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What Happens if You Divorce Before Getting a Green Card?

By Carlos Gamino

When you marry a U.S. citizen, you’re entitled to a green card. Your green card allows you to live and work anywhere in the United States. But what happens if you divorce before getting a green card? Here’s what you need to know.

What Happens if You Divorce Before Getting a Green Card?

Divorce can affect your green card status, but it depends on what stage of the process you’re currently in when you choose to split from your spouse. You’ll have a different outcome if you divorce:

  • After you apply, but before you receive your green card
  • After you receive a conditional green card
  • After you have the conditions removed from your green card

Divorce After Applying for, but Before Receiving, a Green Card

If you divorce before the U.S. government approves your green card, your entire immigration process comes to a halt. Your divorce ends the relationship that made you eligible for a green card, so you can’t continue your application.

Related: New green card rules

Divorce With a Conditional Green Card

If you’ve been married for fewer than two years and still have conditions on your green card, your divorce can affect the process. You’ll most likely have to work with your Wisconsin immigration attorney to ask the government to waive the joint filing requirement, and you’ll have to prove that you entered into your marriage in good faith (rather than simply for the immigration benefit).

Related: What is a green card through registry?

Divorce With a Conditions Removed From Your Green Card

If you no longer have conditions on your green card and divorce your spouse, there’s a good chance that your process will be unaffected. You can typically remain in the U.S. on your green card and renew it when necessary. You can even change your name on your green card after filing the appropriate forms. However, you do need to know that if you later apply for citizenship, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services will reevaluate your entire case.

Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin Immigration Attorney About Your Green Card?

If you’re an immigrant considering divorce, we may be able to help you – both with the divorce and with your immigration process. Call our office at 414-383-6700 now to talk to someone who can answer your questions and help you start moving forward in the right direction.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T07:11:39-06:00March 8th, 2021|Family Law, Immigration Law|Comments Off on What Happens if You Divorce Before Getting a Green Card?

Receiving Stolen Property: What You Need to Know

By Carlos Gamino

Receiving stolen property is a crime in Wisconsin – but what will happen to you if you’re caught buying or taking something that you know has been stolen? Can you go to jail if you didn’t know the property was stolen in the first place? Here’s what you need to know.

3 Things You Don’t Know About Receiving Stolen Property in Wisconsin

The crime of receiving stolen property can put you behind bars for years, so if you’ve been accused of this type of crime, it’s probably a good idea for you to talk to a criminal defense attorney. You should also learn a little bit about the charges your facing. Here are three things most people don’t know:

  1. Receiving stolen property can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the property’s value.
  2. You must intentionally receive the stolen property (and know it was stolen) in order for this to be a criminal act.
  3. Receiving stolen property goes on your permanent criminal record.

Here’s a closer look at each.

#1. Receiving Stolen Property Can Be a Misdemeanor or Felony

The property’s value determines whether you’re facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge. It’s a Class A misdemeanor of the property’s value is $2,500 or less. However, if the property’s value is:

  • between $2,500 and $5,000, it’s a Class I felony.
  • between $5,000 and $10,000, it’s a Class H felony.
  • over $10,000, it’s a Class G felony.

Related: What is petty theft?

#2. You Must Intentionally Receive Stolen Property (and Know it Was Stolen) to Commit a Crime

You must have intentionally taken or purchased the stolen property when knowing that it was stolen in order for the court to convict you of this crime. The state has to prove that you actually knew it, beyond a reasonable doubt. For many people, a lack of knowledge is a solid defense – if you had known the property was stolen, you wouldn’t have taken or purchased it from the person who gave it to you.

Related: When is theft a felony in Wisconsin?

#3. Receiving Stolen Property Becomes Part of Your Permanent Criminal Record

If you’re convicted of a crime in Wisconsin, it goes on your permanent criminal record. It’s not like a driving record, where “bad behavior” disappears after a certain amount of time elapsed; criminal convictions will remain on your record unless you later take steps to clear them (and there’s no guarantee a judge will ever agree to wipe your record clean).

