Milwaukee Criminal Defense Attorney: Felony & Misdemeanor Charges in WI

Understanding Wisconsin Sentencing for Criminal Offenses

Our Lawyers Find the Best Defenses to Criminal Charges in Wisconsin to Reduce Exposure to Criminal Penalties

Wisconsin Criminal Law Attorneys:

We Inform Our Clients about WI Criminal Sentencing Laws, Penalty Enhancers, Truth in Sentencing & Applicable Wisconsin Sentencing Guidelines when Charged with Misdemeanor or Felony Offenses in Milwaukee or Surrounding Communities

The best criminal defense lawyers in Wisconsin are those who communicate frequently with their clients, listen to their clients, and understand the importance of their client's having an informed voice in the process.  A Waukesha or Milwaukee criminal lawyer from our firm handles a wide variety of serious felony, misdemeanor & DUI offenses in Milwaukee and Waukesha, or anywhere in SE Wisconsin, with a commitment to provide the best legal representation to every client facing Wisconsin criminal charges.  Whether you maintain your innocence and are looking for a trial or want to resolve your case through plea negotiations, your Waukesha or Milwaukee criminal defense attorney will advocate zealously on your behalf.  If you are found guilty of any offense in Wisconsin, we find creative sentencing options to mitigate the offense in Court and obtain the lowest sentence possible.

In 1998 Wisconsin lawmakers decided to abolish parole in Wisconsin and indeterminate sentencing for criminal offenses, and created what is known as "truth in sentencing" in Wisconsin. Since that time, when judges used to give sentences and parole boards and institutional criteria determined how long someone actually spent in custody, now the judge pronounces a sentence which is supposed to be exactly how long someone will actually spend in custody and exactly how long someone will spend on supervision in any criminal case. Of course, the current Wisconsin criminal sentencing statutes haven't worked out to be such a straight-forward sentencing system after all, but our attorneys clearly explain the possible consequences of any offenses our clients are charged with, whether it is a felony in Milwaukee, a misdemeanor in Waukesha, or any other criminal or traffic charge in Wisconsin.  
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Sentences for Criminal Offenses in Wisconsin
CRIMINAL LAW PRACTICE
Wisconsin Mandatory Sentencing Provisions:
Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Certain Offenses
  • Child Sex Offenses:  For certain sex crimes committed by offenders who are at least age of 18, the judge is required to order a sentence of at least 5 or 25 years of initial confinement in prison, depending on the offense.
  • Repeat Serious Sex Offenses in violation of Wisconsin Statutes § 940.225(1) or (2) (First or Second Degree Sexual Assault):  The court generally must impose a sentence of at least 3 1/2 years and is prohibited from ordering probation.  However, if the offender has a prior conviction in any jurisdiction for First Degree Sexual Assault (or a similar offense) and is convicted of another offense of First Degree Sexual Assault, then the maximum term of imprisonment is life imprisonment without the possibility of extended supervision.  
  • ​Repeat Serious Violent Crime in violation of Wisconsin Statutes § 940.03 or 940.05 (Felony Murder or 2nd degree Intentional Homicide:  The judge generally must impose a sentence of at least 3 1/2 years, and is prohibited from ordering probation. 

Presumptive Minimum Sentences for Certain Offenses
  • Child Sex Offenses:  From certain sex crimes committed by offenders who are at least age 18 or if the offender is no more than 48 months older than the victim, the judge is required to order a sentence of at least 3 or at least 5 years of initial confinement in prison, depending on the offense; however, the judge has the discretion to impose a sentence less than the mandatory minimum, including the discretion to order probation, if the judge finds that the best interests of the community will be served and the public will not be harmed.

Use of Criminal Sentencing Guidelines in Wisconsin 
​Courts are required to consider the Wisconsin sentencing guidelines, but are not required to follow the guideline, when sentencing someone for any of the following offenses: 
  • Robbery contrary to Wisconsin Statutes § 943.32(1)(a),(b);
  • Armed Robbery contrary to Wisconsin Statutes § 943.32(2);
  • Burglary contrary to Wisconsin Statutes § 943.10(1m)(a),(b),(c),(d),(e),(f);
  • Theft (>$10,000) Wis. Stat. §943.20 (1)(a),(b),(c),(d),(e);
  • Forgery/Uttering contrary to Wisconsin Statutes § 943.38(1)(a),(b),(c),(d) and § 943.38(2);
  • Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine (1g or less) contrary to Wisconsin Statutes § 961.41(1)(cm);
  • Possession with Intent to Deliver THC (200g-1000g) contrary to Wisconsin Statutes § 961.41(1m)(h);
  • First Degree Sexual Assault contrary to Wisconsin Statutes § 940.225(1)(a),(b),(c);
  • Second Degree Sexual Assault contrary to Wisconsin Statutes § 940.225(2)(a),(b),(c),(cm),(d),(f),(g),(h),(i);
  • First Degree Sexual Assault of a Child contrary to Wisconsin Statutes § 948.02(1);
  • Second Degree Sexual Assault of a Child contrary to Wisconsin Statutes § 948.02(2).

