Cash bail is being abused in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin attorneys at Nicholson, Gansner & Otis are fighting back.

“Bail” is defined in the Wisconsin statutes as “monetary conditions of release.”

It is commonplace in Wisconsin for a court to impose thousands of dollars of cash bail in cases where a defendant is charged with a serious crime.  This means that a defendant who has been charged–but not convicted–of a serious crime must post thousands of dollars to be released from jail, or sit in jail as he (or she) awaits trial.

Applying cash bail in this manner–reflexively, almost automatically in cases where a serious felony is charged, and in large amounts–is inconsistent with the law.  It amounts to pre-trial detention. This is not what bail is for.  There is a legal presumption in favor of pre-trial release without posting cash bail.  Which, if one thinks about it, makes perfect sense; it is consistent with the presumption of innocence.  In this country, a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until he is proven guilty.  If a person is presumed innocent, it is not right or reasonable to hold him in jail until he is proven otherwise.   As a result, if courts are actually to follow the law, a defendant can be required to post cash bail only under certain circumstances.

Under Wisconsin law, cash bail may be imposed only upon a finding by the court that there is a reasonable basis to believe that cash bail is necessary to assure the appearance of the defendant in court.  There’s a lot of legalese to unpack there.  What it means is that, under the law, a court may only order cash bail if it first makes a finding that without cash bail the defendant may not show up for future court dates.  There is a presumption that cash bail is not necessary.  So the burden is on the government to demonstrate some factual basis for the court to believe that the defendant might not show up unless cash bail is ordered.

It is the position of the attorneys at Nicholson, Gansner & Otis that a serious felony charge or charges alone are not enough to overcome the presumption in favor of no cash bail.  That is, just because someone is charged with a serious felony does not automatically mean, without any other facts, that he is unlikely to show up for future court dates.  Prosecutors routinely argue the opposite, and judges routinely accept the opposite without any actual data or proof that it is so.  The argument made by prosecutors is that a person charged with a serious crime faces the possibility of a long prison sentence, which provides a strong incentive to run, flee, or otherwise not show up for court.  The corollary is that if a person posts a large amount of money in order to secure his release, he is more likely not to run because he will not want to forfeit all that money.  But we are unaware of any data–that is, evidence, or proof–that this is statistically true.

The law makes it clear that for a judge to make a finding that cash bail is necessary to assure the future appearance of the defendant, it must be presented with some evidence to support that finding.  Under the law, a court may not blindly accept the prosecutor’s common argument.  To accept the common argument is to accept the proposition that all people charged with a serious crime are unreliable and unlikely to appear for court.  The problem for the government is that there is no data that we are aware of that supports it.

To the contrary, there are social science studies which demonstrate that the ability to pay bail is not a strong predictor of pre-trial success (defined as appearing at all court dates and remaining arrest-free).

Ties to the community through family and work are strong predictors of pre-trial success, these studies show.  A history of prior felony convictions, juvenile arrests, and missed court dates are, not surprisingly, associated with pre-trial failure.  Even for a defendant with some risk of pre-trial failure, the chance of success can be increased through supports like Dane County’s Bail Monitoring Program.

What does this mean for you?  It means that if you are facing serious felony charges, it does not automatically follow that you should be rotting away in jail while you await trial.  There are times when cash bail, even a large amount of cash bail, is legally appropriate.  But far too often, defendants who should not be sitting in jail before trial are.  Judges have come to accept superficial arguments unsupported by data from prosecutors.  This has become the status quo around Wisconsin.  But not with us.  We are pushing back.

If you are facing serious charges, it is important that you remain free as you await your day in court.  Of course you would prefer the comfort of your own home and the support of your family and friends over the jail.  More significantly, you will be better able to assist in your own defense if you are out in the community.

If you are facing serious felony charges (homicide, sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, drug offenses), call the Wisconsin criminal trial attorneys of Nicholson, Gansner & Otis.  We are fighting the bail wars.  We have had great success keeping clients out of custody as they fight their charges.  Call us today for an assessment of the particular facts of your case.

