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Wisconsin Sex Offender Registration FAQ

By Carlos Gamino

In Wisconsin, some convictions require people to register as sex offenders. What that means is that people must register with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registry, which tracks people who have been convicted of sex offenses and shares information with the public. If you’ve been convicted of a sex offense and must register with the Wisconsin DOC, you may find this sex offender registration FAQ helpful.

Sex Offender Registration FAQ

These are common questions about sex offender registration in Wisconsin:

  • How do I get off the sex offender registry in Wisconsin?
  • Can sex offenders go to amusement parks?
  • Can sex offenders be pardoned?
  • Can sex offenders move to different states?
  • Does being a sex offender show up on a background check?

Here’s a closer look at each.

#1. How do I get off the sex offender registry in Wisconsin?

Some sentences require you to stay on the sex offender registry permanently. However, after a certain amount of time has passed and if there are no other offenses, some people can petition the court to ask to be taken from the registry. You should contact an attorney about your options if you think you may be eligible to be taken off the sex offender registry.

Related: Can you get sex crimes off your record?

#2. Can sex offenders go to amusement parks?

Generally speaking, sex offenders are prohibited from going to places “frequented by children,” so most amusement parks are off-limits. Many parks also have policies that ban people with sex-related convictions, as well.

#3. Can sex offenders be pardoned?

Sex offenders can be pardoned. However, obtaining a pardon from the governor of Wisconsin isn’t easy – and if you intend to try, you may need help from an attorney.

#4. Can sex offenders move to different states?

Sex offenders can move to different states. However, if you’re required to register in Wisconsin and move to another state, you will have to let law enforcement know that you’re moving – and you must find out what you have to do to register in your new state. If you fail to register in your new state, you will get caught, and that will lead to a whole host of other problems.

Related: What you need to know about internet sex crimes

#5. Does being a sex offender show up on a background check?

Being a sex offender can show up on a background check. The crimes that landed you on the sex offender registry in the first place will show up, and if your prospective employer checks the sex offender registry, your name will come up.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About a Sex Offense?

If you’re accused of a sex offense, the best thing you can do is get legal counsel. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your free consultation – we may be able to defend you in court and help you get the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T06:28:37-06:00February 24th, 2021|Criminal Law|0 Comments

Common OWI Plea Bargains

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, you know that a plea bargain is a deal with the prosecutor in a criminal case. In a plea bargain, the prosecutor offers a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence or an agreement to drop other charges. But can you use a plea bargain in an OWI case?

Can You Use a Plea Bargain in an OWI Case?

You can use a plea bargain in an OWI case in Wisconsin if the prosecutor agrees to it. Your attorney will most likely talk to the prosecutor about your case before you ever go to trial, which means they’ll have the opportunity to strike a bargain.

One type of plea deal that people use in Wisconsin after an OWI is referred to as “wet reckless.” Essentially, you’ll be agreeing that you drove recklessly while under the influence, which helps you avoid an OWI conviction and still gets the prosecutor a “win.”

That’s not to say that all prosecutors will think this type of deal is a good one – or that they’ll even agree to it. These types of plea deals are most common in cases where the person has no other convictions and their blood alcohol content wasn’t too far over the legal limit at the time of the offense.

Related: OWI vs. DUI in Wisconsin

Could a Wet Reckless Plea Deal Be the Right Choice for You?

The bottom line is that if a court convicts you of reckless driving, you’ll still face serious penalties. However, the penalties are not as harsh as they are for drunk driving – and that may make it a worthwhile choice in your situation. You should absolutely discuss the pros and cons of accepting a plea deal with your attorney, who can give you case-specific advice, tell you about possible outcomes, and answer all of your questions.

Do You Need to Talk to an OWI Attorney in Wisconsin?

If you’ve been charged with OWI, we may be able to help you – we defend our clients in a variety of ways, including seeking OWI plea bargains when appropriate. Call our office at 414-383-6700 to tell us about your case. We’ll answer all your questions and do what we can to get you the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T06:25:50-06:00February 22nd, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|0 Comments

Do I Need a Lawyer for a First-Time DUI/OWI?

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re facing drunk driving charges, there’s a good chance that you’re pretty concerned about the process ahead of you – and that’s totally normal. You may be wondering whether you need a lawyer for a first-time DUI or OWI charge in Wisconsin, what the possible penalties are, and whether your OWI will stay on your record forever. This guide explains.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a First-Time DUI/OWI in Wisconsin?

Any time you’re involved in the legal system, you’re entitled to legal counsel – it’s your right. Whether you choose to work with a lawyer is up to you, though. For most people, working with an attorney is incredibly important. A Wisconsin OWI attorney can explain the laws and the legal process, answer your questions and get you the best possible outcome in court.

