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Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer pardonsBy Ray Dall’Osto and Steve McGaver

Governor Scott Walker lost the November 6 gubernatorial election to Democrat Tony Evers. With the change in leadership in January 2019, hopefully there will come a change in priorities and policies in Wisconsin. One area that is expected to change is how pardons are handled. It is hoped that governor-elect Evers may reverse the current Walker policy of no pardons and no reviews and grant pardons to those he deems meritorious. 

Scott Walker was elected in 2010, and he has held office from 2011 through January 2019. He is the first governor in the State of Wisconsin’s history since 1848 to categorically refuse to exercise the state constitutional prerogative to consider or grant pardons or commutation, no matter how worthy a pardon applicant might be of getting such.

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I Was Arrested and Charged with a Crime: What Happens Next?

Milwaukee, WI criminal charges defense attorneyThe criminal justice system in Wisconsin is complex, and those facing criminal charges may struggle to understand the processes that will be followed, the legal requirements that must be met, and the steps that should be taken. If you are arrested and charged with a crime, you should be aware of how your case will move through the courts and the proper measures you should take to protect your rights and achieve a positive outcome.

The Wisconsin Criminal Process

A criminal case in the state of Wisconsin will typically follow these steps:

  1. Arrest - If law enforcement officers have probable cause to believe you have committed a crime, they can arrest you and take you into custody. When arrested, you will be informed of your Miranda Rights, which state that you have the right to remain silent and the right to be represented by an attorney. In most cases, it is best to ask to speak to an attorney before answering any questions that police officers ask following an arrest.
  2. Initial court appearance - In your first court appearance, you will receive a copy of the criminal complaint against you, and a bail amount will be set by a judge. If you pay this amount, you will be released while the case continues to move forward through the courts. In misdemeanor cases, you can enter a plea during the initial appearance; however, in felony cases, a preliminary hearing must first be held.
  3. Preliminary hearing - During this hearing, the prosecution will present evidence to demonstrate that there is probable cause to charge you with the crime. If the judge determines that there is no probable cause, the case may be dismissed. You can waive your right to a preliminary hearing if you wish to proceed directly to arraignment.
  4. Arraignment - At this hearing, the criminal charges against you will be formally presented and you can enter a plea. If you plead guilty or no contest, the case will proceed to sentencing. If you plead not guilty, then the case will go to trial.
  5. Pre-trial hearings - Hearings may be held prior to the beginning of the trial in which the prosecution or defense may ask the judge to make decisions about a variety of issues, such as what evidence can be presented or what types of arguments can be made. 
  6. Trial - A trial will be held before a jury and both sides will present evidence, call witnesses, and make arguments. The jury will reach a verdict, deciding whether you are guilty or not guilty of the charges.
  7. Sentencing hearing - If you are found guilty, the judge may decide on a sentence immediately. However, in some cases, a separate hearing will be held to determine what sentence should be imposed. This hearing may include statements from victims, evidence regarding issues such as mental health or drug treatment, or testimony about your character from family members or friends. 
  8. Appeal - If you are found guilty, and you believe errors were committed during the trial that led to an incorrect verdict or sentence, you may file an appeal, asking a higher court to overturn the verdict or order a new trial.

Contact a Milwaukee, WI Criminal Defense Attorney

Understanding the criminal justice system is essential for determining the best defense strategy that will help you reach a favorable outcome to your case. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP our Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers are highly experienced in a wide variety of criminal cases, and we can provide you with the guidance and advocacy you need when you are facing criminal charges. Contact us at 414-271-1440 to arrange a personalized consultation. 

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trace forensic evidence, reliable forensic testing, forensic evidence testing, invalid scientific tests, criminal justice systemBy Ray Dall’Osto

Several of my law firm colleagues and I, as well as others in the criminal defense bar in Wisconsin, regularly deal with DNA and other trace forensic evidence. The need for accurate and reliable forensic testing by law enforcement and state crime labs is critical, as our criminal clients’ lives and freedom is at stake. Testing methods, procedures and test results should be subject to independent peer review, common standards and certification. Just as important, forensic evidence testing and expert opinions about the results and what it means should be based on valid scientific and statistical principles, not outmoded theories, junk science or subjective statistics.

Until the Trump Administration, progress was being made towards improving the accuracy and reliability of forensic evidence. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences evaluated the state of forensic science and, shockingly, concluded that many of the forensic evidence techniques commonly used in court in criminal cases actually have no scientific validity, including hair and fiber comparison analysis, and the resulting expert opinions rendered about such.

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Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys, teen alcohol use, teen drug use, binge drinking, criminal justice systemby Jason Luczak and Steve McGaver

Alcohol and drug use by teenagers and young adults under age 21 is prevalent in Wisconsin. This conduct can have serious legal consequences, e.g., detectable levels while driving a motor vehicle; if arrested at a party that is raided; where firearms or fighting is involved; or controlled substances that are shared with a friend, who subsequently dies.

Recent Statistics on Alcohol and Drug Use

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyer, constitutional rightsThe law attempts to provide a variety of protections to people who have been accused of a crime. Before and during a trial, the Constitution conveys numerous rights that are designed to prevent abuses on the part of the criminal justice system. After the trial, a losing defendant is allowed to appeal their case to a higher court if they think the trial court made a mistake. Yet sometimes even with all these protections, courts still make mistakes. When that happens, people may be eligible for a writ of habeas corpus, also known as a habeas petition or simply the Great Writ.

Understanding the Writ

Habeas corpus is an old writ that has been around since the drafting of the Constitution, but is now codified in 28 U.S.C § 2254. The idea behind the writ is that it provides a check on the government, preventing someone from being held without good cause. Essentially, it lets people being held by the government go to court to argue that they are being held illegally.

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police seizure, illegal seizure of property, Wisconsin criminal defense lawyerWhile there are a variety of legitimate reasons for police to seize property associated with criminal activities, these sorts of seizure laws are ripe for abuse if not properly supervised. A disturbing nationwide trend of police improperly seizing property under “civil asset forfeiture” laws has recently been garnering a large amount of media attention. These laws allow police to seize a person's property on suspicion that it was involved in criminal activity, and then force the people to engage in an expensive fight to recover the property. In fact, there have even been multiple documented instances of Wisconsin police seizing money from people who were trying to use the cash to bail their loved ones out of prison.

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture is a legal mechanism that allows the police to seize assets that they have probable cause to believe were used in the commission of a crime. The concept of the law is somewhat unusual because it does not focus on the person who owns the property, but actually holds the property itself “guilty” for the criminal acts it was involved in. Although, there are some legal protections for innocent owners whose property is seized.

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