 

 

By Attorney Jessa Nicholson Goetz:

Let me start with a disclaimer: I believe that “rape culture” is a real and dangerous thing. I believe that “no means no” and that when initiating sexual contact an affirmative “yes” ought to be required, despite the awkwardness such requests might present.  I have “taken back the night” in multiple demonstrations over the years, and I sure as shit think that it is a very low bar, indeed, to suggest that a person be conscious when another party initiates sexual contact and/or intercourse. This is an obvious point, but an important one—simply put, I do not condone sexual assault. Before I went to law school, I worked in Victim’s Rights at a DV shelter that also had a crisis line for survivors of both sexual assault and domestic violence. One of the things that motivated me to attend law school was a desire to be able to more actively participate in victim advocacy, because being in court with my clients without the ability to speak up for them was so frustrating. If you had asked me 15 years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea that I would ever be a defense attorney instead of a prosecutor. Despite that, I have spent the past decade defending individuals accused of crimes. My case load is not comprised of the casual college-student pot smokers I envisioned representing, but rather is largely composed of sex crimes, crimes of domestic violence, child abuse, and homicide.
People sometimes confuse standing for the rights of the accused with somehow tolerating criminal behavior. This is unfair and untrue. I have reviewed evidence in child pornography cases that has led me to sit in my car, crying, calling my parents to thank them for having worked to protect me when I was still too small to protect myself. I have gone into trials convinced of a client’s guilt. I’ve disliked–even hated–a number of clients I’ve represented. (I have also come to deeply care about some of them with full knowledge of the depths of what they’ve done , but that’s another topic entirely). I have appeared at sentencing hearings where I have wished desperately that I was sitting at the other (prosecution) table that day, worried that I, the person tasked with humanizing the person in the shackles sitting next to me, will fail to articulate any mitigating information because, to be honest, none really existed. I have fantasized about changing careers and entering a profession with less darkness on countless occasions.  I mean, with all of these emotional, ethical, and intellectual challenges, why do it?
I believe that we are all more than the worst things we have ever done. I believe that who we are at 20 is not and cannot be definitive of who we are at 40. I have had the opportunity to grow and change as I have aged, and I believe that everyone should have the chance to change. I also believe that cross-examination, the right of confrontation, the exclusionary rule, the presumption of innocence, and the adversarial system are all vital, necessary parts of the rule of law. To facilitate these things, defense attorneys must exist. Period. There must be balances and checks, and there must be a group of us who are willing to search for the good in a person who has committed terrible, criminal acts. Even if that means challenging police authority or an accuser’s credibility. Even when that’s uncomfortable. Especially when it is both relevant and uncomfortable. (We have tasked neutral judges as the gatekeepers of relevancy, and I would suggest that is a pretty good idea when considering the alternatives). If we abandon those principles because of the horrific nature of certain crimes, that abandonment dilutes and threatens all of our liberty. Because there are different perspectives, and different “truths”, and advocating the version of truth held by both the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator is fundamental in any attempt to administer justice.
I also believe that while juries can–and do–get it “wrong” sometimes, that the jury verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt holds significant weight and should not be easily discarded. With zealous advocacy on both sides and a belief in the structure of it criminal justice system, the jury ought to speak the truth. Knowing that an accused person had competent representation is a comfort to me. It means (again, with due deference to the number of documented exceptions) that despite all of the rights we have chosen to protect and provide to the individual accused, despite the heavy burden of proof, members of our communities have determined after careful consideration that no reasonable room for hesitation exists in labeling the actions of the defendant as “criminal”—a label that does, and should, carry meaningful implications about (at a minimum) a person’s decision-making skills, and, at times, the overall evaluation of one’s character given one’s ability (or lack thereof) to confirm one’s conduct to the often basic rules we have endorsed as a society. Consistent with these beliefs, I rely upon on the jury verdict in the Stanford Swimmer Sexual Assault Case and trust that there was a fair consideration of the facts. I am comfortable drawing the conclusion that the defendant is, in fact and by law, guilty of sexual assaulting the young woman who provided the powerful victim impact statement many of us have read in recent days. I say that without caveat. I’m unimpressed by the suggestion that alcohol was the primary factor in his decision-making on that night because, as many have observed, only a small percentage of those who consume alcohol (even to excess) commit sexual assaults. I also know of no little girl, anywhere, that dreams of being digitally penetrated by a stranger behind a dumpster when she grows up.