Wisconsin Statutes § 939.50: ​Criminal Penalties for Felony Crimes by Classification
Penalty for a conviction of a Class A Felony Offense in Wisconsin:  
  • Maximum Imprisonment:  Life; 
  • Maximum Initial Confinement:  Life
Penalty for a conviction of a Class B Felony Offense in Wisconsin:
  • Maximum Imprisonment:  60 years* (increased penalty for 2nd offense of 1st degree sexual assault)
  • Maximum Initial Confinement:  40 years in prison
  • Maximum Extended Supervision:  20 years
Penalty for a conviction of a Class C Felony Offense in Wisconsin:
  • ​Maximum Imprisonment: 40 years
  • Maximum Initial Confinement: 25 years in prison
  • Maximum Extended Supervision: 15 years
  • Maximum Fine:  $100,000
Wisconsin Statutes § 939.51: ​Criminal Penalties for Misdemeanor Crimes by Classification
Penalty for a conviction of a Class A Misdemeanor Offenses in Wisconsin:  
  • Maximum Imprisonment: 9 months in jail
  • Maximum Fine:  $10,000
Penalty for a conviction of a Class B Misdemeanor Offenses in Wisconsin:
  • Maximum Imprisonment: 90 days in jail
  • Maximum Fine:  $1,000
Penalty for a conviction of a  Class C Misdemeanor Offenses in Wisconsin:
  • ​Maximum Imprisonment: 30 days in jail
  • Maximum Fine: $500
​Wisconsin Increased Penalty Enhancers
Habitual Criminality Enhancers / Repeat Offenders:  
Repeat offenders are defined as anyone who was convicted of a felony charge or 3 misdemeanor charges (on 3 separate occasions) in the 5 years before the time the crime for which he or she is being sentenced was committed, excluding time spent serving a sentence in custody, and those offenses remain of record.  According to Wisconsin Statutes § 939.62(1), if anyone is convicted as a "repeater," the maximum term of imprisonment prescribed by law for that crime may be increased as follows (subject to certain exceptions):
  • A maximum term of imprisonment of one year or less may be increased to not more than 2 years.
  • A maximum term of imprisonment of more than one year but not more than 10 years may be increased by not more than 2 years if the prior convictions were for misdemeanors and by not more than 4 years if the prior conviction was for a felony.
  • A maximum term of imprisonment of more than 10 years may be increased by not more than 2 years if the prior convictions were for misdemeanors and by not more than 6 years if the prior conviction was for a felony.

Habitual Criminality Enhancers / Persistent Repeaters:
Persistent Repeaters are defined as certain people with 2 prior serious felony convictions or 1 prior conviction for a serious child sex offense.  According to Wisconsin Statutes § 939.62(2m), if anyone is convicted as a persistent repeater, the term of imprisonment for the felony for which the persistent repeater presently is being sentenced under ch. 973 is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or extended supervision.

Enhancers for Domestic Abuse Repeater Offenses:
Domestic abuse repeater means someone who commits a criminal act of domestic abuse during the 72 hours immediately following an arrest for a domestic abuse incident, regardless of whether the 72 hour no-contact order had been waived; or someone generally who was convicted of a felony charge or misdemeanor offenses, on 2 separate occasions during the 10-year period before the time of the current offense, and those offenses remain on record. 
If a domestic abuse repeater commits a crime of domestic violence under Wisconsin Statutes § 968.075 (1) (a), the maximum term of imprisonment for that crime may be increased by not more than 2 years. The penalty increase under this section changes the status of a misdemeanor to a felony.

