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Milwaukee, Wisconsin Criminal Defense Legal FAQs

Criminal Attorneys Answer Questions About Criminal Cases, Trials and Plea Deals in Waukesha County

What are my rights if I am arrested?

In most cases, police officers are required to notify suspects of their Miranda rights at the time of arrest or when taking a suspect into custody for interrogation. These include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Any statements you make before being informed of these rights are likely inadmissible in court. You also have constitutional protection from unlawful search and seizure of your property if the police do not have a warrant, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion.

How much does a criminal defense attorney cost?

The cost of a criminal attorney depends on many factors, including the attorney's reputation and experience, whether they charge an hourly or flat rate, and the severity of the crime you have been arrested for. Hourly rates are often at least $100, and the total cost of a trial can be thousands of dollars. If you are unable to afford a lawyer, the court may appoint a public defender to take your case at no cost to you.

Will I remain in custody pending trial?

Whether you must remain in custody between your arrest and trial depends on many factors. In Wisconsin, some defendants may have bail imposed as a signature bond that must be paid only if they fail to appear for their court dates, or a cash bond that must be paid before release by the defendant or another person on their behalf, and which can be returned in part if the defendant makes all required court appearances. In federal court, the prosecutor may request a detention hearing for serious or violent crimes, arguing that the defendant should be held without bail. If you are facing a detention hearing, your attorney can help you argue your case for conditional release before the trial.

Am I facing state or federal charges?

Whether you will be tried in state or federal court depends on the nature of the crime for which you were arrested. Crimes under Wisconsin jurisdiction include arson, battery, disorderly conduct, drunk and impaired driving, property crimes, drug possession and distribution, homicide and manslaughter, and some kinds of fraud. Crimes under federal jurisdiction include tax evasion, political fraud, obstruction of justice, federal drug crimes, possession of illegal weapons, and computer crimes, among others.

What is a plea deal?

In a criminal case, the defense and prosecution can reach a plea bargain agreement at any time in the process, including before the case goes to trial. In a plea deal, the defendant enters a plea of guilty or no contest in exchange for a reduction in charges or sentencing. The court must then accept the plea agreement. Pleading no contest may be the right decision if you are also facing a civil lawsuit because it does not constitute an admission of fault. Your attorney can advise you as to whether a plea bargain is the best option for you.

Can I face both a criminal and civil trial?

You may find yourself as the defendant in both a criminal and civil case if, in addition to being accused of breaking a state or federal criminal law, your actions also resulted in accusations of damages caused to another civilian party. For example, driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense, but if a drunk driver causes an accident that injured another person, the injury case will be handled through civil litigation.

What happens in a criminal trial?

If your case goes to trial, one of the first steps is a process called voir dire, in which potential jurors are questioned and eliminated due to conflict of interest or bias until the jury is finalized. When the trial begins, the defense and prosecution will each present opening arguments, followed by the presentation of evidence and the calling and questioning of witnesses. This process can last several days or weeks. At the end of the trial, each side will present closing arguments, and the judge will direct the jury to deliberate and arrive at a verdict. Based on the jury's verdict, the judge will dismiss the matter, issue a sentence, or possibly call a mistrial if the jury cannot reach consensus.

What penalties will I face for a first-time offense?

While first-time offenders for certain crimes are often treated with some degree of lenience, the penalties you will face depend in large part on the type and number of crimes for which you are found guilty, whether they are misdemeanors or felonies, and whether there are any aggravating or mitigating factors. In many cases, an experienced criminal defense attorney can negotiate for lower charges or sentences for a first-time offender through a plea deal, especially if the defendant has no criminal history and displays remorse for the criminal actions.

Can an attorney help after I am sentenced?

If you believe you have been wrongfully convicted, you and your attorney can attempt to file a post-trial motion for acquittal or a new trial, or appeal to a higher court for a reversal or adjustment to your sentence. While serving your sentence, an attorney may also be able to help you seek a reduction or modification of your remaining sentence.

Contact a Milwaukee Criminal Defense Attorney

At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our experienced team of criminal defense lawyers can represent you in a wide range of criminal cases and assist you with guidance specific to your situation. Contact us at 414-271-1440 for a consultation and to start building your defense. We serve clients throughout Wisconsin including but not limited to Milwaukee, Waukesha, Green Bay, Appleton, and Wauwatosa.

Attorneys on our Criminal Defense Team:

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