Related: OWI dismissal information

Penalties for a First Time OWI in Wisconsin

If nobody is injured, you don’t wreck your vehicle or someone else’s property, and there are no other unusual circumstances in your first OWI case, the penalties are generally as follows:

  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 9 months
  • Fines up to $300
  • A $365 OWI surcharge
  • Possible ignition interlock device (IID), depending on your intoxication level at the time of the incident
  • Mandatory alcohol and drug assessment
  • Driver’s license reinstatement fee when you apply for a new license

Things change if there’s a minor under the age of 16 in the car with you at the time of the offense, or if you get into an accident, someone is injured or killed, or you damage other property. In cases like these, it doesn’t matter if it’s your first offense – you will pick up additional criminal charges or face additional criminal penalties.

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

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a First-Time DUI/OWI in Wisconsin?

If you’ve been accused of driving under the influence or operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, whether it’s your first offense or your fifth, we may be able to help you. There are defenses to OWI in Wisconsin. Call our office at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation. We can answer your questions, discuss possible outcomes and give you the case-specific legal advice you need right now.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T06:23:30-06:00February 17th, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|0 Comments

What is an Appeal?

By Carlos Gamino

An appeal is a request for a higher court to review a lower court’s decision – and in many criminal cases, it’s a logical next step. Here’s what you need to know.

What is an Appeal?

When a judge makes a bad decision, you could be eligible to file an appeal. That means you would go to the next-higher court (the appeals court) and ask a different judge to take a look at the original judge’s decision.

Related: 10 common legal terms you need to know

What Are the Reasons for an Appeal?

There are several reasons a person may want to appeal a criminal conviction – but simply disagreeing with a judge’s decision isn’t likely to get your case heard in an appeals court. Generally speaking, you must have legal basis for an appeal, which means something in the law says your case’s outcome was wrong.

Some of the most common reasons people choose to file appeals include:

  • Ineffective assistance of counsel, which means your lawyer during the original trial didn’t do things he or she should have. That can mean your attorney didn’t call a key witness on your behalf, talk to you about a plea deal the prosecutor offered or did something that showed legal incompetence.
  • Problems with evidence, such as the inclusion or exclusion of certain evidence – or even a lack of sufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict.
  • Plain error, which covers things like mistakes the judge makes during the trial, sentencing errors after your conviction or errors in jury instructions.

Related: More common reasons to appeal a criminal case

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Appealing Your Case?

You may be eligible to file an appeal for many reasons – and if you think you are, you should talk to an attorney. You can call our office at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to discuss your case, find out whether we can help you, and give you advice you can use to start moving forward.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T06:19:59-06:00February 10th, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What is an Appeal?

How to Tell Kids About Divorce

By Carlos Gamino

As a parent, divorcing your spouse is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do – next to breaking the news to your children. Here’s how to tell kids about divorce and how to encourage them to share their feelings.

How to Tell Kids About Divorce

Leading psychologists agree that the vast majority of children can weather the storm of divorce and come out just fine on the other side – but that doesn’t stop parents from worrying about missteps along the way. How you tell your children about your divorce can set the tone for the rest of the process (and beyond), so it’s incredibly important that you approach the situation properly.

With that said, kids of different ages need to be told in different ways. Ideally, though, you and your spouse will sit the whole family down together and break the news – and you’ll both reassure them that you love them no matter what happens. You’ll also tell them that you’ll both be there for them to talk, answer questions and provide comfort.

Related: The effects of divorce on kids

Tips for How to Tell Kids About Divorce

Although we can’t tell you exactly what to say, because you know your children (and how they’ll respond) best, we can give you these guidelines:

  • Plan what you’ll say ahead of time. Don’t hold a spur-of-the-moment family meeting; instead, talk to your spouse about what you’re going to say (and what you’re not going to say), and plan on a response to use if you don’t know the answer to something.
  • Talk to your kids together. If possible – and certainly only in the absence of domestic violence – you and your spouse should sit down with the children together. Presenting a united front now can make things easier on them.
  • Don’t assign blame. Your kids love you both equally, and it hurts them if you blame each other. Don’t point the finger at the other party, no matter who’s at fault for your divorce.
  • Tell your kids – without details – what’s happening. Kids need to know that they’ll be living in two separate homes and that you’ll no longer be married, but they don’t need to hear any grisly details. Those are for adults only, and telling your children why you’re divorcing (outside the fact that you can’t repair your relationship or that you both want different things from your lives) will make them want to take sides; that can be psychologically harmful.
  • Explain that some things will change while others remain the same. Kids are primarily interested in how your divorce will affect them, so tell them what will change and what will remain the same. You can talk about school, where the kids will live, how they’ll be able to see their friends and other issues that matter to them – and above all, let them know your love for them will never change.
  • Reassure your kids. Your kids need to know that you’ll be there for them, no matter what – and now is the best time to tell them.

