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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?

Identity Theft Crimes in Wisconsin

Identity Theft Crimes in Wisconsin - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

There are several types of identity theft crimes in Wisconsin, but one thing remains the same across the board: Identity theft is a Class H felony. If you’re convicted of identity theft, you could go to prison for up to 6 years and pay fines of up to $10,000.

Identity Theft Crimes in Wisconsin

Under Wisconsin law, the crime of identity theft is serious – it’s so serious, in fact, that people who are convicted end up spending time in prison. There are several different types of identity theft crimes, including:

  • Child identity theft
  • Criminal identity theft
  • Financial identity theft
  • Identity cloning
  • Medical identity theft

Here’s a closer look at each.

Child Identity Theft

Child identity theft occurs when someone steals a child’s personal information and misuses it. This sometimes involves things like opening lines of credit in a child’s name, getting utility bills put in a child’s name or even making major purchases (like cars or houses) in a child’s name.

Criminal Identity Theft

Criminal identity theft occurs when a person gives the police false information when they’re arrested. That might happen when someone simply lies about his or her name, when a person has a fake ID or when a person has another person’s valid ID.

Related: What is the punishment for identity theft?

Financial Identity Theft

The most common type of identity theft is financial in nature. This occurs when someone uses another person’s identity to get a credit card, take out a loan, or makes purchases.

Identity Cloning

Identity cloning is a form of identity theft, and it involves one person impersonating another person to hide his or her true identity. Even things as simple – and seemingly harmless – as using another person’s picture on a social media site and pretending that it’s you can be a form of identity theft.

Medical Identity Theft

When a person uses another person’s personally identifiable information, or PII, to obtain medical service, prescriptions or even insurance coverage.

Have You Been Accused of Any Type of Identity Theft?

If you’ve been accused of some type of identity theft, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule a free consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. We’ll look at your case, answer your questions and start building a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T14:59:06-05:00November 30th, 2020|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Identity Theft Crimes in Wisconsin

What if You’re Charged With a Hate Crime in Wisconsin?

What if You’re Charged With a Hate Crime in Wisconsin - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Statistically, hate crimes are on the rise – and they’re happening all over the United States. So what, exactly, is a hate crime, and what will happen to you if you’re convicted? For most people, the best thing to do is to get in touch with a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney for advice.

What if You’re Charged With a Hate Crime in Wisconsin?

Technically, Wisconsin law has a different name for hate crimes; they’re called crimes committed against certain people or property. These crimes are committed against people (or the property belonging to those people) because of the alleged perpetrator’s belief or perception about the person’s:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • National origin or ancestry

That’s true whether or not the perpetrator’s belief was correct. For example, if someone commits a crime against someone and says it was because the person is African-American, but the person is not actually African-American, it doesn’t matter – it’s still a hate crime under Wisconsin law.

Penalties for Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are ordinary crimes, but they’re committed because the people who commit them believe that the victim belongs to a certain protected group of people. Here’s how the penalties change:

  • If the crime is ordinarily a misdemeanor of any class other than Class A, the penalty is up to a year in the county jail and fines of up to $10,000.
  • If the crime is ordinarily a Class A misdemeanor, the penalty is up to 2 years imprisonment with fines of up to $10,000.
  • If the crime is a felony, the maximum term of imprisonment for that felony is increased by up to 5 years, and the fine is increased by up to $5,000.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney Because You’ve Been Charged With a Hate Crime?

If you’ve been accused of committing a hate crime, whether you’re completely innocent or you made a mistake, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T14:22:40-05:00November 20th, 2020|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What if You’re Charged With a Hate Crime in Wisconsin?

CHIPS in Wisconsin

What is CHIPS in Wisconsin - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

The state of Wisconsin has protections in place for juveniles who need help, and special court cases – called CHIPS cases – are opened to provide special services for kids. CHIPS stands for child in need of protection and/or services, and these cases are available until children reach the legal age of responsibility. Until that time, kids depend on adults for care and protection.

When parents can’t – or won’t – properly care for their children, the juvenile court may step in. That can happen in parent and guardian cases, as well as neglect and abuse cases.

CHIPS in Parent and Guardian Cases

CHIPS in parent and guardian cases typically involve children:

  • Who don’t have a parent or guardian
  • Whose parent or guardian has petitioned the court for help with the child’s care
  • Who petition the court for themselves
  • With inadequate care from a parent
  • Who have been abandoned

CHIPS in Neglect and Abuse Cases

CHIPS in neglect and abuse cases typically involve kids who:

  • Have been abuse victims in the past
  • Are at-risk for abuse
  • Have been placed for care or adoption unlawfully
  • Have been neglected or who are at substantial risk for neglect
  • Are suffering from emotional damage or an alcohol or drug abuse impairment
  • Have not been immunized as required by law

How Does a CHIPS Case Start?

Typically, a CHIPS case begins when someone makes a report of abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services or Social Services. A caseworker will evaluate the situation and see if the report appears to be valid; if he or she doesn’t find any safety issues, the case can be closed. If the case worker does find safety issues, he or she will document the issues and file a petition.