So, now that he’s guilty, what does society do with him, exactly? Admittedly, I am a vocal and aggressive opponent of the prison system for the very simple reason that, statistically speaking, prison is unsuccessful in preventing future criminal behavior. Any rudimentary review of statistics demonstrate that nation-wide, our recidivism rate is abysmal. I also reject arguments of general deterrence (again, statistical data just doesn’t support this as effective). As a pragmatist and a fiscal conservative, I also see little to no value in punishment for retributive purposes because again, the data suggests that this is an extraordinary expensive indulgence towards retributive instincts, and for me, the law is intended to regulate some of our natural tendencies towards vengeance. I do, however, agree that there are people who are simply so dangerous that separation from the general population is necessary to protect the public at large. If someone is one of those people, the question for me then becomes how long of a separation is necessary to ensure that the criminal behavior will not be repeated.
Our incarceration system is seriously lacking when it comes to providing people tools to modify their behaviors. This is painfully and particularly true when it comes to sexual offending. Research suggests that denial of culpability is present a majority of cases of sexual offending.  In my state, the entire first phase of treatment for sex offenders is addressing the nearly ubiquitous minimization or refutation of the criminal behavior. (I would suggest that this is, upon reflection, not a startling fact. Just as I know of no little girl who dreams of being sexually assaulted, no little boy–absent serious indications of sadism and/or psychopathy–dreams of growing up to be sexually predatory).  Very few offenders, even when able to admit the reality of the horror of the assaults they have perpetrated, are able to set aside the very natural inclination towards self-preservation and acknowledge that incarceration, along with education and treatment, may be necessary to prevent them from engaging in criminal behavior. No one wants to go to prison. This seems to be a pretty basic reality.
I would suggest that we cannot say with any confidence that the terrible, criminal decisions of a man at 20 years old are definitively predictive of his behavior at 40 years old. That said, I do believe that a demonstrable lack of empathy, a seizing of criminal “opportunity”, and the engagement in acts of violence (and I unequivocally believe sexual assault to be an act of violence) offers insight into character and the need to protect the public.  Most people are never convicted of crimes, let alone violent ones. Knowing that a person is capable of crossing that line is absolutely relevant in evaluating who they are, but it is not, and should not, be definitive. Some people are comfortable with the assertion that “20 minutes” of criminal behavior is sufficient to determine the entirety of someone’s character. I reject that assertion as vehemently as I reject the draconian would-be curse  that would damn me, a person in my 30s, to forever live as the choices I made at 19. I have grown up. Out scientifically, my frontal lobe has fully developed. Described more emotionally, I’ve experienced things both joyful  and painful, and those experiences have altered my perspective and my actions. I’ve hurt people in ways that I would never repeat, even if that hurt is not criminalized.  I’ve read books and learned things and won and lost arguments. I’m different now. With every passing year, I will continue to be.
I would suggest that a life sentence is rarely appropriate, and is not appropriate in the Stanford case for the reasons I have espoused here. (If the reader here holds that belief when confronted with serious criminal activity, “locking up and throwing away the key” while rooting for the person to be sexually assaulted and treated as a creature less than human, I realize this essay isn’t speaking to you, and I’m impressed you made it this far). To the people that suggest the victim will be forever altered by the perpetrator’s criminal behavior–that may be true. It may not. People have varying capacities for healing. I advocate for the idea that this victim (and every victim) is entitled to outrage, grief, and any number of other emotions. That said, a victim/survivor should be afforded the courtesy of society not presuming that something that happened TO her rather than BECAUSE OF HER will function to determine her identity.  I would also advocate that anything, *any thing*, that happens BECAUSE of her should not eclipse the remaining parts of her character. Our experiences undeniably shape us. That is different than defining us.
If any of this persuades a reader that life sentences shouldn’t be handed out or that punishment for punishment’s sake isn’t the answer, then I’d urge everyone to put away the pitchforks, metaphorically and literally. Do not fall into the ineffectual but natural trap of vengeance. In the Stanford case, the defendant has a built-in safeguard to put the public on notice of the potential recidivism risk–he is now a registered sex offender. The intention of the registry, however flawed the implementation will be, is not punitive; it is intended to inform (and therefore protect) the public. Instead of calling for a more lengthy sentence, advocate for education and rehabilitation because that is what will actually prevent criminal activity in the future . That’s true in this defendant, and for many others. Treat the empathy deficit that is so obviously present. Allow for biological advancement as the frontal lobe of the offender develops. Give the offender the opportunity to ultimately reintegrate into society because there is virtually nothing in the field of social science that suggests that those marginalized with limited housing and employment opportunities perform better or less criminally than pro-social individuals. Nothing about rehabilitating an offender (and thus protecting the public from future infractions) is mutually exclusive with supporting a victim and allowing her space to define her future and to heal.
While everyone works on that, if we could stop making assumptions about my beliefs because of my job, that’d be nice, too.

