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Can You Use a Mental Illness Defense in Wisconsin?

By Criminal Defense Attorney Carlos Gamino

Wisconsin law allows people to use the “insanity” defense in criminal trials – but when is that an acceptable way to defend someone in court, and what could happen if you’re found to be unable to stand trial for allegedly committing a crime? Here’s what you need to know.

Is Mental Illness a Good Criminal Defense in Wisconsin?

Under Wisconsin law, it’s acceptable for a defendant in a criminal case to say that, at the time of the alleged crime, he or she was suffering from a mental disease or defect that made it hard to distinguish right from wrong. If that happens in a criminal case, the person using the insanity defense will have to be psychologically evaluated – and a qualified evaluator will have to make a determination about that person’s mental fitness.

Does Being Found Not Guilty Due to Insanity Mean You Walk Away?

If you use the insanity defense in your case, the court will most likely address whether you’re guilty or not guilty of the crime at trial before considering your mental state. Then, after the court determines whether you’re guilty or not guilty, it will determine whether you were not guilty by reason of insanity. Even if the court finds that you’re not guilty by reason of insanity, you aren’t likely to go straight home with no consequences. You’ll probably be sent to a mental healthcare facility until the healthcare professionals there – including a psychiatrist, psychologist or other qualified professional – determine that you’re not a serious threat to public safety.

What Should You Do if You’re Not Guilty of a Crime by Reason of Insanity?

If you have been accused of a crime but you’re not guilty by reason of insanity, we may be able to help you. Call our office today at 414-383-6700 to schedule your consultation now – we’re here to answer your questions and give you case-specific legal advice.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:29:22-05:00June 15th, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Can You Use a Mental Illness Defense in Wisconsin?

Can You Withhold Child Support in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, you know someone who has withheld child support from an ex in the past – maybe the ex wouldn’t let your friend see his or her kids, or perhaps the payer didn’t feel like the recipient was doing the right thing with the money – but is it ever okay (or even legal) to withhold child support in the state of Wisconsin? Here’s what you need to know.

When is it Okay to Withhold Child Support in Wisconsin?

The absolute only time it’s okay to withhold child support in Wisconsin is when you have a court order stating that you don’t have to pay it. If you fail to pay, you will face serious legal consequences.

The Penalties for Withholding Child Support in Wisconsin

If you withhold child support despite having a court order that says you’re supposed to pay it, the child support agency can ask the court to hold a contempt hearing. During your contempt hearing, the court will determine whether you could have paid child support but chose not to. If the judge in your case finds you guilty of being able to pay but refusing, he or she can hold you in contempt of court. That means you’re guilty of the crime of failing to follow a court order – and you could go to jail over it.

However, the judge doesn’t have to send you to jail; he or she may set “purge conditions,” which are conditions you can meet to avoid going to jail. Usually, in cases like these, the purge conditions involve paying an amount of money toward your past-due child support amount.

Your child’s other parent – the one who is supposed to receive child support – may decide to file a complaint with the district attorney. (The child support agency may also refer case to the district attorney.) The district attorney will decide whether or not to take the case, and you could be charged with the crime of criminal nonsupport.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Child Support?

If you’re experiencing issues with child support – either receiving it or paying it – we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your consultation. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:35:10-05:00June 13th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on Can You Withhold Child Support in Wisconsin?

Will You Go to Prison for a Misdemeanor in Wisconsin?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, you’re aware that there are differences between a felony and a misdemeanor – but you’re not exactly sure what they are. You may even be wondering whether you’ll go to prison for committing a misdemeanor in Wisconsin, so this guide explains.

Do You Go to Prison for Committing a Misdemeanor in Wisconsin?

You won’t go to prison for committing a misdemeanor in Wisconsin. In fact, you won’t go anywhere at all unless the court finds you guilty – and even then, the judge in your case may not sentence you to any time behind bars.

