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Speeding Ticket License Suspension in Wisconsin

Demerit Points and Driver’s Licenses in Wisconsin

                You woke up late and you are rushing to make it to work on time. Travelling along Highway 41 and you catch a glimpse of flashing red in your rearview mirror. Your heart sinks and you look at your speedometer . . . 85mph!?!?!? Now you know that the flashing reds are for you. On top of being late for work, you now face a fine and demerit points on your license. While it might seem easy to just pay the fine, you must consider the other consequences it could have. 

                Now, imagine earlier this year, in a snow storm, you were cited for driving too fast for conditions, worth 4 demerit points. And shortly before that, you got pulled over for inattentive driving. That’s another 4 demerit points. You simply paid both of those tickets and gained 8 demerit points. Believe it or not, your new speeding ticket has now put you in danger of a license suspension.

                The Department of Transportation has the authority to suspend driving privileges of “a habitually reckless or negligent operator” based on the number of points accrued. You will be considered “a habitually reckless or negligent operator” if you accrue 12 or more demerit points. If you accumulate 12 points within any 12-month period your license will be suspended for 2 months (6 months if you have a probationary driver’s license or driving permit). If you accrue more points, the suspension could be for as long as a year.

                In this scenario, if you just pay your ticket and accept the 4 demerit points associated with the violation, your license will be suspended for 2 months! You won’t be allowed to drive – for 2 months! If you had successfully challenged either or both of your previous citations, you wouldn’t be in this predicament. And a successful challenge of this speeding ticket would prevent you from a suspension.

                Don’t overlook challenging traffic citations before you get too deep. If you are facing a traffic citation or driver’s license suspension in Appleton, Oshkosh, Green Bay, or the surrounding area, Petit & Dommershausen, SC will be here for you. Call us at 920-739-9900.

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Is CBD Oil Legal in Wisconsin?

               If you have driven through, or live in, any medium to large-size city in Wisconsin, chances are you have seen at least one “CBD Oil Sold Here!” banner hanging in a store window. The use of CBD oil has become increasingly trendy over the last year, and many users claim that it can help promote sounder sleep, reduce inflammation and pain, and help reduce stress and anxiety. But one thing many Wisconsin consumers wonder is whether it is in fact legal to possess and use CBD oil.

The most recent bill addressing the legality of CBD oil was passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2017. The bill allowed for citizens to possess CBD oil if a doctor confirmed, in writing, that the product was being used to treat a medical condition. This law is embodied in Wis. Stat. § 961.32(2m)(b) and remains in effect to this day. What that means is that possession of CBD oil without a valid note from a doctor can technically be prosecuted as a misdemeanor criminal offense.

At this point, you may be wondering how none of your friends and family members have been charged with some sort of possession offense after leaving the CBD store on the corner with a bag full of CBD gummies, oils, or vapes without first obtaining a doctor’s note. You may also be wondering how that CBD store on the corner has been allowed to remain in business in the first place.

In 2018, the Wisconsin State Legislature passed a bill authorizing farmers throughout the state to grow industrial hemp. The hemp produced by farmers can be used to produce and sell CBD oil. Due to the conflict this created in the CBD law, the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office released a statement in May of 2018 advising law enforcement officials throughout the state to refrain from enforcing the requirement that consumers must possess a physician’s note in order to use CBD oil. In other words, while you are still technically required to have a physician’s note to use CBD oil, you will most likely not be charged with any criminal offense if you do not have one. If you’d like to play it safe, obtaining a doctor’s authorization is your best option!

While the use of CBD oil seems to be trending towards complete legalization, possession of marijuana remains illegal in the state of Wisconsin. If you or a loved one has been charged with a marijuana-related offense, call Petit & Dommershausen for legal assistance today at (920) 739-9900.

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Pardons in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s Governor has reinstated pardon review. Petit & Dommershausen, SC, offers a broad overview of the pardon process based on announced rules and governing law. Questions? Contact us today.