Related: Keeping your kids out of your divorce

Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin Divorce Attorney?

If you’re considering divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, we may be able to help you get the best possible outcome. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to discuss your case – we’ll give you the guidance you need.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T07:09:03-06:00February 7th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on How to Tell Kids About Divorce

Civilian Convictions and the Wisconsin National Guard

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like most Guardsmen or reservists, you need to know that if you’re convicted of any civilian crime, you’re also subject to a trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The UCMJ applies to you all the time – even when you’re not at drill – and that means if you’re accused of committing a crime, the military can do its own investigation, try you and find you guilty, regardless of what happens on the civilian side.

What if You’re Convicted of a Crime While Serving in the Wisconsin National Guard?

If the state of Wisconsin or the federal government convicts you of a crime while you’re in the National Guard, you can expect the military to catch wind of it. When that happens, the military has every right to try you on its own because you signed the dotted line agreeing to abide by the UCMJ. And regardless of what anyone in your unit says, it’s not considered double jeopardy; Article 44 of the UCMJ does not apply to civilian justice because the military is a separate entity.

A civilian conviction could get you kicked out of the military. Naturally, it depends on the circumstances of your case – as well as your military service record – but the possibility is there. You’re probably less likely to lose your military career over shoplifting a candy bar than you are for being caught up in a child pornography ring or committing a sex crime, but if the military finds out (and it will) that you were convicted in a civilian court, you can expect military consequences to follow.

There’s a positive here, though: Even in the military, you have the right to an attorney, whether you’re dealing with the civilian side or the UCMJ. You also have the right to remain silent during an investigation, as well as to demand that investigators get a search warrant before searching your home, your email, your phone and other things that belong to you.

If you’ve been arrested for any civilian 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 |2020-11-16T15:52:14-06:00February 2nd, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Civilian Convictions and the Wisconsin National Guard

What Happens at a Sentencing Hearing?

By Carlos Gamino

Going to court is scary – there’s no way around it. It’s scary when you show up to hear your formal charges, when you’re on trial and when you make your last trip to find out how the judge will sentence you. Some court cases move faster than others do, but after a conviction, one thing is for sure: You’ll have to attend a sentencing hearing, which is where the judge tells you what type of punishment you’re facing for committing a crime.

Knowing what to expect can make the whole process easier (and even a little less terrifying). Here’s what you need to know.

What Happens at a Sentencing Hearing?

In a misdemeanor case, the judge is pretty likely to do so as soon as you plead guilty (or no contest), or as soon as you’re found guilty through a trial. However, in a felony case, you’re likely to have to wait a while for your sentencing hearing – sometimes, you may even have to wait weeks to attend a sentencing hearing.

Once you arrive, the judge will already know what sentence he or she is about to pass down. If your attorney has negotiated a deal with the prosecutor (commonly called a plea bargain or plea agreement), the judge will simply sign off on it; in that case, you’ll probably already know what type of punishment you’re facing. That’s true whether the state has convicted you of a misdemeanor or a felony.

If your attorney has not negotiated a deal with the prosecutor, you’ll all have to wait to find out what the judge says. Remember, though – the judge will have most likely reviewed a pre-sentencing report compiled by the state that includes information on your past criminal history, your personal past (including whether you’ve dealt with substance abuse) and a variety of other notes. That information is what the judge uses to determine your sentence. Sometimes, both sides get the opportunity to argue over the facts in that report. If you’d like to, you can make a statement on your own behalf before the judge sentences you.

Related: What happens after you’re charged with a felony?

What About the Victim?

During your sentencing hearing, the victim may use the opportunity to talk about the way your crime affected his or her life.

When Does the Judge Hand Down Your Sentence?

After everyone who is going to speak has done so, the judge will impose the sentence. The sentence you receive can’t exceed what the law allows. Judges can decide to be lenient (that is, to give you a smaller sentence than the maximum) or they can decide to penalize you as much as they’re allowed to – it all depends on your case, the severity of your crime and your criminal history, as well as other factors (such as the victim’s statement).  

What Should You Do if You’re Accused of a Crime?

If you’ve been accused of committing a crime, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to an attorney who can answer your questions and help you get the best possible outcome in your case.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:41:10-06:00February 1st, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What Happens at a Sentencing Hearing?

