit someone who provokes you?

Can You Legally Hit Someone Who Provokes You?

Under Wisconsin law you have the right to threaten or use force against another person if you’re trying to prevent or stop unwanted physical contact. However, you may only use the amount of force (or the threat of force) that you reasonably believe is needed to prevent or stop contact. You can’t use force that’s intended to, or will likely, kill or seriously harm the individual, unless you believe that that amount of force is needed to save your life or prevent serious injury.

Can the Instigator Claim Self-Defense if They Fight You Back?

If the person who provokes you to defend yourself begins to fight you back, they can’t claim that they’re doing so in self-defense—unless your response to their provocation is so extreme that they reasonably believe their life is in danger, or that they might suffer serious bodily harm. The instigator may not, though, use force that’s intended, or likely, to cause death unless they reasonably believe that they’ve used every means within their power to escape or avoid death, or serious bodily harm, by your hand.

An individual who provokes you to use force against them with the intention of using your response as an excuse to kill you or cause you serious bodily harm doesn’t have the right to claim that their response is in self-defense. The instigator can claim a right to self-defense, however, if they withdraw from a fight with you and make their withdrawal clear.

Can You Use Force to Help Prevent a Suicide?

Wisconsin law allows you to use force against another person to stop them from committing suicide if you reasonably believe that doing so is needed to save their life. This privilege, however, doesn’t permit the use of force that’s intended, or likely, to result in death. (That would defeat the purpose of the suicide intervention).

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About an Assault Charge in Wisconsin?

If you’ve been charged with assault, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced self-defense lawyers who can provide the guidance you need.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino

By |2022-11-19T09:19:05-06:00January 12th, 2023|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Can You Legally Hit Someone Who Provokes You?

Options to Consider If You Can’t Afford to Post Bail  

By Tedia Gamino

If you’ve been arrested for a crime, you can post bail to be released from jail as you await your court date. Depending on the circumstances of your case, bail can range from hundreds of dollars, to thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands—and even into the millions. When bail is so high that you can’t afford to pay it, making it so that you have to stay in jail until your case is adjudicated, you have other options.

2 Things to Do If You Can’t Afford to Post Bail in Wisconsin

If you cannot post bail, these three options are common, and only one is allowed in Wisconsin:

  1. Ask for a lower bail amount
  2. Put up collateral
  3. Use a bail bondsman

Here’s a closer look at each option.

#1. Ask for a Lower Bail Amount

If you can’t post bail because you cannot afford to pay the set amount, your criminal defense lawyer can request that the bail be lowered because it presents an economic hardship. Decreasing the bail amount is at the discretion of the judge, so it’s important to have a criminal defense attorney who can advocate for you.

Is there an option #2. Can I put up Collateral as bail in Wisconsin?

Another way to secure your bail so that you don’t have to stay in jail is to put up collateral, in many states. Usually, this could be anything, like a car, real estate, or any other item with a value that’s equivalent to the amount of the bail. Trying to liquidate some of your assets to post bail can be a challenge and isn’t a very wise move. Instead of selling your assets, when you can put up collateral in lieu of bail, it’s a good idea to consider using them as collateral to secure your bail and get out of jail as you await your day in court. Unfortunately, bail in Wisconsin doesn’t work that way. In Wisconsin, if cash bail is ordered, you have to pay the cash (or you can use credit card, money order…). The only other bail option that doesn’t involve paying money outright is to get a signature bond. A signature bond amount is the amount you could be required to pay if you don’t comply with your bail terms.

Is there an option #3? Can you use a Bail Bondsman in Wisconsin?

In many states, you have the option to use a bail bondsman if you can’t post bail. The bondsman will pay the bail amount on your behalf and charge you a fee, which is often around 10 percent of the amount of the bail. The bondsman then has a vested interest in you showing up for court—because if you don’t show, they’ll lose the money they put up for you.  However, Wisconsin is one of a minority of states that do not allow bail bondsmen. Why can’t you use a bail bondsman in Wisconsin? The practice was abolished in Wisconsin in the 1970s.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Lowering Your Bail?

If you’ve been criminally charged and have questions about excessively high bail, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys who can provide the guidance you need, and advocate on your behalf.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino

By |2022-11-18T21:40:07-06:00January 10th, 2023|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Options to Consider If You Can’t Afford to Post Bail  

Here’s How Your Bail Is Decided   

By Tedia Gamino

If you’re charged with a crime you can post bail to be released from jail with the promise to return for trial at your appointed time. If you don’t show up for trial, you could be jailed.

When is bail set, and how is the amount determined?

When Is Bail Set?

Usually bail is set when you first appear in court after you’re arrested and charged, generally called your initial appearance.  For misdemeanor charges, this might also be your arraignment.  Bail can also be set, or changed, at a separate bail hearing.

