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When is Theft a Felony in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

If the state of Wisconsin convicts you of a theft charge, you could be facing a misdemeanor or a felony. So when is theft a felony? Here’s what you need to know.

When is Theft a Felony in Wisconsin?

The state of Wisconsin bases its theft charges on the value of the stolen property. Here’s a quick look at how the property’s value affects the charges:

  • If the property has a value of $2,501 to $5,000, the charge will be for a Class I felony
  • If the property has a value of $5,001 to $10,000, the charge will be for a Class H felony
  • If the property has a value of $10,000 or more, the charge will be for a Class G felony

Sometimes the nature of the property affects the charge you’re facing, too. For example, if you’re accused of stealing a domestic animal or a firearm, it’s a Class H felony (regardless of the monetary value of either).

Even where you committed a theft can affect the charge. You can be charged with a Class H felony if you stole something from another’s person (meaning that they were holding or carrying the item when you took it), a corpse, a patient or resident of a certain facility or a vulnerable adult. It’s also a Class H felony to steal property that was moved from a building that was destroyed or unoccupied because of a disaster, riot, bombing or battle.

Related: What to know if you’re charged with theft

How Wisconsin Law Defines Theft

A jury can convict you of theft in Wisconsin if:

  • You intentionally took and carried away, or used, transferred, concealed or retained possession of someone else’s property
  • The property’s owner didn’t consent to you doing so
  • You knew that the owner didn’t consent
  • You intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property

When Theft is a Felony: Possible Penalties

Check out the possible penalties for felony theft in Wisconsin.

  • If you’re convicted of a Class I felony, in which the property is valued at $2,501 to $5,000, you could spend up to a year and a half in prison with up to 2 years of extended supervision.
  • If you’re convicted of a Class H felony, in which the property is valued between $5,001 and $10,000, or if it was a domestic animal or firearm, you could spend up to 3 years in prison with 3 years of extended supervision.
  • If you’re convicted of a Class G felony, in which the property is worth more than $10,000, you could spend 5 years in prison with 5 years of extended supervision.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About When Theft is a Felony in Wisconsin?

If you’re charged with theft – regardless of whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony – you may want to talk to an attorney about your case. Having a theft conviction on your record can seriously impact your future, so it’s best to inform yourself before you go to court.

Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to an attorney. We’ll answer your questions, explain the possible penalties you’re facing and start building a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:13:13-06:00January 11th, 2021|Criminal Law|0 Comments

Can You Be Convicted in Civilian and Military Court? Is That Double Jeopardy?

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re a member of the Wisconsin National Guard or another military reserve component, can you be tried by both the military and civilians? It’s a common question – and one that gets “barracks lawyers” debating for hours. Here’s what you need to know about military and civilian trials, and why some people think (incorrectly) that that’s double jeopardy.

Is Being Tried by the Military and Civilians Considered Double Jeopardy?

First things first: Double jeopardy refers to a situation in which the state prosecutes a person twice for the same events. That means if you’re accused of committing a crime, the state tries you, and the state acquits you (finds that you’re not guilty), they can’t put you on trial for the same crime again. Your right to remain safe from being subject to double jeopardy is enshrined in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. There are some caveats, though – and that includes situations that involve the military.

If you’re in the military, you’re subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice as well as to civilian laws. When local authorities and the military want to bring charges against you, they both can. Likewise, even if you’re acquitted in civilian court, the military can bring charges against you (and vice-versa).

What is Article 44 of the UCMJ?

Article 44 of the UCMJ says, “No person may, without his consent, be tried a second time for the same offense.” However, that only applies to the military. It means the military can’t try you twice for the same offense.

Tip: Article 44 doesn’t apply to adverse administrative actions. It only applies to judicial criminal proceedings. If you’re subject to non-judicial punishment, you can still be subject to a court-martial.

Separate or Dual Sovereignty

The state of Wisconsin is a separate entity from the military, which means that if civilians try you for any crime, the military can try you for it, too. That’s why, when people get into trouble for something like an OWI or shoplifting, or they pick up prostitution or child pornography charges between drill weekends, they hope that the military doesn’t find out about it.

What to Do if You’re in the Guard or Reserves and You’re Arrested

If you’re in the military, you could face two trials – one from civilians and one from the military. Even if the civilian court convicts you, the military can try you again for the same crime. (In fact, the military often does try people for the same crime so it can impose its own penalties, such as loss of rank or time in Leavenworth.) You probably want to call an attorney to help you with the civilian side of things; your case is likely to go through civilian court before or at the same time as it’s moving through the military justice system.

