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Milwaukee, WI criminal defense attorney for intoxicationBy Attorney Ray Dall’Osto

The intoxicating effects of alcohol and controlled substances (prescription and illegal) have been demonstrated to lower a person’s inhibitions, alter behavior, and impair a person’s mental and physical abilities, including the ability to operate motor vehicles steadily and safely.  Unfortunately, alcohol and substance use sometimes lead to situations where a person is arrested on criminal charges.  For example, in State v. Christen, 2021 WI 39, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment does not protect an intoxicated person's right to possession of a firearm for self-defense, in a drunken altercation with roommates inside defendant’s residence). 

If you have been arrested while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may wonder whether your state of intoxication could be a mitigating factor or perhaps even be raised as a defense that might help avoid a conviction. At first glance, it seems reasonable that the effects of a substance on a person’s mental state would impact on specific intent and possibly absolve you of personal responsibility for your actions. However, in Wisconsin, this is only true under limited circumstances, because the legislature and courts have determined that the intoxication defense should be greatly limited on public policy grounds. Thus, it is important that you work with an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to determine whether such a defense may apply in your case.

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Milwaukee criminal defense law firmMilwaukee, WI criminal defense attorney for protecting your rightsBy Attorney Cameron Weitzner and Paralegal Rachel Sweet

Among other things, the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights provides several protections for those who are facing a criminal arrest or trial. However, in the heat of the moment, it may be hard to know whether your rights are being honored and to ensure that you are taking full advantage of them. Taking the time to learn about your constitutional rights and how to assert them can often help you avoid an arrest or conviction in the event that you have a run-in with law enforcement.

Fourth Amendment Protections from Unreasonable Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment protects your person, house, papers, and effects from search and seizure without a warrant or probable cause, and it also states that a warrant must be specific with regard to the property to be searched and the potential items to be seized. There are a few circumstances in which law enforcement is permitted to perform a search without a warrant in Wisconsin, but if an officer attempts to search you or your property, you should always ask to see a warrant first, and you should clearly state that you do not consent to a search without a warrant. If an officer proceeds without a warrant, with an invalid warrant, or in a way that exceeds the scope of the warrant, your attorney can help you challenge the validity of the evidence obtained.

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Textalyzer, Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys, constitutional rights, DUI, distracted driversBy James Lewis

The dangers associated with texting and driving have prompted some states to take direct action to combat the issue. With the aid of Cellebrite, a technology company, police departments may soon be able to use a handheld device to determine whether a person has been using his or her cell phone while driving a car. Named after the breathalyzer device used to detect alcohol present in a driver’s blood, the “textalyzer” analyzes cellphone data and allows an officer to see when drivers last used their cell phone.

The “textalyzer” is plugged into a driver’s phone and allows officers to see if the driver was interacting with the phone while driving. The company behind the device, Cellebrite, claims that the “textalyzer” collects minimal data from a driver’s cellphone. For example, the “textalyzer” could tell an officer that a driver had sent a text message at 1:56 p.m., but the device would not tell the officer the content of that message. While this advance in road safety technology may aid officers in catching distracted drivers, the technology could infringe on privacy rights and violate the constitution.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Miranda warningSince the airing of the 10-episode Netflix documentary, “Making a Murderer” began in January 2016, the cases of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey have drawn a considerable amount of attention from the public and the media around the United States. Many are both surprised and outraged by the details of Avery’s original wrongful conviction, and some believe there may be evidence that Avery was again wrongfully accused and convicted of a horrendous crime. Although less discussed, Mr. Dassey’s related case has also drawn scrutiny from the public, particularly for the way he was interrogated by police. But what many people may not realize is that these practices – lying, baiting, suggestibility and trickery - are actually quite common during police interrogations. Moreover, courts often give their approval or a wink-wink to these kinds of tactics, deeming the confessions obtained through deception admissible as evidence. Deception and Trickery During Interrogation Can Be Permissible Practices such as strategic deception (lying to push for a confession or information), trickery, baiting (telling suspects they have evidence they do not have), “good cop, bad cop” routines, suggesting that there is forensic evidence or another person’s confession that clearly implicates the suspect undergoing questioning, along with other forms of deception are not only permitted during police interrogations, they are often considered “harmless error” even if it leads to a confession that seals the prosecution’s case.  Atty. Ray Dall’Osto provided further comment on the import of this for Mr. Dassey’s case in a January 2016 newspaper interview, which can be found at this link. Of course, there have been times that law enforcement officers’ tactics in obtaining confessions have been held to have gone too far, but the instances are rare. This is due, in part, to the murky line between coercion and “acceptable” deception. There is no bright line rule that says how far is “too far.”  That is why it is essential to have experienced criminal defense counsel who can effectively challenge the admissibility of confessions and suppress them as evidence. Did Investigators Go Too Far? If no hard line exists, it becomes the court’s discretion as to whether or not a suspect’s rights have been violated; and that can create a very slippery slope. Take, for example, Brendan Dassey’s interrogation which is addressed in the Netflix series.  Law enforcement officers are allowed to interrogate a minor without parental consent, but concerns exist about the ability of the minor, young person or person with special needs to understand and properly waive their important constitutional rights to remain silent and to an attorney. Mr. Dassey’s low IQ, the way police misled him in their questioning and the way he seemed to be guessing at the answers calls the reliability of the interrogation into question.  Yet that evidence (which was the chief piece of evidence to actually tie Dassey to the murder) was found admissible.  In light of the Netflix series, there has arisen a public concern that this should not have been and that, at the very least, Mr. Dassey deserves a new trial. Causes of Wrongful Convictions The National Innocence Project has put together the chart below on the principle contributing causes of wrongful convictions, based on actual cases handled and exoneratons obtained.

chart

Know Your Rights If the Avery and Dassey cases teach anything, it should be that suspects should not speak to law enforcement and government investigators if they are the subject of criminal activity.  If you or people you know are faced with this situation, you should assert your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and your Sixth Amendment right to an attorney.  No talking until and unless you have consulted with an experienced criminal defense lawyer first. There are many criminal experienced defense attorneys who can help you at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP. Our attorneys have more than 40 years of experience representing individuals and businesses being investigated and suspected of state and federal crimes and in regulatory investigations.  Don’t try to go it alone and do it yourself.  Anything you say can and will be used against you.  Contact us at 414-271-1440 today if you are confronted with law enforcement questioning, stops, search warrants and criminal charges. Sources:
/images/dassy-interrogation-tactics-jan-2016.pdf /images/fighting-third-degree.pdf http://innocenceproject.org/causes-wrongful-conviction

Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyer, criminal justice systemForensic science has made great strides over the past several decades, turning a variety of technological advances into techniques for solving crimes. Arguably, the most important of these advancements was the ability to analyze DNA evidence left at crime scenes. Now, police departments in Wisconsin are introducing a controversial new version of DNA testing, familial DNA testing. This form of testing allows law enforcement officials to identify family members of people who leave DNA at a crime scene in order to better track them down. However, this DNA testing technology also has its opponents; many people are raising concerns about how it invades people's privacy in order to apprehend their relatives.

What Familial DNA Testing Is

Familial DNA testing is a new technique for analyzing DNA that removes one of the major limitations on current DNA forensics. Ordinary DNA analysis only produces a record of what the DNA found at the crime scene looks like on a molecular level. This is not enough to tie it to any given person. Instead, it must be compared against records of other DNA runs. This means that in order to use DNA to solve a crime the police either must already have the offender's DNA on file, or they must take a sample from a suspect, which can limit the usefulness of DNA in actually tracking down suspects.

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