PARDON ELIGIBILITY

An individual is eligible for a pardon only if all of the following conditions apply to them:

  1. Must be for a felony conviction.
    1. However, if a secondary charge is a misdemeanor, it may be reviewed as well.
  2. A defendant must have completed the entire sentence at least five (5) years ago, meaning:
    1. Completed all periods of confinements; and
    2. All supervised release (i.e. probation, parole, and/or extended supervision).
  3. Has not been convicted of any new criminal offenses since completing the sentence and has no pending charges.
    1. This section includes convictions in jurisdictions outside of Wisconsin.
  4. Not currently required to register as a sex offense under Wis. Stat. § 301.45.

Must meet all of eligibility criteria or application will be denied.

Standard an Applicant Must Meet

The applicant must have a significant and documented need, such as:

  1. Employment related;
  2. Educational; and/or
  3. Job training.

Typically, it is inappropriate to apply for a pardon if (1) it is to clear one’s conscience or (2) reinstating one’s firearm rights.

  1. However, a Governor may review such cases if conviction is old and minor.
    1. Minor will depend on Governor’s interpretation of the crime.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of relevant factors when determining whether an application has a significant or documented need:

  1. Age
  2. Seriousness of conviction
  3. Extent of need
  4. Entire criminal record
  5. Applicant’s personal development since crime was committed; and
  6. Community or civic contributions since release.

Interested in learning more about applying for a pardon? Petit & Dommershausen, SC, is a Wisconsin law firm that can help. We regularly practice in Marinette County, Octonto County, Brown County, Door County, Kewaunee County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County, Waupaca County, Waushara County, Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, and Green Lake County. We offer convenient office locations in Appleton, Oshkosh, and Green Bay. We serve all of north east Wisconsin.

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What Are the Consequences of a Misdemeanor?

What will happen if I am charged with a misdemeanor? What happens after a misdemeanor conviction? Can I go to college after a misdemeanor conviction?
These and many other important questions are asked when dealing with a misdemeanor charge. Unfortunately, many people don’t fully understand the consequences of a misdemeanor conviction in Wisconsin. A conviction for a misdemeanor – especially a violent or drug-related misdemeanor – can carry serious penalties and deeply impact your life.

What Is a Misdemeanor?

Wisconsin Law States that a misdemeanor offense is an offense for which the maximum possible penalty is 12 months or less jail. A misdemeanor offense could include:

Domestic violence, like battery or disorderly conduct
Operating While Intoxicated (OWI aka DUI)
Theft
Prostitution and solicitation, and
Resisting or obstructing arrest

Misdemeanor Sentences

A misdemeanor conviction could carry a significant sentence. A sentence could include jail time, probation and other consequences that may affect your finances and freedom. Community service, fines, and other obligations could be imposed on your by the court at sentencing.

Firearm Rights

Certain misdemeanor offenses can affect your firearm rights. Even though you haven’t been convicted of a felony, certain domestic abuse offenses may impose federal prohibitions on firearm possession.

Work or School Issues

If you are sentenced to jail or have other conditions imposed on you, it may be difficult to meet the expectations of your employment or school. Following a conviction, it may be hard to find suitable employment or gain acceptance into certain types of schooling or maintain certain professional licenses.

The Petit & Dommershausen, SC, team will work with you to mitigate or lessen the harsh consequences of a misdemeanor conviction. We can employ legal strategies to review your case for potential defenses, conduct assertive negotiations on your behalf, advise you on steps that may assist the resolution of your case, and obtain outcomes that may circumvent difficulties that may arise with a charge or conviction.

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Can they take your blood if you passed out? “Mitchell v. Wisconsin: Unconscious Drivers and the Implied Consent Law”

                It is common knowledge that those who drive after consuming a sufficient amount of alcohol may be charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). While investigating an OWI case, it is common for law enforcement officials to ask the driver of the vehicle to submit to a breath and blood test. This is used to determine the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in order to prove whether the person was under the influence while driving.