Enhancers for Use of a Dangerous Weapon in the Commission of a Crime:
According to Wisconsin Statutes § 939.63, generally, if someone commits a crime while possessing, using or threatening to use a dangerous weapon, unless the possession, use or threat is an essential element of the crime charged, the maximum term of imprisonment for the crime may be increased as follows:
  • Misdemeanor charges:  the maximum term of imprisonment may be increased by up to 6 months.
  • Felony offenses for which the maximum term of imprisonment is > 5 years:  the maximum term of imprisonment may be increased by up to 5 years.
  • Felony charges for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 2 - 5 years: the maximum term of imprisonment may be increased by up to 4 years.
  • Felonies for which the maximum term of imprisonment is < 2 years:  the maximum term of imprisonment may be increased by up to 3 years.

Enhancers for Commission of Violent Crime in a School Zone:
According to Wisconsin Statuts § 939.632, someone who commits any felony under Wisconsin Statutes § 940.01, 940.02, 940.03, 940.05, 940.09 (1c), 940.19 (2), (4) or (5), 940.21, 940.225 (1), (2) or (3), 940.235, 940.305, 940.31, 941.20, 941.21, 943.02, 943.06, 943.10 (2), 943.23 (1g), 943.32 (2), 948.02 (1) or (2), 948.025, 948.03 (2) (a) or (c), 948.05, 948.051, 948.055, 948.07, 948.08, 948.085, or 948.30 (2) or under s. 940.302 (2) if s. 940.302 (2) (a) 1. b; or a solicitation to commit a Class A felony under Wisconsin Statutes § 939.30 - 939.32; or any misdemeanor under Wisconsin Statutes § 940.19 (1), 940.225 (3m), 940.32 (2), 940.42, 940.44, 941.20 (1), 941.23, 941.235, 941.24 or 941.38 (3), may be required to complete 100 hours of community service, and the maximum term of imprisonment is increased as follows:
  • If the violent crime is a felony, the maximum term of imprisonment is increased by 5 years.
  • If the violent crime is a misdemeanor, the maximum term of imprisonment is increased by 3 months and the place of imprisonment is the county jail.