If you’ve been arrested for any crime, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to a caring, knowledgeable and experienced professional who can point you in the right direction.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:57:31-06:00January 4th, 2021|Criminal Law|0 Comments

Does an OWI Stay on Your Wisconsin Criminal Record Forever?

By Carlos Gamino

If the state of Wisconsin convicts you of operating while intoxicated, or OWI, will it stay on your criminal record forever? How will the record impact your future, and what happens if you get another OWI with one in your past? Here’s what you need to know.

How Long Does an OWI Stay on Your Record in Wisconsin?

An OWI stays on your record forever in the state of Wisconsin. It doesn’t “fall off” after a certain period of time has passed. In fact, any drunk driving offense you’ve picked up since 1989 builds up in your lifetime total, which can affect future sentencing.

Future Sentencing With an OWI in Your Past

A prior DUI can affect current or future OWI sentencing. The number of prior DUI offenses you have determines the penalty you’ll face. Check out the following table for more information.

ConvictionFine and Jail TimeDriving Consequences
First offense OWIFine: $150 to $300Revocation: 6 to 9 months
Causing injury while OWI with no prior OWI offense or chemical test refusalFine: $300 to $2,000 Jail time: 30 days to 1 yearRevocation: 1 to 2 years plus confinement length
Causing injury while OWIL with prior OWI offense or chemical test refusalFine: Up to $10,000
Jail time: Up to 6 years
Revocation: 1 to 2 years plus confinement length
Causing great bodily harm by OWIFine: Up to $25,000
Jail time: Up to 12.5 years
Revocation: 2 years plus confinement length
Homicide while OWI with no prior OWIFine: Up to $100,000
Jail time: Up to 25 years
Revocation: 5 years plus confinement length
Homicide while OWI with a prior OWI-related offenseFine: Up to $100,000
Jail time: Up to 40 years
Revocation: 5 years plus confinement length
Second offense OWI with no prior OWI within 10 years, and with no great bodily harm or homicide by intoxicated use during your lifeFine: $150 to $300Revocation: 6 to 9 months
Second offense OWI with prior OWI within 10 years, or an offense with great bodily harm or homicide by intoxicated use at any prior point during your lifeFine: $350 to $1,100 Jail time: 5 days to 6 monthsRevocation: 12 to 18 months plus confinement length
Third offense OWIFine: $600 to $1,200 Jail time: 45 days to 1 yearRevocation: 2 to 3 years plus confinement length
Fourth offense OWIFine: $600 to $10,000
Jail time: 60 days to 6 years
Revocation: 2 to 3 years plus confinement length
Fifth or sixth offense OWIFine: $600 to $25,000 Jail time: Up to 10 yearsRevocation: 2 to 3 years plus confinement length
Seventh, eighth or ninth offense OWIFine: Up to $25,000
Jail time: 3 to 12.5 years
Revocation: 2 to 3 years plus confinement length
Tenth offense OWIFine: Up to $50,000
Jail time: 4 to 15 years
Revocation: 2 to 3 years plus confinement length

What if You’re Accused of OWI?

If you’ve been arrested for operating while intoxicated, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to a caring, knowledgeable and experienced professional who can answer your questions and help you get the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:29:15-06:00January 3rd, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|0 Comments

Can You Get Out of an OWI in Wisconsin? 3 Ways to Get Your OWI Dismissed

By Carlos Gamino

If you’ve been arrested for operating while intoxicated, or OWI, you’ve probably wondered if there’s any way you can get out of it. In some cases, yes, it is possible to get an OWI dismissed. Here’s what you need to know.

Can You Get Out of an OWI in Wisconsin? 3 Ways to Get Your OWI Dismissed

First things first: There is no way to predict how a judge will rule. Any attorney who tells you he or she will “for sure” get your OWI dismissed isn’t being entirely honest with you. Sure, there are many circumstances in which it’s possible to have an OWI dismissed – but ultimately, it’s up to the legal system to make that decision, not your lawyer.

There are some ways that attorneys are able to get OWI cases dismissed in Wisconsin, however, including:

  • Challenging the results of a breath test
  • Proving that police stopped you illegally
  • Showing that the police did not have probable cause to administer a breath test

This isn’t a complete list. Your attorney will review your case and make a determination about the best possible defense based on your situation. However, here’s a closer look at the ways attorneys can sometimes get OWI cases dismissed.

