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Wisconsin criminal penalties felony & misdemeanor charges

Penalties for Wisconsin criminal, civil and traffic violations vary greatly, from misdemeanors to forfeitures, to felonies, all based on specific criteria under Wisconsin State Statute. Penalties could be a $25 forfeiture, to up to a $10,000 Class A misdemeanor fine (plus possible jail time) or even life in prison or up to 60 years in prison for Class A and Class B felonies respectively. Penalties are on a case by case basis and only when someone is convicted of a crime, not just charged with a crime.

Tom Grieve

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What are the differences between felonies, WI misdemeanors, and non-criminal offenses like forfeiture violations? For one thing, each type of offense comes with different penalties. Find out what kind of jail time and fines you could be facing:

Tom Grieve is well-known throughout Wisconsin for getting charges and penalties drastically reduced, or even dropped completely. If you’re facing charges for criminal offenses or non-criminal violations, call for a free legal consultation.

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Wisconsin penalties for misdemeanors & felony

What's the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in Wisconsin?

The difference between a misdemeanor and a Wisconsin felony boils down to the potential penalties and the procedures in court. Anytime someone is charged with a crime, whether a misdemeanor or felony, incarceration is always a possibility. The type of incarceration depends on the type of crime. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor charge or felony charges, the maximum penalties will involve jail time. The amount of jail time is dependent upon the severity of the crime and what class it falls under.

Misdemeanor and Felony Court Procedures

Felonies and misdemeanors follow different tracks through the court system. Traditionally a misdemeanor will have an initial appearance to set bail and arraignment; a pretrial to ensure both parties have everything they need and can negotiate; and a motion hearing. Depending on the results of the motion hearing, the case can continue forward to trial or plea and sentencing, or it can be set aside for the state to evaluate the strength of evidence still left in the case.

A felony requires more steps through the court system. First, the court sets bail and bond conditions at the initial appearance. The arraignment, however, is saved until after the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing ensures extra safeguards for those charged with felonies. At the preliminary hearing, the state must show probable cause for the offense charged before the case can proceed forward. A defendant can either waive their right and acknowledge there is probable cause OR have a hearing where the state has the burden to show probable cause (a felony was probably committed and the defendant probably was the one who committed the offense). The state does not have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt yet at the preliminary hearing; the burden here is much lower.

 

Felonies
OffenseSentence
Class A Felony A Class A felony is the most serious type of crimes in Wisconsin, punishable by a minimum of life imprisonment. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50)
Class B Felony A Class B felony is punishable by up to 60 years imprisonment. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50)
Class C Felony Class C felonies are crimes punishable by a prison term of up to 40 years and/or a fine of up to $100,000. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50) Class C felony Wisconsin penalty.
Class D Felony Class D felonies are crimes punishable by a prison term of up to 25 years and/or a fine of up to $100,000. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50)
Class E Felony Class E felonies are crimes punishable by a prison term of up to 15 years and/or a fine up to $50,000. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50)
Class F Felony Class F felonies are crimes punishable by a prison term of up to 12 years and 6 months and/or a fine up to $25,000. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50)
Class G Felony Class G felonies are crimes punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years and/or a fine up to $25,000. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50) Class G felony Wisconsin penalty.
Class H Felony Class H felonies are crimes punishable by a prison term of up to 6 years and/or a fine up to $10,000. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50)
Class I Felony Class I felonies are crimes punishable by a prison term up to 3 years and 6 months and/or a fine up to $10,000. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50) Wisconsin felony I penalties.  
Misdemeanors
OffenseSentence
Class A Misdemeanor Class A Misdemeanors in Wisconsin are the most serious and are punishable by up to 9 months in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. (Wis. Stat. § 939.51)
Class B Misdemeanor Class B Misdemeanors in Wisconsin are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. (Wis. Stat. § 939.51)
Class C Misdemeanor Class C Misdemeanors in Wisconsin are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. (Wis. Stat. § 939.51)
Unclassified Misdemeanors Many misdemeanors in Wisconsin are not technically classified, such as Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated (aka: drunk driving or OWI). See more information on drunk driving penalties. If the statute does not specify a penalty, the fine will be no higher than $500 and the jail term no longer than 30 days. Learn more about Class U misdemeanors in Wisconsin.
Forfeitures
OffenseSentence
Class A Forfeiture Class A Forfeitures in Wisconsin are punishable by up to $10,000. (Wis. Stat. § 939.52)
Class B Forfeiture Class B Forfeitures in Wisconsin are punishable by up to $1,000. (Wis. Stat. § 939.52)
Class C Forfeiture Class C Forfeitures in Wisconsin are punishable by up to $500. (Wis. Stat. § 939.52)
Class D Forfeiture Class D Forfeitures in Wisconsin are punishable by up to $200. (Wis. Stat. § 939.52)
Class E Forfeiture

Class E Forfeitures in Wisconsin are punishable by up to $25. (Wis. Stat. § 939.52)

Award-Winning Defense Attorneys for Misdemeanors and Felonies in Wisconsin

With years of experience as prosecutors, the criminal defense lawyers at Grieve Law know exactly how the other side thinks. Start with a free consultation, and if you stick with us, we’ll make sure you get the best possible outcome in your misdemeanor or felony case.

Charged with a felony or misdemeanor? Call our award-winning team of drug charge defense attorneys at Grieve Law for a free initial consultation.
Class H Felony Class H felonies are crimes punishable by a prison term of up to 6 years and/or a fine up to $10,000. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50)

In Wisconsin, how long do felony and misdemeanor charges stay on your record?

Penalties in Wisconsin for criminal convictions vary from small fines, like $150 fine, to more serious misdemeanors and felonies, such as 60 years or even life in prison. Most often, unless certain circumstances are met, the charges alone remains on your record permanently.

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