The state of Wisconsin classifies its misdemeanors and assigns maximum penalties that judges can apply for convictions. The most serious misdemeanors have the most serious penalties, which are:

  • Class A misdemeanors, which can send you to jail (not prison) for up to 9 months. You may also have to pay fines of up to $10,000.
  • Class B misdemeanors, which can put you behind bars (again, not prison, but jail) for up to 90 days. You may also be ordered to pay fines of up to $1,000.
  • Class C misdemeanors, with a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

If you’re convicted, the judge decides your sentence – but the maximum penalty for the worst misdemeanor is 9 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. You could go to jail for a few months, the full 9 months, or a few days; it all depends on the circumstances of your conviction.

Related: When is theft a felony in Wisconsin?

What’s the Difference Between Jail and Prison?

Some people use the terms jail and prison interchangeably, but that’s not correct. Jails are typically operated by county governments, and they fall under the county sheriff’s jurisdiction. People who go to jail have either been sentenced to serve time there or are waiting to go to court for a trial.

Prisons are reserved for people who have been convicted of felony crimes. Sometimes states own prisons, and sometimes private companies own them. People who are in prison are there for a longer stay than people who are in jail.

Do You Need Criminal Defense After Being Accused of Committing a Misdemeanor?

If the state has accused you of committing a misdemeanor crime, you may want to talk to an attorney. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your consultation. During your consultation, you can ask us your questions and get the facts you need – and if we work together, we’ll build a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:26:29-05:00June 13th, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Will You Go to Prison for a Misdemeanor in Wisconsin?

What is a Marriage Green Card?

By Defense Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you marry a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident, you’re most likely entitled to a marriage-based green card – a document that lets you live and work anywhere you’d like in the United States. Having a green card (marriage-based or otherwise) enables you to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship and become naturalized.

What is a Marriage Green Card?

When you’re married to a citizen or lawful permanent resident (another green card-holder), you’ll need authorization to live and work in the U.S., and a green card provides that. Many people choose to work with a Wisconsin immigration attorney to apply for these green cards because the process can be complex and time-consuming.

You cannot apply for your own marriage-based green card (in most cases). Your citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse must apply on your behalf. You’ll need to establish your marital relationship by providing a marriage certificate or other documentation, and then you’ll need to provide supporting documentation that shows the U.S. government that your marriage is real (and that you didn’t just get married to obtain an immigration benefit).

Related: Adjustment of status information

Will You Have to Attend an Interview for a Marriage Green Card?

You will have to attend an interview with a U.S. government official to get your marriage-based green card. The interviewer’s goal is to ensure that you’re in a bona fide marriage – one that’s genuine. Your interviewer may ask you questions such as:

  • Where did you and your spouse meet?
  • Who proposed?
  • Which side of the bed does your spouse sleep on?
  • What’s your spouse’s favorite food, TV show or movie?
  • What are your future plans with your spouse?

As long as the interviewer is convinced that your marriage is genuine, you should receive approval for your marriage-based green card.

Related: I-485 interviews

Conditions on a Marriage Green Card

You’ll receive a “conditional” green card if you’ve been married for fewer than two years. If that’s your situation, you’ll have to petition the U.S. government to remove the conditions before your green card expires (and that’s something your attorney can help you with, as well). After you remove the conditions, you’ll receive your permanent green card, which you only need to renew every ten years. With a permanent green card, you’re eligible to apply for naturalization and become a U.S. citizen.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a Marriage Green Card for Yourself or Your Spouse?

If you’re married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or if you’re a citizen or green card-holder married to a foreigner who wants a green card, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414=383-6700 now to schedule your consultation – we’ll be happy to answer your questions about U.S. immigration.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:32:43-05:00June 8th, 2021|Immigration Law|Comments Off on What is a Marriage Green Card?

What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court in Wisconsin?

By Defense Lawyer Carlos Gamino

Sometimes judges decide to let people pay money to get out of jail – as long as that person promises to show up for his or her court date. The money a person pays is like collateral; if the person doesn’t show up to court, the state keeps the money… and then issues a warrant for the person’s arrest. That means that when you bail yourself out of jail, you have two choices: You can show up for court and get your money back (minus the state’s fees), or you can fail to appear, lose your money, and get re-arrested anyway.