Related: Will you go to jail for OWI, second offense in Wisconsin?

OWI Dismissal Situation #1: Challenging the Results of a Breath Test

Judges can dismiss an OWI case when an attorney can prove that the breath test was inaccurate. There’s a lot of science on why breath tests can come up wrong, whether they’re administered the wrong way, whether you are on a medication or have a medical condition that could affect the test results, or whether the device was improperly calibrated or inaccurate by nature.

OWI Dismissal Situation #2: Proving That Police Stopped You Illegally

The police must have a valid reason for stopping you while you’re driving. A law enforcement officer can stop you if you:

  • Violate a traffic law
  • Have an equipment violation (like a burned-out turn signal)
  • Are driving erratically

They can also stop you if your vehicle fits the description of a vehicle involved in a crime, or if you roll up to a traffic checkpoint.

If the police stop you illegally, your attorney may be able to get your case thrown out of court.

OWI Dismissal Situation #3: Showing That the Police Did Not Have Probable Cause to Administer a Breath Test

Police can’t just stop you for having a broken taillight or speeding and require you to take a breath test. Law enforcement officers must reasonably believe that you are intoxicated before requesting that you take a breath-alcohol test.

If the police stop you and you deny that you’ve been drinking, and you refuse to take a field sobriety test, the officer really doesn’t have anything to prove that you’re drunk (other than the way you were driving or the way you’re acting during your interaction. He or she might request that you take a breath test, and that may be completely valid – especially if the officer smells alcohol on your breath or watched you stumble out of a bar and into your car.

Pro tip: If you refuse to take a breath test, you do so at your own risk. You could lose your license for at least a year.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Get Out of an OWI in Wisconsin?

For most people, the best way to approach an OWI – and any other criminal case, for that matter – is to work with an experienced attorney. Attorneys are in and out of court every day, and they know what works according to the law (and what doesn’t).

If you’ve been arrested for OWI, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to a caring, knowledgeable and experienced professional who can point you in the right direction.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:26:55-06:00December 28th, 2020|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Can You Get Out of an OWI in Wisconsin? 3 Ways to Get Your OWI Dismissed

Can You Join the Military if You’ve Been Convicted of a Crime?

By Carlos Gamino

When you want to join the military – any branch (including the brand-new Space Force) – the military is going to conduct a background check on you. It’s not just an ordinary background check, either; your recruiter will take your fingerprints and require you to sign a form that says you consent to an FBI background check.

So what if the recruiter finds something on your record? What if you were arrested just after high school? What if you were convicted of a crime?

Here’s what you need to know.

Can You Join the Military With a Criminal History?

In some cases, you’re allowed to join the military with a criminal history. For example, if you have a juvenile record for shoplifting or another “minor” crime, your recruiter may be able to get you a waiver that allows you to join. Likewise, if you were arrested because police suspected you of a crime, but the state dropped the charges or you were eventually found not guilty, the recruiter can most likely help you join the military (provided you meet all the other requirements, that is).

Related: Bouncing back after a conviction

Wisconsin Expungement and the Military

If you were arrested and released without being charged, or if the charges were dropped or dismissed, you may be able to have your record expunged easily. Likewise, if you were convicted of a prostitution offense because you were a victim of human trafficking, you can ask the court to expunge those convictions immediately.

If you were convicted of a crime, you may be able to clear your record through criminal record expungement so you don’t have to deal with the waiver process, which can take several weeks (and can be denied for any reason). Expungement isn’t for everyone, though – you have to meet certain criteria to qualify. The court can only erase your criminal record if:

  • You were under the age of 25 when you committed the crime
  • The crime carried a maximum period of imprisonment of six years or less
  • You have successfully completed the terms of your sentence

Expungement may be the best way into the military if you have a criminal record. If you meet the criteria for expungement, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to an attorney about your situation.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:47:49-06:00December 15th, 2020|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Can You Join the Military if You’ve Been Convicted of a Crime?

Do Shoplifters Go to Jail? Wisconsin Penalties for Shoplifting

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Retail theft – commonly known as shoplifting – is a serious crime in Wisconsin. Even stealing a small item that costs under $1 can land you in serious hot water with the legal system, so here’s what you need to know.

Do Shoplifters Go to Jail in Wisconsin?

Shoplifters can, and do, go to jail in Wisconsin. While you’re unlikely to end up in jail the first time you steal something small, it’s possible.

