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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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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.

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What is the difference between a crime and an ordinance violation in Wisconsin?

Ordinance Violation or Criminal Offense?

In all counties, including Fond du Lac and Winnebago County, Wisconsin state law provides the answer to this question.  In Wisconsin, a statute numbered 939.12 explains in simple language the difference. A “crime” is defined as conduct that is prohibited by state law and that is punishable by a fine or imprisonment or both. A person can be sentenced directly to jail for a criminal conviction. Conduct that is punishable only by a forfeiture (fine) is not a crime. One thing to remember though is that sometimes a failure to pay a forfeiture or fine on an ordinance can still result in “sanctions”, including jail, for failure to pay those fines. However, jail is not a direct consequence of an ordinance violation.

As the definition above states, a crime is prohibited by “state” law. Ordinances are issued for conduct that is prohibited by a municipality, such as a city, town, village, or borough, which are a political subdivisions of the State of Wisconsin. These municipalities are local governments in a defined geographical area.   Often times municipal ordinances mimic or reference state law. The Wisconsin Law Library provides online access to nearly half of Wisconsin’s municipalities and counties that have made some or all of their ordinances available online (http://wilawlibrary.gov/topics/ordinances.php).

A blog post by attorney Catherine Block.  Attorney Block practices in the areas of Criminal, Juvenile, Guardianship, Family Law, and can handle local Ordinances as well. Please reach out to Attorney Block at https://pdlawoffice.com/ or 920-231-0699.

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Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): Penalties and Consequences in Wisconsin

The possession of marijuana and substances containing any amount of THC remains illegal in Wisconsin. Therefore, even if you have obtained a legal prescription of medical marijuana from another state, it becomes illegal when you bring it into Wisconsin. Under the Wisconsin Controlled Substances Act, THC is considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance in the same category as LSD, heroin and PCP. This classification makes the penalties for marijuana possession in Wisconsin sizable and includes damaging repercussions. Attorneys in Appleton and Oshkosh are here to help with these serious offenses.

For a first time offense of THC possession in Wisconsin: Charged as a misdemeanor but still carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. Every subsequent conviction is then considered a Class I felony with penalties up to $10,000 and 3 years, 6 months in jail. It’s also important to note that with every drug conviction in the state of Wisconsin, a suspension of driving privileges for up to 5 years is included. If you are a college student and charged with drug possession in Wisconsin you are at risk for losing federal student grants and loans. If a THC possession offense occurred within 1,000 feet of a school, public park, school bus or various other building, you could be required to complete 100 hours of community service in addition to the above penalties. There are other charges you could face if the drug possession offense occurred while you were driving or if you were in an illegal possession of a firearm at the time of your arrest. Fox Valley and Oshkosh attorneys here at Petit & Dommershausen are available to help.

In addition to the penalties one could face with possession of THC, there are also penalties for cultivating or selling this illegal drug. These punishments vary according to the amount possessed, grown, or sold and the penalty increases for sales to minors or if the sale occurs within a drug free school zone.

If you or a family member has been charged with a marijuana possession or delivery offense in the Appleton, Oshkosh or Fox Valley area, consult an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer here at Petit & Dommershausen as soon as possible. You can reach skilled Fox Valley attorneys at 920-739-9900 or our outstanding Oshkosh attorneys at 920-231-0699.

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Fighting a College Suspension or Expulsion

Worried about a college suspension?

Did you know that the Wisconsin Administrative Code permits UW System Universites and Colleges to suspend and/or expel students for violations of the student code when the student is on campus or off campus? You heard that right, the administration can punish you for something that doesn’t happen at school.  If you are in College, you should be aware of the following information!

Administrators at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay (UW-Green Bay UWGB) or the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh (UW Oshkosh UWO), or any of the other UW Schools, have the power to discipline students for activity that happens in an off-campus apartment, home, tavern or bar, or anywhere else.

In fact, the administration has the power to investigate and discipline students for conduct on or outside university lands.  If an administration official believes that:

  • (a) The conduct constitutes or would constitute a serious criminal offense, regardless of the existence of any criminal proceedings.
  • (b) The conduct indicates that the student presented or may present a danger or threat to the health or safety of himself, herself or others.
  • (c) The conduct demonstrates a pattern of behavior that seriously impairs the university’s ability to fulfill its teaching, research, or public service missions.

then the administration has the power to issue discipline. A student could be banned from certain campus areas, suspended from school, or expelled from all Wisconsin Universities or Colleges.

The process may start with a request for a meeting at the Dean of Students office.  A lawyer can help you prepare for this meeting and can attend with you.  Keeping a student status is valuable for every student’s future.  Students should be prepared for each step of a Dean of Student’s investigation.  While the process may start with what seems like a harmless meeting at the Dean of Student’s office, it may proceed towards serious sanctions or even a loss of the ability to attend your University or College of choice.

You have the capability to consult an Attorney!  Call Petit & Dommershausen Law Office today.  Ask for Attorney Nathan Wojan or one of the other lawyers at the firm.  Your future is important, let P&D provide you with the help that you need.