How Is the Amount of Bail Determined?

Here are some of the factors that a judge takes into consideration when setting your bail:

  1. Your alleged crime
  2. Whether you’re a flight risk
  3. Your ties to the community
  4. Whether you have an missed court before, in this case or a prior case

Let’s explore each factor more closely.

#1. Your Alleged Crime

A judge may determine the amount of your bail based on the nature of your criminal charge. Bail for a misdemeanor may be lower than bail for a felony. Depending on the nature of the alleged crime, the judge may also order you to comply with conditions of bail deemed to protect the community, such as requiring absolute sobriety or prohibiting you from having contact with some people or places.

#2. Whether You’re a Flight Risk

Your bail amount can be based on whether or not the court considers you to be a flight risk. Often the court official (a judge or court commissioner) considers the amount of time you would be facing if convicted when deciding the amount of bail.  Some judges think you’re more likely to skip out or try to avoid court if you’re facing higher incarceration, and this may cause the court to order higher a higher bail amount.

#3. Your Ties to the Community

Usually a judge looks at your family or community ties, or if you have a job, to help ascertain whether or not you’re likely to reappear in court. The common view is that the more ties you have to the community, the less likely you are to leave the area and go on the run.  Really, a subset of determining flight risk, the higher your community connections, the less you may be seen as a flight risk, which may result in a lower bail.  Similarly, the less you have community ties, the more you may be seen as a flight risk, often resulting in a higher bail.

#4. Whether You Have Missed Court

If you’ve missed court before in this case, or if there’s been an outstanding warrant for your arrest in this case or even another jurisdiction, a judge may order a higher bail. 

Can You May Be Released on Your Own Personal Recognizance (PR bond)?

In some cases a judge may release you on your own recognizance and you do not have to post bail at all. This may be an option if you’re not a flight risk, and when conditions alone are considered sufficient to secure your appearance in court and protect the community.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Being Held Without Bail?

If you’ve been criminally charged and have questions about bail, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers who can provide the guidance you need.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino

By |2022-11-19T10:23:53-06:00December 22nd, 2022|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Here’s How Your Bail Is Decided   

4 Forms of Child Abuse and Neglect

By Tedia Gamino

According to a report from the CDC, 1,750 children in the U.S. died from abuse and neglect in 2020, and in the past year 1 in every 7 children were neglected or abused. A majority of abuse and neglect cases, though, are not reported and these unfortunate figures could be much higher. Children may suffer the abuse of parents and caregivers, and custodians like teachers, coaches, and religious leaders.

There are typically four forms of abuse and neglect:

  1. Physical abuse
  2. Sexual abuse
  3. Emotional abuse
  4. Neglect—unmet needs

Understanding the signs of each type of abuse and neglect can help you know when a child is in trouble. We’ll dive deeper into each.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is intentionally using force that can cause physical injury. The most common examples of physical abuse include shaking, kicking, hitting, and even burning.

Common signs of physical abuse include:

  • Injuries that form the shape of an object
  • Bruises and welts
  • Burns
  • Fearing to go home; fear of parents
  • Delayed medical attention
  • Fractures that don’t coincide with an explanation
  • Behavioral extremes; very withdrawn or very aggressive

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is when a child is forced or pressured to participate in sexual acts. This includes penetration, fondling, and other sexual activities.

A child who’s sexually abused may show these signs:

  • Itchy, swelling, or pain in the genital region
  • Discharge, bleeding, and bruising in the genital area
  • Venereal disease
  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Pain when urinating
  • Bloody or stained undergarments
  • An interest in sex that’s unusual for their age
  • School delinquency
  • Running away from home

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse involves acts that affect a child’s emotional well-being and self-worth. Oftentimes these acts include threatening, name-calling, withholding love, rejecting, and shaming.

Emotionally-abused children often show the following signs:

  • Self-denigration
  • Low self-esteem
  • Severe depression
  • Failure to learn
  • Extreme withdrawal
  • Unusual aggression  

Signs of Neglect

Neglect is when a child’s emotional and physical needs are not met. Such needs include food, clothing, housing, and access to medical care and education. Neglect can also mean failing to validate and appropriately respond to a child’s feelings.

Common signs of child neglect include:

  • A lack of supervision for long periods, and being left alone
  • Poor hygiene
  • Failure to go to school; frequent absences
  • Malnutrition; constant hunger
  • A lack of medical attention
  • Being inappropriately dressed for the weather

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Child Abuse or Child Neglect Charges?

If you’ve been charged with child abuse or child neglect, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys who can provide the guidance you need.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino

By |2022-11-19T10:16:40-06:00December 20th, 2022|Criminal Law, Family Law, Juvenile Law|Comments Off on 4 Forms of Child Abuse and Neglect

Is Pepper Spray Legal in Wisconsin?