Shoplifting is typically a Class A misdemeanor, which means you could spend up to 9 months in jail and pay up to $10,000 in fines if a court convicts you of the crime. If the value of the merchandise exceeds $2,500, shoplifting becomes a felony. (There’s a big difference between a candy bar and a diamond ring.)

When Can the State Prove That You Shoplifted and Send You to Jail?

A jury can convict you of theft if you:

  • Took something from someone else, or you used, transferred or concealed it
  • The owner of the property you took did not consent
  • You knew the owner did not consent
  • You meant to keep it away from its rightful owner forever

Even removing a theft detection device, or having a theft detection shielding device or removal device ni your possession can get you into trouble.

Related: Your rights when you’re accused of shoplifting

What if You’re Accused of Shoplifting?

Once you have a criminal record, it’s permanent – it’ll follow you everywhere you go unless you qualify to have it expunged from your record. That’s why many people choose to work with a shoplifting defense attorney in Wisconsin.

If you’ve been accused of shoplifting, call us for a free consultation; we may be able to help. We’re available at 414-383-6700. We can answer your questions, tell you what types of penalties you may be facing, and explain what happens next – and we can work on developing a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:03:30-06:00December 14th, 2020|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Do Shoplifters Go to Jail? Wisconsin Penalties for Shoplifting

What Happens if You Pretend to Be a Cop in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Dressing up as law enforcement for Halloween and pretending to be a cop are two very different things – and one could land you behind very real bars. Here’s what you need to know about what happens if you pretend to be a cop in Wisconsin.

What Happens if You Pretend to Be a Cop in Wisconsin?

Impersonating a police officer is a Class A misdemeanor in Wisconsin – under most circumstances. That means if you walk around in a police officer’s uniform, leading people to believe that you’re a cop, provided you’re not committing any other crime, you could go to jail for up to 9 months and pay fines of up to $10,000.

If you impersonate a police officer so you can pull off another crime, though, you’re looking at a Class H felony. You could even spend up to 3 years in prison with an additional 3 years of extended supervision (and a fine of up to $10,000) if you’re convicted.

The key is your intent when it comes to pretending to be a cop. If you go to a costume party with a replica of a police officer’s uniform, people might look twice – but they’ll generally know that you’re not really trying to make them believe you’re a police officer. However, if you don a police uniform, pull out a badge while you’re in a store, tell someone you’re a police officer or otherwise try to convince someone that you’re official, that’s when you risk getting into trouble.

Related: Criminal penalties in Wisconsin

Do You Need a Lawyer if You Got Caught Pretending to Be a Cop?

If you’ve been arrested for impersonating a police officer, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now for a free consultation. We can answer your questions, tell you about the types of penalties you might be facing, and start developing a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:23:36-06:00December 13th, 2020|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What Happens if You Pretend to Be a Cop in Wisconsin?

Getting an Occupational License After OWI in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know

By Carlos Gamino

The state of Wisconsin allows some people to get an occupational license after an OWI – but not everyone gets one. Here’s what you need to know.

What is an Occupational License in Wisconsin?

An occupational license is a restricted driver’s license that lets you drive to certain places at certain times when your driving privileges have been suspended or revoked. You can use an occupational license to drive to work, school, the doctor, the grocery store, church and other places that are necessary for you to go – but you have to ask the state for it.

Can You Get an Occupational License After an OWI in Wisconsin?

You may be able to get an occupational license after an OWI in Wisconsin. To do so, you have to file a petition with the Department of Motor Vehicles and pay a filing fee. You also have to submit proof that you have the appropriate type of insurance.

An occupational license is not guaranteed – the DMV can (and will) turn you down if you don’t meet the criteria or if your driving is a risk to others on Wisconsin roadways.

Related: What to know about OWI defenses

What is the Waiting Period for an Occupational License in Wisconsin?

Depending on the reason your driving privileges were suspended or revoked, you may have to wait before you can apply for an occupational license. For example, if you have a second or third (or subsequent) OWI, you have to wait at least 45 days after your conviction before you’re even eligible for an occupational license. You may have to wait longer; if the OWI involved bodily injury, great bodily harm or homicide, or if you refused a chemical test at the time of the offense, your waiting period will be different.

Do You Have to Be a Professional Driver to Get an Occupational License?