In this economy, most of us are on the lookout for a good deal.  Websites like Craigslist are a go-to for a lot of people when they need something–furniture, electronics, used cars–and don’t want to purchase these items from a retailer.  These websites put sellers directly in touch with individuals, which usually means that you can purchase an item cheaper than you could in a retail store.  However, whether it is from a website, or the proverbial “guy”, there is such a thing as too good of a deal, and that can have consequences.

Possession of Stolen Property

Have you ever wanted something that you just couldn’t afford?  Maybe it was the new IPad, but you just couldn’t swing it.  All of a sudden you get the offer of a lifetime, that $800 IPad could be yours for just $200!  The person selling it might not say why it is so cheap, or they give a quick story about having gotten two as a gift, and even though you know that it sounds too good to be true… Well, why not, it’s not like your doing anything wrong is it? Unfortunately for a number of people, the answer is yes, you are.

Most people know that if you take something that doesn’t belong to you, you are committing a crime: theft.  And plenty of people steal just for themselves.  However, especially with the increase in the heroin epidemic, more and more people are stealing things for the purpose of selling them to others.  An individual who purchases stolen property may not condone the theft, but figures that since they didn’t steal anything, that they aren’t to blame. This is not true, and can lead to you being charged with the crime of Possession of Stolen Property. Depending on the value of the item(s), this can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

Protect Yourself

Sometimes deals can be too good to be true, and other times people really are in need of money quickly are doing whatever they can to raise it.  The good news is, if you were one of the unlucky individuals to buy something that was stolen, you do have a legal defense.  To be convicted of Possession of Stolen Property, the State must prove three things.  First, that the item in questions was actually stolen.  Two, that the defendant bought/received/took possession of said item.  And finally, that the defendant knew that the item was stolen.  In cases like these, the third element is typically the most important. When purchasing something from someone online, for example from Craigslist, e-mail communication with the seller can be helpful in demonstrating that you believed the individual to be the lawful owner of the item.  For bigger ticket items, such as cars, ATVs, scooters, ask to see proof of ownership, and fill out the proper paperwork to change the title. In addition, paying a price similar to it’s actual value can also be a mitigating circumstance. It is more difficult to convince a prosecutor or a jury that you honestly believed you were buying a brand new $1,000 TV still in the box for $100, and that you didn’t think there was anything shady going on.

Some items, like power tools and electronics, are more likely to be stolen for quick resale.  Before purchasing any of these items, ask yourself if the deal seems suspicious, or if it seems too good to be true.  You may occasionally miss out on a great deal, but you will also not run the risk of being charged with a crime.  If you or someone you know is currently being investigated or charged in relation to theft, or possession of stolen property, call our office for a free consultation, and let us see what we can do for you.

