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Milwaukee criminal defense law firmMilwaukee, WI criminal defense attorneyBy Attorney Cameron G. Weitzner and Paralegal Rachel A. Sweet

Getting arrested or charged with a crime can be extremely frightening and stressful, and it may feel like you have nowhere to turn for help and support. However, thanks to the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, there is always at least one person whom you can rely on: your attorney. Among other rights, the Sixth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant the right to “the assistance of counsel for his defense.” If you are facing charges, you should be sure to understand the full extent of the protection that this clause provides.

What Does the Right to Legal Counsel Include?

The Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel means that in a trial or court hearing related to the charges you are facing, you have the right to representation from a qualified defense attorney. Your attorney can take many important actions to protect your rights and help you avoid conviction or an unfair sentence. For example, they can speak on your behalf in opening and closing arguments, help you present evidence and testimony to demonstrate your innocence, cross-examine witnesses for the prosecution, and object to inadmissible evidence and improper trial procedure.

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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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Milwaukee, WI pardon application lawyerBy Attorney Brianna Meyer

One of recently elected Governor Evers’ campaign promises was to address pardons in the state of Wisconsin. A pardon is similar to an expungement in that it grants a second chance to individuals who have been convicted of a crime. Having a record expunged removes the offense completely from a person’s criminal record. Pardons do not have this same power, but they do give back some of the rights that are taken away from citizens after receiving a criminal conviction. If granted a pardon, an individual can once again own a gun, vote, be on a jury, hold public office, and hold various licenses that they were not eligible for as a convicted felon. While an offense may still appear in background checks, having it pardoned can help a person put a better foot forward when seeking employment opportunities.

Governor Evers recently recreated the nine-member Pardon Advisory Board to address the thousands of pardon requests that have not been attended to. Before Evers came into office, Governor Scott Walker put the pardon process to a stop in 2011. According to The Washington Post, the Governor Evers’ office has already received requests from 1,600 individuals regarding pardons.

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Milwaukee expungement attorneyBy Brianna Meyer and Raymond Dall'Osto

Expungement is a powerful tool to help provide a second chance for those convicted of criminal charges. For that reason, it is highly sought by many who wish to clear their criminal records. The Wisconsin Legislature has before it and is currently considering a bill that would make more people eligible to have their records expunged and provide some necessary reforms to overcome obstacles to expungement that have been imposed by a series of court of appeals decisions over the past several years. 

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is the removal of certain criminal convictions or juvenile court records from official state records, which include the official court record, possibly the state’s online court record system (CCAP), and the arrest records kept by the Dept. of Justice Crime Information Bureau in Madison.  Under Wisconsin law, to expunge is “to strike or obliterate from the record all references to the defendant’s name and identity.”  Expungement of a criminal record allows someone arrested on criminal charges or convicted of a crime to have a clean start with regard to that case.  

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Wisconsin Supreme Court appeals lawyerThe highest court in the state, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, will soon get a new justice following the April 2 election. The election is for the seat currently held by Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

Justice Abrahamson decided not to run for re-election. After the primaries, two judges emerged as the candidates in the general election: Appeals Judge Brian Hagedorn and Appeals Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer. The winning candidate will clinch a 10-year term on the high court.

The Composition of the Wisconsin Supreme Court

While the Wisconsin Supreme Court is not political, some justices are considered conservative and some are considered liberal by court watchers. This election could change the makeup of the court, which would have far-reaching consequences.

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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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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, criminal justice systemThrough each stage of the criminal justice system you have rights that must be protected. The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution grant you many rights, including the right to an attorney in most stages of criminal proceedings. These rights ensure that your trial is fair and that you do not unjustly get sent to prison. However, some of your rights, including the right to an attorney, can be waived.

Each year numerous people are arrested in the United States and are charged with drug violations. To be sure, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2007, estimated that 14 million individuals were arrested across the United States, and approximately 1,800,000 of those individuals were arrested for drug violations. In Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, approximately 340,000 individuals were arrested in 2012, and an estimated 27,000 of those arrests were related to drugs.