By Tedia Gamino

Pepper spray is used as a means of self-defense all across the country. Since it’s considered a weapon, you’ll need to know Wisconsin state law if you plan to use this method of protection here in America’s Dairyland.

What’s in Pepper Spray?

The active ingredient in pepper spray is oleoresin capsicum (O.C.), which is an oil from the Capsicum plant and is what makes hot peppers so spicy. The higher a pepper spray’s concentration of O.C., the more intense and lasting are its effects.

Pepper spray irritates the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes, and the agitation can last as briefly as a few minutes or as long as a few hours. Inhalation of pepper spray can irritate your nose and throat, induce coughing, and make breathing difficult, which can be very harmful if you suffer from conditions like asthma or COPD.

So, Is Pepper Spray Legal in Wisconsin?

Yes, pepper spray is legal in Wisconsin, and it’s the only self-defense spray that’s legal to carry in the state. Mace, tear gas, and combinations of other chemicals, aren’t legal for the public—even if they’re mixed with pepper spray.

Here are quick facts to know about using pepper spray in Wisconsin:

  • Wisconsin law limits the amount of pepper spray you can carry to 2 oz. or less.
  • The allowable concentration of O.C. in pepper spray is limited to 10 percent of the contents of a product’s solution.
  • You must be 18 or older to buy and own pepper spray. If pepper spray is stored in a vehicle, its driver must be over the age of 18. (It’s not a good idea to store pepper spray in your glove compartment during warmer months. Pepper spray shouldn’t be stored in temperatures above 120 degrees F).
  • It’s illegal to use pepper spray in a container that’s disguised to look like something else, i.e. disguised as a can of hairspray, a writing pen, car keys, lipstick, or other such items.
  • If you’ve got a felony criminal record, you won’t be able to own or carry a defensive spray like pepper spray, or a similar chemical.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About a Concealed Weapons Charge in Wisconsin?

If you’ve been charged with carrying an electric weapon, like a stun gun or Taser, without a concealed carry license, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys who can provide the guidance you need.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino

By |2022-11-18T22:10:47-06:00December 13th, 2022|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Is Pepper Spray Legal in Wisconsin?

Is It Illegal to Use Marijuana in Wisconsin?

By Tedia Gamino

States across the country have varying laws regarding marijuana use, and many have legalized it. Marijuana is legal for adults in 21 states and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in 38 states, and D.C. Marijuana legalization was on the ballot in the 2022 mid-term elections, and Missouri and Maryland became the most recent states to vote to decriminalize cannabis, which brought the total to 21 states where the drug is legal.

So where does Wisconsin stand?

Is Marijuana Legal for Recreational and Medical Use in Wisconsin? Well, It’s Complicated

In Wisconsin, marijuana is illegal for recreational use. The Wisconsin Controlled Substances Act considers THC—the main active ingredient in marijuana that causes its psychoactive effect—to be a Schedule I controlled substance, which puts it in the same category as drugs like heroin, PCP, and LSD.

Under state law, Schedule I substances are also deemed to have no accepted medical use. There is an exception, though. Medical marijuana in Wisconsin is allowed for those who have a written letter from a doctor, and the drug cannot produce any psychoactive effects. This means Wisconsin medical marijuana is restricted to CBD. However, Wisconsin Senator Jon Erpenbach and Representative Chris Taylor introduced legislation that seeks to give qualified patients legal access to medical marijuana—with a doctor’s approval. Their proposed bills would allow the possession of up to 3 oz. of marijuana, and up to as many as 12 plants.

Penalties for Marijuana Possession

You could face stiff penalties if you’re charged with marijuana possession in Wisconsin:

  • First-offense marijuana possession—up to $1,000 in fines and/or a 6-month jail sentence.
  • A repeat offender for marijuana possession can face a felony charge with as much as 3.5 years in jail, and/or $10,000 in fines.
  • If you’re a student, you may lose federal student aid; to include grants and loans.
  • A 5-year suspension of driving privileges.

How Long Does a Marijuana Possession Charge Stay on Your Record?

If you’re convicted of marijuana possession, the possession charge remains on your record indefinitely. You may attempt to have it expunged, if you qualify for expungement.

Efforts to Decriminalize Marijuana in Wisconsin

Local jurisdictions in Wisconsin have enacted municipal laws and resolutions in an effort to partially or fully decriminalize minor recreational marijuana possession offenses. Currently, the capital city of Madison enjoys decriminalization of the possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana (on the municipal level).

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Marijuana Possession Charges?

If you’ve been charged with marijuana possession, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys who can provide the guidance you need.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino

By |2022-11-18T22:14:00-06:00December 8th, 2022|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Is It Illegal to Use Marijuana in Wisconsin?


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