Cheaters Beware?

nickgansner —  October 14, 2015 — Leave a comment

Infidelity is always a touchy subject.  Often times when a client brings up the issue of cheating, it is in reference to a divorce action.  However we have also had at least one call about it in reference to its criminal penalties.  Did you know that in the state of Wisconsin adultery is not only a crime, but it is actually a felony?

It’s true.  Now, this is an antiquated statue, and to our knowledge the last time it was even charged was in the 1990’s.  And to be fair, that case was eventually thrown out when it was determined that the prosecutor had filed the charges for personal and malicious reasons.  For all intents and purposes, while it may not be a nice to cheat on your spouse, it is not something that is going to result in criminal charges.

Cheating & Divorce

Two frequent calls our office receives go something like this: “ S/He was having an affair! I want to take everything!” & “My wife/husband, is telling me I’m never going to see my kids again because I cheated on her/him.”  Our office tells each caller the same thing: infidelity will generally have no effect on your divorce proceedings, the outcome of financial or property divisions, or the amount of placement time with children.

Infidelity can have various moral and ethical implications, but rarely effects the outcome of a divorce.  However, as with most things, there are some exceptions to this rule.  If an individual has spent an extremely large amount of money on an affair, it could possibly be deemed martial waste.  Martial waste is limited in its scope however, and typically the time frame for consideration is around one year.

Placement time is less likely to be affected by infidelity during a divorce. The fact that someone stepped outside of his/her marriage, in the eyes of the law, has no bearing on their ability to be a parent.  When determining placement time, the court is generally going to look at who was the primary caretaker, if an individual wants placement time, and the ability to care for the child.

The final line of questioning that we often are asked about in regards to infidelity is preventing the soon-to-be-ex-spouse from brining the person they cheated with around the children.  In general, the court is not likely to forbid that they can ever meet or be around the children forever.  However, there are methods to prevent individuals from introducing significant others to their children on certain time limits, or in specific contexts.

Questions?

Separations and divorces are never easy, especially when there have been infidelities.  If you are thinking about initiating a divorce action, or are currently in the midst of a divorce, call our office for a free consultation, and we can help you figure out your options, and work on how to get you the best results.

When a crime is being prosecuted, there inevitably are witnesses involved.  This may include people involved in a crime, or who witnessed certain actions, and in some cases this people who were involved in other aspects such as a doctor who treated injuries, or a police officer who helped investigate aspects of the case. Despite the dramatic depiction of people storming into a courtroom, witnesses only appear at trial or at evidentiary hearings.  Each side is required to disclose its witnesses prior to trial, giving the prosecution and the defense the opportunity to prepare for what witnesses may or may not say when taking the witness stand.

As a Wisconsin criminal defense trial firm, one of the things that we closely analyze in each case is the credibility of each potential witness.  We analyze credibility from a variety of perspectives, including a witness’s relationship to the case, possible motives, appearance, and the way that an individual may testify.  For example, say that there is a fight between two individuals, and the only witness to this altercation is the defendant’s brother.  The brother is an obvious witness, and at a trial would almost certainly testify.  The prosecution would likely try to undermine (or “impeach” in legal parlance) the credibility of this witness, implying that the brother would be likely to lie, or embellish certain facts, because he would have an inherent interest in helping his brother.  Conversely, the defense would work with the witness to make sure the brother could articulate his recollection of events in a manner that did not seem biased against the alleged victim, or overly defensive of his brother.

Character Evidence

A term that gets thrown around a lot on television and in movies is “character evidence”.  On the screen a lawyer, just as likely to be the prosecutor as a defense attorney, starts a barrage of questions about a person’s life, usually detailing aspects of his or her life, from bad relationships to if they ever kicked a puppy.  The end result of this questioning is to make the witness seem completely unreliable and secure a quick trial victory.  In reality, this rarely happens, and even then, the scope of questions is limited.  Character evidence is not limited to non-party witnesses, but also can apply to the defendant as well, if he or she decides to testify.