Are CHIPS Court Hearings Confidential?

CHIPS court hearings are confidential, which means it’s probably in your best interest to have an attorney represent you.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a CHIPS Case?

If you’re involved – or about to become involved – in a CHIPS case, call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney as soon as possible. We may be able to help.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T15:22:34-05:00November 17th, 2020|Family Law, Juvenile Law|Comments Off on CHIPS in Wisconsin

What is Probable Cause?

What is Probable Cause - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

You’ve most likely heard the term probable cause before, but what does it really mean – and how does it impact your case? Here’s what you need to know.

What is Probable Cause?

Police need to establish probable cause before they make an arrest, search you or your belongings, or get a warrant from a judge. That means police must have a reasonable basis for believing you’re doing something wrong.

How Can Police Establish Probable Cause?

If police can point to evidence that leads them to believe you committed a crime, a court would most likely find that they had probable cause to arrest you. A police officer can’t simply say, “I really feel like this person committed a crime.” A judge will have the final say on whether the evidence that the police had constitutes probable cause.

If police want a search warrant for your home, car or belongings, they’ll have to convince a judge that they have probable cause, too.

Examples of Probable Cause

Check out these examples of probable cause:

1. A police officer observes you swerving between lanes, driving too slowly, and even veering off the road. The officer can pull you over, and if your vehicle smells like marijuana smoke when you roll down the window, the officer has probable cause to search your vehicle and arrest you because it really looks like you’ve been smoking pot and driving (which is illegal).

2. A police officer gets a notification to watch out for a tall, white man in a red hat who’s carrying a black backpack – the person is suspected of robbing a gas station. If you’re a tall, white man wearing a red hat and carrying a black backpack who’s hanging around in the vicinity of the gas station counting money, the officer most likely has probable cause to arrest you.

3. A police officer has taken a statement from a person whose roommate has been collecting materials to make bombs. The person who gave the statement has a few receipts from different stores showing some of the purchases. Although buying the materials separately is not a crime, the police officer can ask a judge – based on the evidence he or she has – to issue a search warrant. The judge may find that based on the evidence, there’s a high likelihood that evidence of a crime will be uncovered; if that happens, that means the judge has determined there is probable cause.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Your Rights?

If you believe you were arrested or that police searched you without probable cause, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule a free consultation today.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T14:27:27-05:00November 13th, 2020|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What is Probable Cause?

Delinquency Petitions in Wisconsin

Delinquency Petitions in Wisconsin - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

The state of Wisconsin uses delinquency petitions to protect children from being charged as adults in criminal cases. Sometimes, particularly when kids are under the age of 10, the state pursues JIPS action (that stands for juvenile in need of protection or services) rather than a delinquency petition; likewise, a prosecutor can pursue a JIPS action when the court finds that a child is incompetent to proceed, as well as in some other cases.

A delinquency petition is an option to start a criminal case against a child. When the prosecutor in such a case wants to send the child to an adult criminal court, where he or she will be tried as an adult, the prosecutor can file a waiver petition. Generally, prosecutors can ask to send a child to an adult court when the child is 14 or older and is charged with certain crimes, such as:

  • Felony murder
  • Second-degree reckless homicide
  • First-degree sexual assault
  • Hostage-taking or kidnapping
  • Robbery
  • Manufacturing, distribution or delivery of a controlled substance
  • Nearly any felony that’s tied into gang involvement

Prosecutors can seek waivers for any child over the age of 15 for any crime. For most people, the best option when a prosecutor is seeking a waiver is to find solid legal defense – your attorney can fight to keep the case out of adult court. When a child is tried as an adult, he or she faces the same penalties that any adult would for committing a criminal offense.

Related: What is juvenile delinquency in Wisconsin?

What is a Reverse Waiver?

When the state charges a child with a crime in adult court, the child can ask the court to send the case back to the juvenile court. This is called a reverse waiver.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a Delinquency Petition?

If your child has been accused of a crime, we may be able to help. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T15:16:22-05:00November 9th, 2020|Criminal Law, Juvenile Law|Comments Off on Delinquency Petitions in Wisconsin

Common Immigration Attorney Fees

Common Immigration Attorney Fees - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Working with an experienced immigration attorney can give you the peace of mind you need to tackle your case, whether you’re applying for an immigrant visa or you need deportation defense. But how much does it cost? What can you expect to pay in immigration attorney fees? Here’s what you need to know.

Common Immigration Attorney Fees

Like any other service, you have to pay for an immigration attorney’s help with your case. It’s important to note that you should watch out for people who say they’re “immigration consultants,” “immigration advisors” or “immigration advocates,” because they’re not attorneys – and often, they don’t provide actual services or answer your legal questions.

When you hire an immigration attorney, remember that every lawyer is different, and the cost will vary between law firms. You also need to know that:

  • You’ll often have to pay an advanced fee to get started on your case.
  • Hourly rates are different between attorneys. One attorney might charge $50 per hour, while another could charge $200 per hour.
  • Visas have different rate structures, and those rate structures are set by the U.S. government. You’ll have to pay filing fees for the immigration documents you file with the government.
  • You could be eligible for premium processing, but that results in an additional fee.