What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court in Wisconsin?

Failure to appear will get you into serious trouble. The state will send the police to pick you up, stick you in jail, and keep you there until your court date. And because the police will be nice enough to give you a ride to court, the judge knows you’ll be there at the appointed date and time.

This type of arrest warrant is called a capias. It’s essentially a document that tells the police to pick you up. In fact, any officer who finds you is required to arrest you.

Related: What to do if a capias is issued for you

The police can arrest you from anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at your child’s school, at work, or even at your own wedding – when the police find out where you are (and they may be actively looking for you rather than waiting to bump into you on the street), they’re going to come get you. If a judge has issued a capias for you, it may be best to turn yourself in. If that’s what you’re considering, you should consult with an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense attorney to learn about your options.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer Because You Missed Court?

You can – and should – call an attorney if you’ve missed court. (And no, we won’t turn you in.) That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re up against, and your attorney can determine the best course of action for you. Additionally, your attorney can defend you in court from that point forward, whether you’re facing consequences from failing to appear or being tried for the crime that put you in jail in the first place.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T21:54:15-05:00June 7th, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court in Wisconsin?

Can You Beat a Disorderly Conduct Charge in Wisconsin?

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people accused of disorderly conduct, you know that you have a chance to fight your charges in court – but can you really beat a disorderly conduct charge in Wisconsin? Here’s what you need to know.

Can You Beat a Disorderly Conduct Charge in Wisconsin?

Some people successfully beat disorderly conduct charges in Wisconsin. However, you can’t simply stroll into court and say, “I’m not guilty – let me off the hook.” If you want to beat a disorderly conduct charge, you have to give yourself a fighting chance by getting case-specific legal advice. For most people, the best solution is to work with a Milwaukee criminal defense attorney throughout the process.

Related: Juvenile disorderly conduct in Wisconsin

Is Self-Defense a Defense to Disorderly Conduct Charges?

In some cases, self-defense is a valid defense to disorderly conduct charges. For example, if someone attacks you and you neutralize – or try to neutralize – the threat, you may be able to show the court that you were only defending yourself and that you don’t deserve to be charged with disorderly conduct. (We bring this up because in a fight, the police often charge both parties with disorderly conduct – even the one who was simply defending him- or herself.

Related: What if you’re charged with disorderly conduct for fighting?

What’s the Penalty if You Lose a Disorderly Conduct Case?

If the state ends up charging you with a Class B misdemeanor for disorderly conduct, you’re looking at up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000. The judge in your case doesn’t have to sentence you to the maximum, but you do need to know that it’s possible you’ll spend up to three months in jail and pay hefty fines.

Will Disorderly Conduct Stay On Your Criminal Record Forever?

If you’re convicted of disorderly conduct, it will go on your criminal record. You may later qualify to clear your record (in rare cases), but your conviction will show up on criminal background checks until then. There is no guarantee that you’ll be eligible to clear your record. However, if the state drops its charges against you or you’re found not guilty, you may be able to have your arrest record cleared so that it doesn’t show up on a background check.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Beating Disorderly Conduct Charges in Wisconsin?

There’s never any way to predict how a judge will rule, but we can give you the legal advice and representation you need to get the best possible outcome in your case. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule your free consultation now – we’ll be happy to answer your questions and start building a strategy to help you.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-03-20T13:39:53-05:00June 1st, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Can You Beat a Disorderly Conduct Charge in Wisconsin?

What is Computer Hacking, and is It a Crime?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

We’ve all seen movies and TV shows where hackers crack the code into a top-secret system, copy vital information, or change data – and if you’re like most people, you probably know that’s a crime. But how serious is it, and will you go to prison if you’re caught hacking into a computer system for any reason? Here’s what you need to know.

What is Computer Hacking?