Wisconsin is an “implied consent” state, which means that by operating a motor vehicle on a highway within the state, the driver has impliedly consented to a test of his or her blood or breath for the purpose of determining whether there is any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her blood. A driver may refuse to submit to those tests, but he or she may still be prosecuted for a drunk driving related offense and may face additional criminal consequences as well.

The implied consent law has been challenged in various courts, both state and federal, several times in the past. Most recently, one narrow aspect of the law was challenged before the United States Supreme Court in Mitchell v. Wisconsin. In this case, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether law enforcement has the authority under the implied consent law to perform a blood test on a suspected drunk driver who is unconscious and cannot submit to a preliminary breath test without first obtaining a search warrant.

Justice Alito, writing the main opinion for the United States Supreme Court, concluded that the exigent circumstances doctrine almost always permitted law enforcement to perform a blood draw on an unconscious subject without a warrant. The exigent circumstances doctrine allows law enforcement to conduct a search (or here, a blood test) without a warrant when potential key evidence in the investigation could be destroyed before the warrant would be obtained.

So how will this ruling be applied going forward? Wisconsin courts will most likely continue to adopt the policy that in almost every case, a warrantless blood draw can permissibly be performed by law enforcement. However, it is possible that suspected drunk drivers may be able to challenge the results of those tests if they can prove that exigent circumstances did not exist and a warrant could have been obtained prior to the performance of the tests.

If you or someone you know has been charged with an OWI-related offense, call Petit & Dommershausen for legal assistance today at (920) 739-9900.

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Legal Podcast Review with Attorney LaFond

We’ve all listened to the podcast Serial at this point (if you haven’t do you live under a rock?), so what’s next on your morning/evening commute? For all you true crime lovers out there, here are a few reviews of some of my favorites. Comment on this post today with your recommendations for me as I drive through Wisconsin defending the rights of the accused.

My Favorite Murder
If you enjoy comedic relief AND true crime, this is the podcast for you. Karen and Georgia spend each episode discussing a murder of their choice (usually for no rhyme or reason). The discussions are filled with their blatant opinions and sometimes too inappropriate commentary but there won’t be an episode where you aren’t laughing uncontrollably and/or gasping in horror and disbelief. Karen and Georgia are so entertaining that they have spent the last couple years touring the world doing live shows. They are coming to Milwaukee in May for two shows, and sorry, they were both sold out in seconds so you’ll have to get your fix from your favorite podcast app. But seriously check it out. This podcast is one of a kind!

Q: Is this REALLY a true crime podcast or is this just a comedy podcast with a true crime twist?

A: Well, yes it’s a true crime podcast in a sense that the hosts discuss real cases, but no in a sense that they actually know what they are talking about. Karen and Georgia make a point to tell the listeners that they don’t do a lot of research and don’t have any background in the field. In fact Karen is actually a comedian so that explains why this podcast often gets categorized that way. This podcast also doesn’t explore the court system and what happens to cases once they get there so if that’s what you are looking for try one of my other recommendations.

In the Dark
So far there are two seasons of this podcast and I really hope that there will be more. APM reports presents two separate cases that have brought on questions by many. The first season explores police and investigative errors that led to a case being unsolved for 27 years. The second season explores the same topics, but brings it into the court system to try and unpack how one defendant could be subjected to 7 trials and 6 reversals on appeal over a 20 year period. Both seasons present serious social and political issues that impact how our criminal justice system functions (or doesn’t function). Stay tuned for upcoming additions to season 2 as the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case of Curtis Flowers (subject of season 2) to determine whether or not the prosecutor racially discriminated in jury selection; thus depriving Mr. Flowers of his constitutional right to fair trial.

Q: Is this podcast a genuine representation of the criminal justice system?

A: Yes. A lot of research and work goes into each one of these episodes. The host is an investigative journalist and she has a whole team of researchers and investigators that assist in the behind the scenes work. They even conduct studies through the podcast to further their knowledge. If you are looking for a true and accurate representation of how a case moves through the system from start to finish, this is a podcast to add to your queue.