So what types of questions are typically permitted in questioning a witness?  In general, questions that relate directly to the case at hand, but this has exceptions as well.  For example, questions regarding an alleged victim’s sexual history in a sexual assault case are off limits, unless the defense attorney files a specific type of motion prior to the trial.  Criminal histories are another area that are frequently asked about.  Is someone’s criminal history fair game for questioning?  The answer is maybe, and often only to a certain point.  One determining factor is how long ago the person was convicted of a crime.  In general, convictions less than ten years old are more likely to be admissible.  And, generally speaking, the fact that the person has been convicted of some number of crimes is typically admissible, while the substance, or facts, of those crimes are typically not.  Crimes involving dishonesty (like theft or fraud) are more likely to be relevant to a witness’s credibility than something like an Operating While Under the Influence of an Intoxicant.  One thing to remember is that the witness is not on trial: unless an attorney can prove how something is directly relevant, it is unlikely that a judge would permit excessive and detailed questioning of a witness about his or her past.

Witnesses at Trial

When it comes down to it, proper witness preparation is a huge factor at trial.  Most people do not have frequent interactions with the criminal justice system, and testifying can often be an intimidating and nerve-racking experience. A good defense attorney will want to have direct and cross examinations thoroughly prepared prior to the trial, and to have spoken with and prepared important witnesses prior to trial. This allows an attorney to explain what to expect and to go over what may or may not be allowed to be discussed in court.

At Nicholson & Gansner we pride ourselves in our aggressive trial style, and in our detailed trial preparations.  This type of dedication has lead our office to receive awards for our trial skills, including a Hanson Award (an award for a straight acquittal in a homicide trial), as well as make history in Wisconsin by receiving the only not guilty by reason of insanity or mental defect in a double first degree intentional homicide case.  If you or a loved one is currently facing criminal charges in Wisconsin and a criminal trial, contact the history making, precedent setting Wisconsin criminal defense trial attorneys at Nicholson & Gansner.

Credibility of a Victim In A Sexual Assault Case

Our law firm, Nicholson & Gansner, has an emphasis in defending people in Wisconsin against criminal charges of sexual assault of all types, both against adults and children. On television and in the movies, these cases are always portrayed as clear cut situations, typically with ample amounts of forensic evidence. Real life, however, is quite different. Many cases of sexual assault involve delayed reporting or delayed disclosure, that is, the victim does not make any allegations of assault until sometime later (sometimes years later), when it would be impossible to collect any physical evidence. Many people incorrectly assume that an individual making claims of sexual assault would not be enough to have charges brought against them. This type of case is sometimes referred to as a “he said, she said” case, meaning that the case largely comes down to the credibility of the alleged victim and the defendant.

What is Fair Game

To determine the credibility of an individual either in our everyday lives or in court, we may depend on a variety of factors: the person’s age, occupation, potential motives to lie or tell the truth, past actions, and a host of other things. However if a sexual assault case is brought to trial, there are certain aspects of a person’s life that are not fair game. An example of this would be the victim’s sexual history, preference, or past accusations. The reason that our justice system prevents these topics from regular questioning in a criminal prosecution is, in part, a phenomenon sometimes colloquially referred to as “slut shaming”. Essentially, this is to prevent a victim from becoming the victim of prejudices from a stigma that is associated with actions. That is, the law and the court seeks to prevent a complaining witness (another term for victim) in a criminal prosecution of charges of sexual assault from being blamed or re-victimized for other or past conduct.  The law and the court hold that a complaining witness’s past sexual conduct is not legally relevant to a determination of a defendant’s guilty, or lack thereof, to specific criminal charges of sexual assault.  For example if the alleged victim is a prostitute, the prosecution might seek to keep this information out of trial (to exclude it from trial, to prevent the jury from hearing about it), arguing that it is not directly relevant to the criminal charge at issue. The argument would also be that any attempt to present evidence to the jury that the victim, or complaining witness, was a prostitute would be an effort to embarrass the victim, to shame her, and to distract the jury from its job of determining whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the criminal charge.  After all, a person may sell their body for money, but this does not mean that this person cannot be sexually assaulted.  Similarly, a person who frequently engages in sexual encounters with different partners can also be sexually assaulted.  The body of law that prevents an attorney from brining up these topics during a trial is referred to as Rape Shield.