Despite the name, you do not have to be a professional driver to get an occupational license. You may be able to get this type of restricted license to go to any job, to take your kids to school (or to attend school yourself), to go to church or conduct “household business,” like going to the grocery store and paying bills.

How Much Can You Drive With an Occupational License?

You can drive up to 60 hours each week if you have an occupational license (but no more than 12 hours of driving time in one day). You’ll have to list where you’ll go – such as your work or school address – and provide times that you expect to be on the road when you fill out your application.

What if You’ve Been Arrested for OWI?

If you’ve been arrested for OWI in Wisconsin, it’s probably in your best interest to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. We may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to an experienced attorney.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:32:37-06:00December 7th, 2020|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Getting an Occupational License After OWI in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know

What is Sentence Modification in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Sentence modification – commonly called a time cut – is a form of relief available to some people in Wisconsin. In some cases, it’s possible to get an existing sentence reduced or changed. However, there’s no way to predict how a judge will rule; in the legal system, everything goes on a case-by-case basis.

How Sentencing Modification Works

A sentencing modification works with the introduction of a motion. That means someone asks the court to do something. If you want your sentence modified, you would petition the court to make a change for you. You might ask the court to lessen your jail time, probation or community service time, or you might ask for a reduction in fines.

Can the Judge Change the Sentence?

For the most part, a judge’s ruling is final. If the judge says you must complete 100 hours of community service and pay $5,000 in fines, that’s usually the end of it. However, if something happens – like you lose your job – you might want to ask the court to lighten up your fines. In some cases, judges can change an original sentence.

Related: Truth in sentencing in Wisconsin

How Can You Qualify for Sentence Modification?

If you’re thinking about asking the court to modify your sentence, you probably want to consult with an attorney. In some cases, it’s not possible to ask the court to change your sentence – and your attorney will have the most current information for you. Your lawyer will also be able to explain what types of relief you’re entitled to ask for (such as a reduction in fines or fewer community service hours), or whether you’ll be able to ask the judge to shorten your jail or prison sentence.

What to Do if You Want to Ask for Sentence Modification in Wisconsin

You need to make sure you qualify for sentence modification before you ask the court. For that reason, most people choose to work with an attorney. You can always call us at 414-383-6700 to talk to someone about your case. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you get moving in the right direction.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:00:35-06:00December 7th, 2020|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What is Sentence Modification in Wisconsin?

What Are Your Rights if You’re Stopped by Police?

Your Rights if You’re Stopped by Police - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, you know that you have some rights when you’re stopped by the police – but what are they, and where do your rights end? Here’s what you need to know.

Your Rights if You’re Stopped by Police on the Street

Being stopped by the police is scary, especially when you know that things can go badly quickly. The last thing you want to do is escalate a situation with the police, but no matter what happens, you do have rights. You have these rights regardless of your legal status in the United States, whether or not you’re guilty of a crime, and in every location where you may encounter police.

You may be stopped by police in public, such as when you’re walking down the street, or when you’re pulled over in a car. Police can even come to your door. One thing remains the same: You have rights, and it’s okay for you to assert them. And while it’s never your responsibility to deescalate a situation with the police (that is their responsibility), you should avoid doing anything that could cause police to react in an unfavorable way. So what are your rights if the police stop you while you’re walking down the street?

You always have the right to remain silent when you encounter police. The police have the right to demand that you identify yourself, though – and if you choose not to, they may choose to search you. If you refuse to identify yourself, the police might think you’re up to something. Your right to remain silent means that you don’t have to answer questions about where you’re going or coming from, where you live or what you’re doing.

If you choose to use your right to remain silent, you should say so out loud. That can be as simple as saying, “I would like to use my right to remain silent.”

Related: What to do if police violate your rights

You don’t have to consent to a search, either of yourself or your belongings – but the police are allowed to pat you down if they believe you have a weapon. Remember, too, that even if you don’t consent to a search, the police might still choose to search you or your belongings against your will.

What to Do if Police Stop You

If the police stop you, keep your hands in plain view and don’t make any sudden movements. You can assert your right to remain silent, but know that if you do so, the police might think that you’re guilty of something – and they may arrest you. Don’t talk about where you were going, what you were doing or where you were; let the police know you’d like to speak to an attorney before you have any kind of conversation with them.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer Because You’ve Encountered Police?

If you’ve been arrested for any crime, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to a caring, knowledgeable and experienced professional who can point you in the right direction.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T15:26:24-05:00November 30th, 2020|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on What Are Your Rights if You’re Stopped by Police?