UWS 17.09Conduct subject to disciplinary action. In accordance with s. UWS 17.08, the university may discipline a student for engaging in, attempting to engage in, or assisting others to engage in any of the following types of nonacademic misconduct:
(1) Dangerous conduct. Conduct that endangers or threatens the health or safety of oneself or another person.
(2) Sexual assault. Conduct defined in s. 940.225, Stats.
(3) Stalking. Conduct defined in s. 940.32, Stats.
(4) Harassment. Conduct defined in s. 947.013, Stats.
(5)Hazing. Conduct defined in s. 948.51, Stats.
(6) Illegal use, possession, manufacture, or distribution of alcohol or controlled substances. Use, possession, manufacture, or distribution of alcoholic beverages or of marijuana, narcotics, or other controlled substances, except as expressly permitted by law or university policy.
(7) Unauthorized use of or damage to property. Unauthorized possession of, use of, moving of, tampering with, damage to, or destruction of university property or the property of others.
(8) Disruption of university-authorized activities. Conduct that obstructs or impairs university-run or university-authorized activities, or that interferes with or impedes the ability of a person to participate in university-run or university-authorized activities.
(9) Forgery or falsification. Unauthorized possession of or fraudulent creation, alteration, or misuse of any university or other governmental document, record, key, electronic device, or identification.
(10) Misuse of computing resources. Conduct that involves any of the following:
(a) Failure to comply with laws, license agreements, and contracts governing university computer network, software, and hardware use.
(b) Use of university computing resources for unauthorized commercial purposes or personal gain.
(c) Failure to protect a personal password or university-authorized account.
(d) Breach of computer security, invasion of privacy, or unauthorized access to university computing resources.
(11) False statement or refusal to comply regarding a university matter. Making a knowingly false oral or written statement to any university employee or agent of the university regarding a university matter, or refusal to comply with a reasonable request on a university matter.
(12) Violation of criminal law. Conduct that constitutes a criminal offense as defined by state or federal law.
(13) Serious and repeated violations of municipal law. Serious and repeated off-campus violations of municipal law.
(14) Violation of ch. UWS 18. Conduct that violates ch. UWS 18, including, but not limited to, provisions regulating fire safety, theft, and dangerous weapons.
(15) Violation of university rules. Conduct that violates any published university rules, regulations, or policies, including provisions contained in university contracts with students.
(16) Noncompliance with disciplinary sanctions. Conduct that violates a sanction, requirement, or restriction imposed in connection with previous disciplinary action.
(17) Dating violence. Violence committed by a student against another person with whom they are in a “dating relationship” as defined in s. 813.12 (1) (ag), Stats.
(18) Domestic violence. Conduct defined as “domestic abuse” in ss. 813.12 (1) (am) and 968.075, Stats.
(19) Sexual Harassment. Conduct defined in s. 111.32 (13), Stats., or as defined in Board of Regent Policy that addresses sexual harassment
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Appealing a Criminal Conviction

What does a criminal appeal entail?

I often receive calls from people that have retained other lawyers and have been sentenced in criminal matters and are unhappy with the results.  The first question asked by people is: can I appeal this?  The second question I am invariably asked is: how good do my chances look?  The first question is easy to answer because appeals are governed, for the most part, by the Wisconsin statutes.  If someone has been criminally convicted, they have the absolute right to appeal the decision as long as it is done in a timely manner.  At the end of every sentencing hearing, a judge will instruct the defense attorney to inform their client about their right to appeal and will have the client sign a document that indicates that if they wish to do so, a Notice of Intent to Pursue Post-Conviction Relief must be filed within 20 days of the sentencing date.  It is, at that point, when defendants then seem to get lost in the process. Because the original trial attorney’s representation ends after sentencing the  ball would fall in the defendant’s court.  If a defendant is eligible for a public defender, the State Public Defender’s office would appoint an appellate attorney and that attorney could represent the person.  Often, however, the person is not eligible for public defender representation or wishes to hire counsel of their own choosing.  What do they do next?

A blog post prepared by Attorney Greg Petit.  Read more here.

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How Do I Keep My Criminal Case Out of the Newspaper?

Criminal Case Newspaper | Criminal Charge Publicity

I am often asked how I can keep somebody’s case out of the newspaper.  Unfortunately, under the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution, there is the freedom of the press.  Any criminal type charges, aside from  actions in juvenile court, are open to the public.  The documents themselves are open and available for inspection at the Clerk of Courts’ office, many people access the information from the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access Program and the hearings themselves (with rare exceptions) are open to the public.

When our office represents our clients, we have a very firm office policy concerning publicity. We actively try to minimize press coverage on a case.  A blog post by Attorney Greg Petit.  Read more here.

Continue reading How Do I Keep My Criminal Case Out of the Newspaper?

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Restorative Justice

How Restorative Justice Can Help Everyone Impacted by Crime

Restorative justice is a philosophical approach to dealing with crime in the community and working to repair some (or in some cases, all) of the damage. It invokes the participation of victims, the community, and offenders. Dr. Howard Zehr, a scholar in restorative justice says we need to ask 3 questions: (1) what is the harm; (2) what needs to be done to repair the harm; and (3) who is responsible for the repair?

Restorative justice focuses on the ripple effect of crime against an individual or the community. Victims have the opportunity to express the full impact the crime has had on their lives, to receive answers to lingering questions about the incident (often times, the unanswered why me question), and to participate in holding the offender accountable for their actions and the impact they have caused. Offenders can tell their side of the story, such as why the crime occurred and how it has affected them personally. Offenders are given the opportunity to help in the healing process of the victim to whatever degree possible. Restorative justice helps support victims and communities in the hearing process—something traditional courts and punishments have ignored.

Continue reading Restorative Justice