The Exception to the Rule

Like most rules (certainly legal rules), there is an exception to Rape Shield.  Prior to a trial the defense might draft, submit, and possibly argue a motion to introduce evidence of past or other sexual activity.  If a defendant wishes to introduce evidence of other sexual activity (meaning other than the sexual conduct that forms the allegations and basis for the criminal charge) in a sexual assault case, the defense is required by law to file a motion asking the court for permission to do so.  In this motion the defense would outline their reasoning as to why evidence about things such as the alleged victim’s sexual history, or actions, is directly relevant to the case at hand.  In some cases these motions will be granted outright, in some they will be denied, and in some a judge will outline what areas, and sometimes even specific questions, that would be allowed, or deemed off limits.

Defendant’s Bias

Aside from Rape Shield questions, another frequent problem is a defendant’s bias.  When accused of a crime, especially one that he or she is innocent of, a Defendant is sure of their case and how it will be viewed.  This is because the defendant was actually there in the moment and saw the events unfold.  In certain circumstances, situations may be difficult to believe, or inconsequential inconsistencies seem very important, and this is where the defendant’s bias comes into play. Knowing one’s own character, tone, etc. a defendant may be overconfident, or incorrectly assume how a jury may interpret certain facts. In some cases this may spring from overconfidence, or hope, and in others, it is simply an ignorance of how the criminal justice system works. While there are certainly cases in which the facts of the case are exactly the way that it seems, more often than not, the intricacies of a case can be viewed in a more than one way. This is especially true if you, a family member, or a close friend, are accused of a crime.

Consulting a Lawyer

Most people never have to come into contact with the criminal justice system, and that is a good thing. What that does mean, however, is that most people are unfamiliar with criminal procedure, and how different facts are collected and viewed. For this reason, you must consult with a law office to fully understand your position, your options, and the risks you face. If you or someone you know is being investigated for sexual assault or is facing criminal sexual assault charges in Wisconsin, call the highly experienced Wisconsin sexual assault and criminal defense attorneys at Nicholson & Gansner.

Our office has received many questions in regards to carrying a concealed weapon, specifically a firearm. In this blog post we will attempt to go over the basics of the concealed carry law in Wisconsin.

Who Can Carry Concealed?

It is legal for some people to carry a concealed weapon, due to the State of Wisconsin passing Act 35 in 2011. It is equally important to point out that not everyone is legally able to carry a concealed weapon. To become eligible to carry a concealed weapon, you must fill out, submit, and receive your concealed carry license from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Applications are available on the DOJ’s website, where they can be printed off for free. Approval of the application can take several weeks, and you are not eligible to carry a concealed weapon until you have been approved to do so and receive your license.

What is a Concealed Weapon?

When people hear the term concealed weapon, the most frequent image that is conjured up is a handgun.  But what does concealed weapon actually mean? This can be answered in two parts. A concealed weapon is not limited to a firearm.  The term, as well as a concealed carry permit, also applies to a knife, stun gun, or asp. The term concealed is also an important factor. Concealed does not necessarily mean completely hidden from view, such as a handgun in an inner pants holster, but it can also mean partly hidden from view. Some examples of this would be a firearm in a holster that is partly covered by a shirt or a jacket, or a knife that is clipped to the inside of a pocket. While these items may be partly in view, depending on the situation, these could be considered a concealed weapon. If you are unsure of the definition, it is better to error on the side of caution until you can find out the answer.

Concealed Carry Everywhere?

After receiving a concealed carry permit, you are responsible for knowing when and where you are able to carry concealed. A permit does not entail you to carry a concealed weapon everywhere or in every situation. For example, you are not able to carry concealed in government buildings, schools, city transportation, or establishments that have “no weapons permitted” signs posted. In addition to this, you are not able to carry a firearm concealed, or otherwise, if you are under the influence of intoxicants.

If you have questions about carrying concealed, or are facing charges in regards to carrying a concealed weapon, call the Wisconsin criminal defense and trial lawyers at Nicholson & Gansner.