Miranda Rights

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, criminal justice systemIn many murder or homicide cases, defendants argue the case of mistaken identity—the prosecution charged the wrong person for the wrongful death of another. When you are facing murder charges for a crime that you did not commit, an alibi defense could be the key to dismissing the charges against you. The alibi defense is based on the underlying premise that you are truly innocent of the charges or any wrongdoing.

In traditional murder cases without an alibi defense, your defense attorney would argue that the prosecution failed to prove that you were guilty of the crime, beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden is on the prosecution to prove every element of the crime. However, when you raise the alibi defense, you have to persuade the judge or jury that the prosecution is charging the wrong person. The alibi defense rests on the credibility of your alibi witness.

If you believe you were wrongly charged with murder, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to evaluate your case and determine if the alibi defense would be the best way to challenge the prosecution’s case.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, warrantless searchesLegal disputes over the admissibility of evidence seem like they have the potential to be quite dry, but in reality they can make all the difference in the outcome of a case. For instance, if a person is charged with possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution will have a difficult time proving their case if the judge prevents them from actually introducing the drugs to the jury. In the criminal context, one of the most important rules related to the admissibility of evidence comes from the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from “unreasonable” searches. Importantly, if a police officer finds evidence as a result of a search that the court considers unreasonable, then the prosecutor cannot use that evidence in the trial as a punishment for violating the defendant's rights. Police and Warrants The general rule about whether a search is reasonable is whether it was executed pursuant to a valid warrant. Warrants are legal documents that empower the police to perform a search. The police get warrants by going before the judge, and presenting evidence that there is probable cause to believe that a search will turn up further evidence of criminal activity. The mere existence of a warrant does not make all searches valid. For instance, warrants are limited to searching specific premises for specific items. If the police exceed the boundaries of the warrant, then the search may be deemed unreasonable. Similarly, warrants are only good for a limited amount of time. Police are not allowed to seek warrants and then store them indefinitely to use as needed. Searches executed under an outdated warrant may also be considered unreasonable. Exceptions to the Warrant Rule Importantly, the rule that police need a warrant to perform a search is subject to a variety of exceptions. One of the most important exceptions is for vehicles. It would be impractical to always force police to seek a warrant during a traffic stop, so the law allows police to use their own judgment. If the police believe that there is probable cause to perform a search, then they may search a vehicle over the driver's objections. However, if that search turns up evidence of a crime, the judge at trial will have to determine whether the officer actually had probable cause. Another important exception to the warrant rule is one of consent. Police officers are allowed to ask for permission to perform searches of people or their property. People are under no obligation to consent to these searches, but if they do consent, they lose the authority to later contest the reasonableness of the search. The law provides a variety of protections to ensure that people accused of crimes do not have their rights violated. If you are facing criminal charges, and want to learn more about these protections, contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer today.

 

Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyer, operating under the influenceThe state of Wisconsin is pursuing a new method of curbing repeat offenses for drunk driving. State officials are going to begin testing people with repeat OWI convictions for “alcohol biomarkers.” These are residual molecules that can show the history of a person's drinking. The idea is to use these biomarkers to attempt to identify people who are at a higher risk for continuing to drive drunk. Some research from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee already suggests that these sorts of tests, combined with computer analytics, can help predict people's drunk driving tendencies.

What Alcohol Biomarker Testing Is

Alcohol biomarkers are a new type of test designed to determine a person's long-term drinking history. Ordinary alcohol tests check for the presence of alcohol in the blood, but alcohol only lasts in the blood for a matter of hours before it is gone. This makes it impossible to learn about a person's alcohol intake by directly testing for alcohol. However, alcohol does not simply vanish from the blood. Instead, it is metabolized. This means that the body converts the molecules of alcohol into other molecules. These molecules last much longer in the body, finding their way into the drinker's fingernails, which a chemist can then examine.

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