Enhancers for Hate Crimes:
According to Wisconsin Statutes § 939.645, subject to certain exceptions when the biased conduct is an element of the the crime charged, anyone who commits a crime under Wisconsin Statutes § 939 to 948; who intentionally selects the victim of the crime in whole or in part due to the accused's belief or perception regarding the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry of the victim, regardless of whether the belief or perception was correct:
  • If the crime is ordinarily a Class B or C misdemeanor:  the maximum fine is $10,000 and maximum imprisonment becomes 1 year in the county jail.
  • If the crime is ordinarily a Class A misdemeanor:  the crime become a felony with a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 2 years.
  • If the crime is a felony:  the maximum fine may be increased by not more than $5,000 and the maximum term of imprisonment may be increased by up to 5 years.
Wisconsin Sex Offender Registration and Lifetime Supervision
Sex Offender Registration
  • According to Wisconsin Statutes § 301.45, generally, subject to certain exceptions, registration as a sex offender is required for anyone placed on lifetime supervision or convicted, found delinquent, or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect of a violation, or the solicitation, conspiracy, or attempt to commit a violation, of Wisconsin Statutes § 940.22 (2), 940.225 (1), (2) or (3), 944.06, 948.02 (1) or (2), 948.025, 948.05, 948.051, 948.055, 948.06, 948.07 (1) to (4), 948.075, 948.08, 948.085, 948.095, 948.11 (2) (a) or (am), 948.12, 948.13, or 948.30, of s. 940.302 (2) if s. 940.302 (2) (a) 1. b. applies, or of § 940.30 or 940.31 if the victim was a minor and the person who committed the violation was not the victim's parent.
Lifetime Supervision for Sex Crimes:
  • When anyone is convicted of a "serious sex offense" (or found not guilty of a serious sex offense by reason of mental disease or defect) the court may place the person on lifetime supervision, to begin at the conclusion of any period of incarceration, supervision, probation or commitment, if the judge decides that lifetime supervision is necessary to protect the public, subject to certain exceptions.  Violations, or solicitation, conspiracy, or attempt to commit a violation, of Wisconsin Statutes § 940.22 (2), 940.225 (1), (2), or (3), 948.02 (1) or (2), 948.025 (1), 948.05 (1) or (1m), 948.051, 948.055 (1), 948.06, 948.07, 948.075, 948.08, 948.085, 948.11 (2) (a), 948.12, or 948.13 or of s. 940.302 (2) if s. 940.302 (2) (a) 1. b. applies are generally all considered "serious sex offenses."  Additionally, any other violations, or the solicitation, conspiracy or attempt to commit a violation, under Wisconsin Statutes chapters 940, 943, 944 or 948 is considered a "serious sex offense" if the judge determines that the violation was for the purpose of the actor's sexual arousal or gratification.
Enhancers for Controlled Substances Offenses:
According to Wisconsin Statute § 961.48, the maximum term of imprisonment may be increased for anyone who commits a second or subsequent felony narcotics crime in Wisconsin:
  • If the crime is a class C or D felony the maximum term of imprisonment may be increased by up to 6 years.
  • If the crime is a class E, F, G, H or I felony the maximum term of imprisonment may be increased by up to 4 years.
According to Wisconsin Statutes ​§ 961.49 and 961.495, the penalties for certain controlled substances offenses may be increased by 5 years of imprisonment if the drug crime is alleged to have occurred in a public housing project, or within 1,000 feet of any school or school bus, public park or swimming pool, youth or community center, jail, or correctional facility.
Wisconsin Statutes § 346.65:  Penalties for Drunk Driving Crimes
The penalty for conviction of a drunk driving offense in Wisconsin depends on the number of prior offenses, the recency of any prior convictions, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the offense, ages of passengers in the vehicle, and whether there was an injury sustained as a result.  For more complete information on Wisconsin drunk driving laws and penalties, visit our Wisconsin Drunk Driving Defense page.  
Wisconsin Statutes § 939.32(3):  Penalties for Attempted Crimes
​Generally speaking, the penalty for an attempted crime is half the penalty for a completed crime. However, the penalty for attempting a class A felony in wisconsin is a maximum of 60 years imprisonment (40 years in initial confinement and 20 years of extended supervision).
Frequently Asked Questions about Criminal Sentencing Laws in Wisconsin:
  • If I am being charged with a felony in Wisconsin, what is the possible sentence?
          - What is the penalty for  a class A felony?
          - What is the penalty for a class B felony?
          - What is the penalty for a class C felony?
          - What is the penalty for a class D felony?
          - What is the penalty for a class F felony?
          - What is the penalty for a class H felony?
          - What is the penalty for a class I felony?
          - What is the penalty for an unclassified felony in Wisconsin?
  • What are the penalty enhancers are there in Wisconsin?
          - What is the penalty for being a habitual criminal?
          - What is the penalty for being classified as a persistent offender?
          - What is the penalty for repeat offenses of domestic violence?​
          - What is the penalty enhancer for weapons offenses in Wisconsin?
          - What is the penalty enhancer for committing a crime in a school zone?
          - What is the hate crime penalty enhancer?
Penalty for a conviction of Class D Felony Offense in Wisconsin:
  • Maximum Imprisonment: 25 years
  • Maximum Initial Confinement: 15 years in prison
  • Maximum Extended Supervision: 10 years
  • Maximum Fine: $100,000
Penalty for a conviction Class E Felony Offense in Wisconsin:
  • Maximum Imprisonment: 15 years
  • Maximum Initial Confinement: 10 years in prison
  • Maximum Extended Supervision: 5 years
  • Maximum Fine: $50,000​
​Penalty for a conviction of a Class F Felony Offense in Wisconsin:
  • Maximum Imprisonment: 12 1/2 years
  • Maximum Initial Confinement: 7 1/2 years in prison
  • Maximum Extended Supervision: 5 years
  • Maximum Fine: $25,000
Penalty for a conviction of a Class G Felony Offense in Wisconsin:
  • ​Maximum Imprisonment: 10 years
  • Maximum Initial Confinement: 5 years in prison
  • Maximum Extended Supervision: 5 years
  • Maximum Fine: $25,000
Penalty for a conviction of a Class H Felony Offense in Wisconsin:
  • ​​Maximum Imprisonment: 6 years
  • Maximum Initial Confinement: 3 years in prison
  • Maximum Extended Supervision: 3 years
  • Maximum Fine: $10,000
Penalty for a conviction of a Class I Felony Offense in Wisconsin:
  • ​​Maximum Imprisonment: 3 1/2 years
  • Maximum Initial Confinement: 1 1/2 years in prison
  • Maximum Extended Supervision: 2 years
  • Maximum Fine: $10,000
Penalty for a conviction of an Unclassified Felony Offense in Wisconsin:
  • Maximum Initial Confinement: 75% of the total length of the bifurcated sentence
  • Mimimum ​Extended Supervision: 25% of the total length of the bifurcated sentence
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