Know Your Rights

Questions & Answers

Violation Types:


Under Wisconsin criminal law, a felony conviction carries with it potential term in the a Wisconsin state prison.

The following are the penalties for the nine classes of felonies:

  • Class A Felony – life in prison
  • Class B Felony – up to 60 yrs in prison
  • Class C Felony – up to 40 yrs and $100,000
  • Class D Felony – up to 25 yrs and $100,000
  • Class E Felony – up to 15 yrs and $50,000
  • Class F Felony – up to 12 1/2 yrs and $25,000
  • Class G Felony – up to 10 yrs and $25,000
  • Class H Felony – up to 6 yrs and $10,000
  • Class I Felony – up to 3 1/2 yrs and $10,000

Felony conviction also carry with it a LIFETIME weapons prohibition (not allowed to own OR possess a firearm – not allowed to hunt) and you will no longer be eligible to vote or serve on a jury until your sentence is completed.


A misdemeanor charge carries a potential jail time as opposed to prison. This means you may be sentenced a county or local jail instead of incarceration in the Wisconsin State Prison System. Some prosecutors charge a Habitual penalty – repeat offender enhancer, which increases the incarceration portion of the misdemeanor penalty to include a prison sentence of up to two years.

  • Class A Misdemeanor – up to 9 months in prison, files of up to $10,000
  • Class B Misdemeanor – up to 90 days in prison, files of up to $1,000
  • Class C Misdemeanor – up to 30 days in prison, files of up to $500

Ordinance Violation or Municiple Citation

An ordinance violation or forfeiture is a statute enacted by a county, city, or town. These are not considered criminal convictions and do not involve an arrest. Speeding and parking citations are examples of City or County ordinance violations.

Many others common citations issued are as follows: Disorderly conduct, retail theft, theft, battery, possession of a controlled substance, speeding and the numerous other traffic violations many of us are familiar with.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am guilty. Why should I hire a lawyer?

The police don’t get it wrong every time and you might actually be guilty of what you are being accused of. Just because you are guilty does not mean that you should “throw in the towel.” A criminal conviction carries many collateral consequences that you might not immediately think about such as negative impact on future employment, inability to own or possess a firearm in the future, significant fines, lengthy probation/parole, sex offender registration, suspension of driver license, unwanted social programming, and no-contact with victim-witnesses. Despite the guilt or innocence of a client, we aggressively pursue the best possible outcome for each and every case, including limiting the collateral consequences of conviction.

Can I avoid prison or jail. Is Probation an option in my case?

The judge, by law, must usually first consider sentencing you to a term of probation before imposing a any prison or jail sentence. Probation is almost always a possibility. We have secured probationary sentences for such serious offenses as drug distribution, felon in possession of firearm, possession of child pornography, and armed robbery. If probation is not available as an option and incarceration is necessary, we ALWAYS push for the most lenient sentence possible. We stress many factors to sentencing judges such as employment history, education, family history, AODA programming, mental health issues, and all other mitigating factors related to our client’s character and the circumstances surrounding the offense. Contact us to review your facts and circumstances so we may act immediately to get you the best resolution to your legal problem.

Can I ever get this conviction removed from my record?

Depending upon the nature of the conviction and the age of the person at the time of the commission of the crime, expungement of the conviction from a criminal record may be possible. Please call us for a quick review of the facts and circustances surrounding your prior conviction to see if you are eligible for a possible expungement.

Who can get a court record expunged?

Eligibility for an expungement of an arrest, investigation, detention, or conviction record will be based on the law of the jurisdiction in which the record was made. Ordinarily, only the subject of the record may ask that the record be expunged. Often, the subject must meet a number of conditions before the request will be considered. Requirements often include:

Fulfilling a waiting period between the incident and expungement
Having no intervening incidents
The number of prior incidents
The seriousness or type of offense involved in the incident
Fulfilling the terms of any sentence
Not having any pending criminal investigation or proceedings
That the incident was disposed without a conviction
That the petitioner complete probation without any incidents

Wisconsin law allows a judge to “expunge” a case in only two situations, both involving youthful offenders:

Misdemeanors committed by a person under 21. If the judge ordered expunction upon successful completion of the sentence, the record can be expunged. See §973.015, Wis. Stats
Adjudication of a juvenile delinquent. A juvenile who has been adjudged delinquent can, upon reaching age 17, petition the judge for expunction of the juvenile adjudication. See §938.355, Wis. Stats.

An expunged case is sealed by the clerk of court and is available to be viewed only with a court order. If the judge properly orders a case expunged, any reference to it will be removed from Wisconsin Circuit Court access program which search results are available to the public. A judge has no other authority or power to expunge cases, and there are no similar provisions for other types of cases.

Does Expunction remove my case from anywhere?

Even under the limited circumstances described above, a judge can only order expunction of the court’s record. The Wisconsin Crime Information Bureau also keeps criminal records. The case may still exist in the records of the District Attorney, other law enforcement records, the Department of Transportation and other places. The judge has no authority to require removal of those records. See the Wisconsin Criminal Information Bureau for more information.

Can your office save me money?

Sometimes potential clients question the financial costs associated with hiring our Firm. Personally, freedom from incarceration or extensive scrutiny by the government by way of probation/parole does not have a price tag. Beyond personal liberty, however, our fees are oftentimes less than the cost of proceeding without a lawyer or hiring a cheaper lawyer. An experienced and aggressive attorney can save you hundreds of dollars in fines, court costs, and license reinstatement. A good lawyer might also be able to save you in losing your job or having to miss out on future employment opportunities as a result of a conviction that might have otherwise been avoided. On a weekly basis we talk to people with old criminal records that are still preventing them from obtaining meaningful employment. Oftentimes when we begin to explore with the potential client what happened in their case, a common theme is that they were inadequately represented at the time that they were going through the criminal process. These potential clients oftentimes lament, “I wish I would have hired you back then.”

How do I set up my FREE consultation?

Just pick up the phone and give us a call. We are usually available at a moment’s notice and if not, we promise to return your call as quickly as possible.

What is a felony versus a misdemeanor?

A felony is generally classifed as any criminal offense that carries a penalty of at least one year of incarceration, while a misdemeanor is generally classified as any criminal offense that carries a penalty of less than one year of incarceration.

How are criminal charges filed?

A criminal case usually begins with the police being notified of a potential crime. Law enforcement personnel are then charged with investigating the allegations in order to make a determination as to whether a crime was committed and by whom. Once the police investigation is finalized, law enforcement then presents the casefile to the prosecutor’s office for consideration of charges. Before criminal charges can be formally “filed” the allegations must be reviewed and approved by a prosecutor.

What does a pardon really mean?

A pardon restores rights that were taken away with a felony conviction. Some of these rights that can be restored are the right to vote, the right to perform jury duty, the ability to possess firearms, the right to hold public office and the right to hold various licenses such as alcohol and tobacco licenses. Many times individuals who want to regain the right to obtain a private investigator license or a security guard permit and the ability to become a law enforcement, jail, or secure detention officer.

In Wisconsin, the power to pardon belongs exclusively to the governor, who can exercise it essentially in any manner the governor sees fit. For practical purposes, Wisconsin governors have been restrained in exercising their power, having themselves establish procedures for applying for pardons, commutations, and reprieves, and establish screening panels to evaluate such applications.

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