What Are Advanced Fees for Immigration Attorneys?

An advanced fee is money you pay an attorney before he or she will start working on your case. Usually, attorneys calculate them by evaluating your case and determining how much it will cost to complete based on an hourly rate. If your attorney works on your case longer than expected, you’ll incur hourly charges – but you’ll know about them ahead of time. Really, what’s happening is that you pay the attorney and he or she “works off” the balance using an hourly rate.

So what if you’ve overpaid because your case was easier than the attorney anticipated? You’ll get a refund of the balance. If you pay an attorney who charges $100 per hour a $1,000 retainer fee, but she finishes your case in 8 hours, you’ll get $200 back. (That’s just an example, though – every attorney’s retainer fee and hourly rate is different.)

Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney?

If you’re considering immigrating to the United States, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with a Wisconsin immigration attorney who will talk to you about your case and answer your questions.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T15:11:43-05:00November 4th, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on Common Immigration Attorney Fees

Is Possession of a Controlled Substance a Felony in Wisconsin?

Is Possession of a Controlled Substance a Felony in Wisconsin - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Possession of a controlled substance is a serious charge in Wisconsin, and it’s one that comes with serious penalties if you’re convicted. But is possession of a controlled substance a felony, and what are the possible sentences you could receive if the court finds you guilty? Here’s what you need to know.

Is Possession of a Controlled Substance a Felony in Wisconsin?

The term controlled substance covers many types of drugs, ranging from marijuana to meth. If you’re caught with an illegal drug in Wisconsin, you’re subject to penalties based on the specific drug you had at the time of the offense. Here are some of the most common:

  • Cocaine and crack. When a judge convicts you of possessing either of these drugs, the possible sentence for your first offense is up to a year of imprisonment and a fine of $5,000. Second and subsequent offenses are Class I felonies.
  • Hallucinogenic or stimulant drugs. These drugs, like LSD and amphetamine, will subject you to a year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000 for a first offense. For subsequent offenses, you’re looking at a Class I felony.
  • Marijuana. If you’re caught with marijuana, you’re subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 6 months of imprisonment if it’s your first offense. If you have a prior conviction, it’s a Class I felony, and for that, you could be facing up to 3 years, 6 months imprisonment and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Methamphetamine. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first offense or not; possession of meth is a Class I felony in Wisconsin.
  • Schedules I and II narcotics. If you’re convicted of possession of Schedule I or Schedule II narcotics, you’re facing a Class I felony.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Possession of a Controlled Substance as a Felony?

If you’ve been arrested for possessing drugs – any drugs – it may be in your best interest to call our office at 414-383-6700 for a free case review as soon as possible. We’ll answer your questions and tell you what kinds of penalties you’re facing – and if we can help you, we will.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T14:40:58-05:00October 30th, 2020|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Is Possession of a Controlled Substance a Felony in Wisconsin?

Frequently Asked Questions About Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice FAQ - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many parents whose children have been accused of committing a crime, you probably have a lot of questions – and answers are a little bit hard to come by. Check out these juvenile justice FAQ to get answers, and if you don’t see the answer to your questions here, call us at 414-383-6700 to ask during a free consultation.

Juvenile Justice FAQ

Some of the most common questions we answer about juvenile justice and how the system works in Wisconsin are listed here. Remember, we’re also happy to answer case-specific questions during a free consultation, as well.

What is Delinquency Supervision?

Delinquency supervision is managed by social workers and is a program designed to keep kids out of trouble while holding them accountable for what they’ve done. It also helps provide treatment and services that help kids build competencies. Cases that result in delinquency supervision are overseen by social workers when kids are at home, in school and in the community. In many ways, it’s like adult probation.

Can My Child Be Charged With a Crime When Nobody Called Me?

The police can question and talk to your child without you being present. For this reason, it’s important that you teach your children to use their right to remain silent during police questioning until you or an attorney are present. (And even when you’re there, it’s typically best to wait for an attorney.) Because the police can talk to your child without you being present, it’s completely possible for your child to be charged with a crime and for you to find out about it after the fact.

How Will a Juvenile Record Affect My Child’s Future?

Having a juvenile criminal record can affect your child’s future. However, juveniles who have been found to be delinquent under the Wisconsin Juvenile Code can petition the court for expungement when they turn 17 – but only if it was a first offense, the child has completed all the terms of his or her sentence, the juvenile will benefit from the expungement, and society won’t be harmed by it. Expungement is not a right – even when the entire case takes place in juvenile court.

Should I Hire an Attorney to Represent My Child in the Juvenile Justice System?

If your child is in legal trouble, you have the right to hire an attorney – and for many people, that’s the best course of action. Your child’s attorney will be able to answer your questions and will work to protect your child’s rights every step of the way.

Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney now.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T15:07:49-05:00October 26th, 2020|Criminal Law, Juvenile Law|Comments Off on Frequently Asked Questions About Juvenile Justice