Sword & Scale
This podcast came out my first year as a lawyer, so as I was driving, representing clients in courts across the state, I downloaded a few episodes at the recommendation of a colleague just to see what it was all about. She warned me to only listen if I had thick skin—which is essentially a warning that the host Mike gives in nearly every episode. Sword & Scale has covered some of the most interesting and shocking criminal masterminds and cases that I had ever heard of. And what makes Sword & Scale stand out from some of the other similar podcasts is the amount of “real” case material that is actually used. Sword & Scale plays the 911 calls, the interrogation of the suspects, and the follow up interviews with witnesses that you are dying to hear. Each episode is carefully laid out and prepared. To this day it is the one podcast that I download the latest episode of the very second it comes out. Sword & Scale offers early access and supplemental episodes to patreon supporters but if you have student loans like I do, you’ll have to wait the two weeks and avoid the online spoilers!

Q: I hate how true crime podcasts seem to focus on the perpetrators, does this podcast discuss the victims at all?

A: Yes. Each episode is different in format; there will be episodes that focus on a perpetrator or suspect but there are also episodes that are dedicated to the victims of the heinous crimes described. Several episodes include interviews with family members of victims. Sword and Scale is a nice balance for true crime lovers who often feel that a victim’s story is never told or is even forgotten.

Interested in learning more about the Law? Attorney Britteny LaFond at Petit & Dommershausen, SC, is routinely out in the Northeast Wisconsin community serving her clients and staying connected. Contact the firm today to learn more.

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Domestic Enhancers: Explanation & Consequences

As a local criminal defense attorney, this is by far the most common question I get: why am I being charged with domestic abuse for a verbal argument with my significant other? I don’t blame anyone for asking this question because it is confusing, so I’ll clear it up for you today.

In Wisconsin, any offense committed against a present or former spouse, against an adult with whom the person resides with presently or formerly, or against an adult with whom the person has a child in common, is by definition a domestic abuse incident. Wis. Stat. 968.075.

Let’s break that down a little bit with an example or two. Bob divorced his wife Lisa in 2002. They run into each other at Country USA in 2016 and a fight ensues. Even though Bob and Lisa are no longer in a “domestic” relationship by common definition, they still fall within the definition under Wisconsin statutes. As a result, both Bob and Lisa are charged with Domestic Battery. A second example: Sue and Stan share custody of their 3 year old son. During a drop off at a public park, Sue yells at Stan in a profane manner. Guests of the park are offended and contact the authorities. Sue is charged with Domestic Disorderly Conduct. Because Sue and Stan share a child, they have a domestic relationship.

Now that we understand what qualifies as domestic abuse in Wisconsin, let’s talk about the consequences of this qualification. There are two primary consequences of the domestic abuse enhancer in Wisconsin. First is that in the event of a conviction, there’s a mandatory domestic abuse surcharge the individual will be required to pay. Presently the surcharge is $100 for each domestic offense but as we all know these costs can change at any time. The second primary consequence is that if an individual has two separate prior domestic offenses, they are considered a domestic abuse repeater for the third (and all subsequent offenses). Why this matters is because the enhancer for a domestic repeater actually changes the maximum penalties for the offense and, if the offense in question is only a misdemeanor, if the person is a domestic abuse repeater the status changes from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Do you need legal assistance with a domestic offense? Attorney Britteny LaFond and the rest of the legal team at Petit & Dommershausen is here to help. Call 920-739-9900 for your confidential consultation.

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Arrested for Prostitution?

Were you arrested for prostitution in Wisconsin?

Did you make a mistake?  Were you arrested?  Don’t let one mistake get in the way of making better decisions moving forward.  The Wisconsin Law Firm Petit & Dommershausen, SC, can help you today.  Our team of attorneys have the experience to guide you through the legal process, the judgment to defend your case, and the compassion to work with you through a trying time.  We can assist you in reducing the negative consequences of your law enforcement contact which may include reduction or avoidance of jail time, less intensive supervision than may have been ordered, or even dismissal of charges under the proper circumstances depending on the facts of the case.