Can You Date While Separated From Your Spouse in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, you’re wondering if you can date while you’re separated from your spouse. After all, many people are separated for quite some time while they wait to finalize a divorce – but is it legal? Could there be unintended consequences? Here’s what you need to know.

Can You Date While Separated From Your Spouse in Wisconsin?

There’s no law that says you can’t date someone else while you’re separated from your spouse, but it’s important that you know it can still affect the outcome of your case. It’s best to refrain from dating anyone until your divorce is final.

Related: Separation agreements and Wisconsin law

How Can Dating Someone Affect Your Divorce?

The courts have one primary interest in a divorce case – at least one with children – and that’s to ensure that the children’s best interests are being served. If you start dating someone during your divorce, the court can think that being around that person is unhealthy for the kids. It can affect child custody in some ways. If you live with someone, it could also affect the amount of spousal support you get (if it’s awarded in your case).

Should You Date While You’re Separated From Your Spouse?

Aside from the ways that dating can affect the outcome of your divorce, it’s typically still a bad idea. You’re under a lot of stress (and so are your kids), which means dating is probably not the best thing you can do for yourself or your family. It’s a good idea to stay single, focus on your future, and hold off on finding a new partner until your divorce has been finalized in court.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Divorce?

If you’re considering divorce, you may want to schedule some time to talk to an attorney. We will be happy to answer your questions, talk to you about possible outcomes, and help you develop a strategy that best protects your future.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:44:29-06:00January 25th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on Can You Date While Separated From Your Spouse in Wisconsin?

What Happens if You Make a False Confession in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

False confessions are more common than you think – and unfortunately, they can have life-changing consequences. But what is a false confession, and what happens if you make one? Here’s what you need to know.

What is a False Confession?

A false confession is a confession that isn’t true. That means a person admits to committing a crime that he or she didn’t really commit. There are many reasons a person might make a false confession, but one thing is certain: If you admit to a crime you didn’t commit, you could end up going to jail when you’re really innocent.

Why Would Someone Falsely Confess to a Crime?

The police and criminal investigators are trained to get people to confess – it’s just what they do. It’s their job to get the “bad guy,” and if they think that’s you, they’ll do what they can to get you to admit to a crime. That can happen even when you’re innocent. (If you’d like to learn more about false confessions, you may find Anatomy of a False Confession interesting.)

One of the most common reasons people confess is because police have convinced them that there’s damning evidence that proves the case (even if there isn’t), or that they have been tricked into believing that if they confess, the real facts will come out later and they’ll be proven innocent. Sometimes people confess because they’ve been questioned for hours on end and they just want it to stop, and sometimes people falsely confess because they feel trapped, like there’s no way out of the situation. In rare cases, people even believe police when the police tell them that they’re guilty – it’s called internalizing – and they confess because they’re convinced that they’ve committed a crime.

Related: Can you take back a confession?

What Can You Do if You’ve Made a False Confession?

If you’ve made a false confession, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to talk to a caring, knowledgeable and experienced professional. Tell us what happened so we can evaluate your case and start developing a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:15:27-06:00January 25th, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What Happens if You Make a False Confession in Wisconsin?

Immigration Under the Biden/Harris Administration

By Carlos Gamino

In January 2021, Vice-President Kamala Harris made some surprising statements about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – and if enacted, they could provide DREAMers with unprecedented benefits. Here’s what you need to know.

What Did Kamala Harris Say About Immigration?

Vice President Kamala Harris, in an interview with Univision, said of the administration’s plan: “ It’s a smarter and much more humane way of approaching immigration.” Harris said that the administration wanted to add more judges to relieve the backlog currently plaguing immigration courts, as well as to expand protections available to DACA recipients. Additionally, the administration plans to allow people with DACA and temporary protected status to obtain green cards – and that alone would provide a path to citizenship for more than 1 million people.

Related: Kids who cross the border alone

Immigration advocates are applauding the plan. Sanaa Abrar, advocacy director at United We Dream, said, “Along with our allies, we helped deliver a clear policy mandate to President-elect Biden, and now he and the new Democratic-controlled Congress, led by Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer, must immediately pass a bill that gives citizenship to all 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S., protects people, and does not grow the deadly deportation force of ICE and CBP.”

Other parts of the plan include:

  • Providing legal representation for children who arrive at the U.S. border so they can be treated fairly
  • Providing the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone, regardless of immigration status
  • Creating more pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
  • Reasserting the U.S.’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees

Related: What relatives can a U.S. citizen sponsor?

Are You Thinking of Immigrating to the U.S.?

If you’re considering immigrating to the United States, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to discuss:

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T06:56:25-06:00January 20th, 2021|Immigration Law|Comments Off on Immigration Under the Biden/Harris Administration