Computer hacking is a term that describes accessing another person’s computer and data without permission. You can be charged with hacking if you willfully, knowingly and without authorization:

  • Modify data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Destroy data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Access computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Take possession of data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Copy data, computer programs or supporting documentation
  • Disclose restricted access codes or other restricted access information to unauthorized persons
  • Cause an interruption in service by submitting a message, or multiple messages, to a computer, computer program, computer system, or computer network that exceeds the processing capacity of the computer, computer program, computer system, or computer network

Is it Illegal to Look at Someone Else’s Computer Files Without Their Permission?

It’s illegal to view another person’s password-protected files, including email. That means even if you share a computer, you can’t log into someone else’s email account and start reading.

What is the Punishment for Computer Hacking?

Computer hacking is usually a Class A misdemeanor, and that means you could spend up to 9 months in jail. The court could also sentence you to pay a fine of up to $10,000. However, in some cases, computer hacking is a felony. It becomes a:

  • Class I felony if you do it to defraud or obtain property
  • Class F felony if it results in damage valued at more than $2,500
  • Class F felony if it causes an interruption or impairment of government operations or public communication, of transportation, or of a supply of water, gas or another public service
  • Class F felony if it creates a substantial and unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm to another person

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Computer Hacking Charges?

If you’ve been accused of a computer crime – including computer hacking – we may be able to help you. Call 414-383-6700 for a free consultation; you can ask us your questions and we can start developing a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-03-20T13:42:07-05:00May 31st, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What is Computer Hacking, and is It a Crime?

What Is Obstructing an Officer?

By Carlos Gamino

In Wisconsin, there’s a specific law that protects police officers from people getting in their way – and if you violate that law, a court could sentence you to time in prison. Here’s what you need to know.

What Does Obstructing an Officer Mean?

Resisting arrest or obstructing an officer are very serious charges in Wisconsin. The both fall under the same law, which says a person who “knowingly resists or obstructs an officer while such officer is doing any act in an official capacity and with lawful authority” can be charged with – and convicted of – a crime.

In fact, the court can convict you if you resisted or obstructed an officer who was doing something in an official capacity, and with lawful authority, provided that you knew that – and that you knew your conduct would resist or obstruct the officer.

You’re not going to get into trouble if you accidentally step in front of a cop who’s chasing a suspect on foot, or for being confused and saying that the bank robber you saw was 6 feet tall when she was 6 feet, 2 inches tall. However, you will get into trouble if you do either of those things on purpose, knowing that what you’re doing will prevent the officer from doing his or her job.

Resisting vs. Obstructing

Resisting means to oppose an officer by force or the threat of force. That resistance must be directed to that officer personally.

Obstructing means to make an officer’s job more difficult, or to prevent him or her from performing official duties. That can include knowingly giving false information or placing physical evidence with the intent to mislead the officer.

What Are the Penalties for Obstructing or Resisting Arrest?

If you’re charged with obstructing or resisting an officer, you’re most likely looking at a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the police officer is injured, you’re dealing with felony charges; if you’re convicted, you’ll most likely go to prison.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Resisting Arrest or Obstruction Charges?

If you’ve been accused of resisting arrest or obstructing an officer, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your free consultation. We’ll listen to your side of the story, ask you some questions, and answer your questions – and then we can get to work on developing a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-03-20T13:14:33-05:00May 23rd, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What Is Obstructing an Officer?

Disorderly Conduct in Milwaukee: The Basics

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like most people, you’ve heard of disorderly conduct – but what is it, and what happens if you’re convicted of disorderly conduct in court? Will you go to jail? Here’s what you need to know.

What is Disorderly Conduct?

Disorderly conduct is an umbrella term that covers quite a few types of crimes. In fact, the state of Wisconsin can convict you of disorderly conduct if the court believes that you:

  • Engaged in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct
  • Your conduct tended to cause or provoke a disturbance.

The state defines disorderly conduct this way: “Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance.”

Related: Examples of disorderly conduct in Wisconsin

Can You Go to Jail for Disorderly Conduct in Wisconsin?