Do You Need to Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you’re accused of receiving stolen property, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your free consultation with a criminal defense attorney who can answer your questions and give you legal advice.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T06:46:39-06:00March 8th, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on Receiving Stolen Property: What You Need to Know

What is Aiding and Abetting?

By Carlos Gamino

Aiding and abetting is against the law in Wisconsin, which you may already know if you’re facing these charges. It’s generally referred to as being party to a crime in Wisconsin, so here’s what you need to know.

What is Aiding and Abetting?

Aiding, abetting and being an accessory are three separate terms under Wisconsin law:

  • Aiding is helping or supporting another person to commit a crime.
  • Abetting is encouraging, inciting or inducing another person to commit a crime.
  • An accessory is someone who aids or abets (or aids and abets) in support of someone else committing a crime.

Aiding and Abetting Examples

Here’s an example of aiding someone in the commission of a crime:

Carlos knows Tedia is going to rob a bank. He provides her with a ski mask and a large bag she can use to carry money, and he tells her that he’ll be outside waiting in the getaway car to drive her away from the scene before police arrive. Carlos is aiding Tedia, so he can be charged as a party to the crime.

Here’s an example of abetting:

Carlos and Tedia are walking down the street and see a parked Ferrari with the windows down. There’s a briefcase on the passenger seat, and Carlos tells Tedia she should reach in and grab it because there’s probably something valuable inside. Tedia grabs it, and they’ve both committed a crime – Carlos is in trouble for abetting, and Tedia is in trouble for theft.

In both of these cases, Carlos is an accessory to the crime that Tedia committed.

Do You Need to Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney About Aiding and Abetting?

If you’ve been accused of aiding and abetting or being party to a crime, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule your free consultation – we’ll answer your questions and explain possible outcomes for your case.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T06:43:53-06:00March 3rd, 2021|Criminal Law|Comments Off on What is Aiding and Abetting?

Hit and Run in Wisconsin

By Carlos Gamino

When you’re in a car accident in Wisconsin, you’re supposed to stop, exchange information with the other driver, and in some cases, wait for police or other first responders to arrive. If you don’t, you could be charged with the crime of hit and run – and that’s a serious offense under Wisconsin law.

Hit and Run, Defined

The Wisconsin legal system allows a jury to convict you if you operated a vehicle involved in an accident and:

  • You knew you were involved in an accident
  • The accident resulted in damage to the other vehicle, or resulted in injury or death of another person involved
  • You did not immediately stop and remain at the scene (or close to the scene) to share information (such as your name, address and registration) to the other driver, or show your license upon request, or render aid to anyone injured in the accident

What is the Penalty for Hit and Run in Wisconsin?

If you’re convicted of hit and run, the penalties depend on the damage and injuries stemming from the accident. If nobody was hurt, you could still be looking at 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. However, if someone was injured or killed, the criminal penalties allowed under Wisconsin law are much steeper:

  • If someone was injured but didn’t suffer great bodily harm, you can go to jail for up to 9 months and pay fines of up to $10,000.
  • If someone is injured and suffered great bodily harm, it’s a Class E felony with up to 10 years in prison, up to 5 years in extended supervision, and fines of up to $50,000.
  • If someone was killed, it’s a Class D felony with up to 15 years in prison, up to 10 years in extended supervision, and fines of up to $100,000.

Related: Criminal driving and traffic violations

Do You Have to Stay if the Accident Wasn’t Your Fault?

If you’re involved in an accident that’s not your fault, stay. Do not leave. Even if the police aren’t coming, you still need to share information with the driver and render aid.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Hit and Run in Wisconsin?

If you’ve been accused of hit and run or leaving the scene of an accident, we may be able to help you. It’s a good idea to call our office at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation as soon as possible.

Carlos Gamino

By |2021-01-17T06:40:36-06:00March 1st, 2021|Criminal Law, Traffic Offenses|Comments Off on Hit and Run in Wisconsin

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|Comments Off on Wisconsin Sex Offender Registration FAQ

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|Comments Off on Common OWI Plea Bargains

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|Comments Off on Do I Need a Lawyer for a First-Time DUI/OWI?

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