Attorney Nathan Wojan is ready to take your call today.  Reach him at 920-739-9900 or contact the firm here.

In Wisconsin, the following laws govern prostitution related crimes:

944.30 Prostitution.
(1m)  Any person who intentionally does any of the following is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor:
(a) Has or offers to have or requests to have nonmarital sexual intercourse for anything of value.
(b) Commits or offers to commit or requests to commit an act of sexual gratification, in public or in private, involving the sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another for
          anything of value.
(c) Is an inmate of a place of prostitution.
(d) Masturbates a person or offers to masturbate a person or requests to be masturbated by a person for anything of value.
(e) Commits or offers to commit or requests to commit an act of sexual contact for anything of value.
944.31 Patronizing prostitutes. Except as provided in s. 948.081, any person who enters or remains in any place of prostitution with intent to have nonmarital sexual intercourse or to commit an act of sexual gratification, in public or in private, involving the sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another, masturbation or sexual contact with a prostitute is guilty of the following:
(1) For a first or 2nd violation, a Class A misdemeanor.
(2) For a 3rd or subsequent violation, a Class I felony.
944.32 Soliciting prostitutes. Except as provided under s. 948.08, whoever intentionally solicits or causes any person to practice prostitution or establishes any person in a place of prostitution is guilty of a Class H felony.
944.33 Pandering. Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor:
(1) Solicits another to have nonmarital sexual intercourse or to commit an act of sexual gratification, in public or in private, involving the sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another, masturbation or sexual contact with a person the solicitor knows is a prostitute; or
(2) With intent to facilitate another in having nonmarital intercourse or committing an act of sexual gratification, in public or in private, involving the sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another, masturbation or sexual contact with a prostitute, directs or transports the person to a prostitute or directs or transports a prostitute to the person.
944.34 Keeping place of prostitution. Whoever intentionally does any of the following is guilty of a Class H felony:
(1) Keeps a place of prostitution; or
(2) Grants the use or allows the continued use of a place as a place of prostitution.
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Understand a Misdemeanor Charge in Wisconsin

MISDEMEANOR IN WISCONSIN

In Wisconsin, a misdemeanor is a crime that can be punished by a year or less in jail – unlike a felony, a crime that can be punished by a year or more in prison. Most Wisconsin misdemeanors are Class A, B, or C misdemeanors.

Class C Misdemeanors are the least serious crimes.  A person convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, without more, can be sentenced to up to 30 days in a county jail, a fine up $500, or some combination of the two.

Class B Misdemeanors are more serious.  A person convicted of a Class B Misdemeanor, without more, can be sentenced to up to 90 days in a county jail, a fine up to $1,000, or some combination of the two.

Class A misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanors.  A person convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor can be sentenced to up to 9 months in a county jail, a fine up to $10,000, or some combination of the two.

 

A judge must consider anyone convicted of a misdemeanor in Wisconsin for probation instead of or in addition to time in jail.  Many people convicted of misdemeanors never actually have to go to jail at all – but probation comes with many restrictions on the person’s behavior while it lasts.

 

An experienced misdemeanor defense attorney can help defend you at a trial – for instance, if you did not commit the misdemeanor the prosecutor accused you of committing.   Sometimes a misdemeanor defense attorney can even get your prosecution deferred so you don’t get convicted of anything at all.  A criminal defense attorney can also help you work out a deal with the prosecutor if you are willing to plead guilty.  Last, if a judge or jury convicts you of a misdemeanor, a criminal defense attorney can represent you at sentencing for a misdemeanor, including by explaining to the judge why you should get a shorter sentence, permission to serve your sentence in another county, probation instead of jail, or a fine instead of probation.

 

Criminal defense attorneys at Petit & Dommershausen defend people accused of misdemeanors every day.  Our criminal defense attorneys practice in Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac, Calumet, Shawano, Waupaca, and Waushara Counties, and sometimes other counties too. Contact us today.