You can go to jail for disorderly conduct in Wisconsin. In addition to your initial arrest, when police bring you to the station for booking, you can be convicted of a Class B misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

How Do You Beat a Disorderly Conduct Charge in Wisconsin?

There’s no guarantee that you’ll beat a disorderly conduct charge in Wisconsin, but you can get the best possible outcome if you get legal advice related to your situation. You can fight these types of charges and, in some cases, defeat them – but you do need to know the law and how it applies to your situation. You can’t walk into court completely unprepared.

Related: All about disorderly conduct in Wisconsin

Will Disorderly Conduct Go on Your Criminal Record?

A criminal conviction will go on your criminal record. You may later qualify to clear your criminal record, but there’s no guarantee that a court will approve an expungement in your case – and that means in most cases, disorderly conduct will stay on your criminal record.

Do You Need to Talk to a Disorderly Conduct Attorney in Wisconsin?

If you’ve been accused of disorderly conduct, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a free consultation – we’ll answer your questions and help you start moving forward.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T21:59:35-05:00May 17th, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Disorderly Conduct in Milwaukee: The Basics

Child Custody FAQ

By Carlos Gamino

Child custody can be a difficult issue for divorcing parents – you both want what’s best for your kids, but you may have a tough time seeing eye-to-eye on what that is. Check out this child custody FAQ to get some answers, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for here, feel free to call us at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to get you the answers you need.

Child Custody FAQ

Some of the most common questions we hear about child custody include:

  • What makes a parent unfit for custody?
  • What should you not do in a child custody case?
  • What questions does a judge ask a child in a custody case?
  • What kind of evidence do I need for child custody?
  • Can text messages be used in court for custody?

Here’s a closer look at each.

What Makes a Parent Unfit for Custody?

Some things can make a parent unfit for child custody – particularly when that parent’s conduct fails to provide proper care, guidance or support to the child. Abuse, neglect and substance abuse issues can also make a parent unfit for child custody. Every case is different, so if you suspect that your ex is unfit to parent your children, you should speak to a Wisconsin divorce and child custody attorney immediately.

What Should You NOT Do in a Child Custody Case?

You should never do anything that jeopardizes your ability to parent your children during a child custody case (or at any other time, for that matter). You should also avoid:

  • Verbal or physical confrontations with your ex
  • Introducing a new partner to your children
  • Criticizing your kids’ other parent to family, friends, or worse, to the children
  • Failing to make your child support payments
  • Letting your children down – when you say you’ll be there, be there
  • Preventing your children from seeing their other parent

Related: Wisconsin child custody laws

What Questions Does a Judge Ask in a Custody Case?

Most child custody cases are settled between parents. However, a small fraction of cases go to trial – and in those cases, a judge decides where children will spend most of their time. If your case goes to trial because you and your ex can’t agree on what’s best for your children, the judge will likely ask you several questions, including:

  • Which of you has been the kids’ primary caretaker?
  • What kind of stability can you provide for your child in your home?
  • How will you foster a loving relationship between your kids and their other parent?

Your attorney will submit documentation that helps you get the best possible outcome, and he or she will also help you prepare to go to court. However, it’s almost always in your best interest to try to work out a custody agreement with your ex rather than going to trial.

Related: Child placement laws in Wisconsin

What Kind of Evidence Do I Need for Child Custody?

Your attorney will tell you what kind of evidence you need for your child custody case, which may include things like voicemail messages, emails, text messages, video and audio recordings, and police reports. Every case is different, so we can’t give you a specific list here – but we can tell you after we’ve learned more about your personal situation.

Can Text Messages Be Used in Court for Custody?

Text messages can, and often are, used in court for child custody disputes. Our advice: Never, ever put anything in writing that you may later regret. And if you have something in writing from your ex, don’t delete it.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Child Custody?

If you’re a divorcing parent, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 right now to schedule your free consultation. We’ll ask you some questions (and answer your questions) so you and your kids can start moving forward.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2021-05-17T22:01:28-05:00May 17th, 2021|Family Law|Comments Off on Child Custody FAQ