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By Attorney Brianna Meyer

In Wisconsin, refusing a breathalyzer test after being arrested for suspected drunk driving can result in the suspension of your driver’s license. However, what many people do not know is that a roadside blood alcohol content (BAC) test is voluntary. Due to the danger of license suspension, many people submit to a breathalyzer test and live with the results that come from it. However, breathalyzer tests are not always 100 percent accurate, and there are ways to challenge the results in Wisconsin courts.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyerThe majority of police officers are good and rational human beings. Nonetheless, police brutality, aggression, and confrontational behavior does exist. Knowing how to handle such situations should you ever experience one, is critical. In fact, in some situations, it could very well save your life. At the very least, an understanding of your Constitutional rights and thoughtful action can help reduce the risk of a wrongful arrest, wrongfully filed charges and wrongful conviction. The following explains further.

Understanding Your Risk

Anyone can experience police brutality or aggression. However, there are some groups who are at an increased risk. For example, African American males are three times more likely to be killed by an officer of the law than any other race. Further compounding this issue is that African-American men are far more likely to be stopped by a police officer than other racial groups. Whoever you are, it is critical that you understand how you can attempt to de-escalate a situation and protect your rights.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer

Over the last year, hate crimes have increased dramatically across the country. Hate crimes against African American and Muslim Americans have risen by over 50% and have reached their highest numbers since 2001. Hate crimes against Hispanics have increased almost 40% during the same time period.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports that in the month since the November 2016 election, it has documented 437 reports of hate-fueled intimidation and harassment through news reports, social media and direct submissions via the SPLC’s #ReportHate form. Most involved anti-immigrant, anti-black or anti-LGBT bigotry. The most frequent location was K-12 schools, followed by businesses and at universities.

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Wisconsin criminal attorney, Wisconsin drunk driving lawsGenerally, jail terms are reserved for Wisconsin’s repeat OWI offenders. However, there are circumstances under which even a first-time offender can face serious penalties. It is important to understand these circumstances. Moreover, it is essential that you understand how to protect yourself, should you come up against any one of these serious situations.

Multiple OWI Convictions

If you receive a second offense OWI within a ten-year period, you can face up to six months in jail. Each repeat offense can increase your penalties and, by the time you reach your fourth offense, you could face consequences for a Class H felony, including up to six years of imprisonment, suspension of your license for up to three years, mandatory Interlock Ignition Device (IID) for up to three years and fines of up to $20,000. Additional convictions can increase your penalties even further.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyerWhen defendants enter the criminal justice system, they are often surprised to find that little about the process lines up with what they have seen on television. Already worried about their future, and now confused, they become even more frightened because they simply do not know what to expect. To make matters worse, they get obscure answers when they inquire about their rights. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, the following information can help you understand what may happen next, and what your rights are during each step in the criminal process.

Initial Appearance

When you are charged with a crime, you will make your first appearance in court. Called your “initial appearance,” this is when the judge will explain your charges and the maximum penalty for a conviction. If you are currently in police custody, the judge may also set bail during this hearing. From there, the structure of your initial appearance depends upon the type of crime you are being charged with.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyerIf you ever watch popular crime and police shows on television or streaming internet, you would assume that forensic scientific evidence is irrefutable. The experts speak with certainty, and the test results and staggeringly high probabilities of correctness overwhelm, and suspects are convicted based upon this evidence so provided.

While this happens more often than not in real life, the American public would be surprised to learn that the science behind the supposedly definitive forensic opinion which seals the case on the TV show is not as clear-cut and certain. And sometimes, the scientific opinion is later called into question and is shown to be invalid. This is not all that uncommon, as many people in the criminal justice system have been wrongfully convicted of serious crimes. Based on little more than a hair, tool mark or fingerprint comparison, some have spent years of their lives behind bars. 

Mistaken Forensic Evidence Opinions Have Serious Consequences

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Wisconsin defense lawyer, Wisconsin criminal attorneyBased on 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 61.6% of Americans are White, 13.3% are Black or African American, and 17.6% are Hispanic or Latino. Yet, based upon those who face criminal charges and incarceration each year, one could easily assume that the country is predominantly comprised of African Americans and Hispanics.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 35% of state prisoners are White, 38% are Black, and 21% are Hispanic.

Unfair Targeting of Minorities

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyerProperty damage, including accidental damage, damage to one’s own property, or threat to damage certain property, is considered a serious offense in the state of Wisconsin. In fact, under the right circumstances, damage to property could lead to felony charges. The following information can help you understand what might constitute criminal damage to property charges under Wisconsin state law, and what the potential consequences might be if you are convicted.

What Constitutes Criminal Damage to Property in Wisconsin?

Generally, any act that somehow damages or devalues the property of another is considered a crime. This can include graffiti, arson, bombing, demolition, and many other types of destruction. This charge also encompasses a wide range of property, such as schools and highways, art and rock sculptures, and can even include one’s own property, under the right circumstances.

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Wisconsin criminal statues, Wisconsin defense lawyerPredictive Policing, or PredPol, has been used to prevent and make arrests on everything from burglary to domestic disturbances. However, it has mostly been a numbers game – a statistical analysis that was reliant on already available data, such as crime rate in a given area and convicted criminal offenders who could be possible perpetrators. Already problematic, in and of itself, this program could soon be reaching well beyond just software and databases. In fact, Los Angeles is already planning to use Twitter as a means of preventing hate crime.

Social Media Policing Meets PredPol

Social media has already become a tool for police. It has been used to release messages about alleged criminals in hiding or on the run. It has been used to arrest individuals who have made threats or boasted about their crimes. Now hate speech – or even speech that could be misconstrued as hate speech – could raise the police flag. It will be a marriage of social media and predictive policing.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyerAfter a nationwide sweep for healthcare fraud violations, the Justice Department is bringing criminal charges against hundreds of providers. Nurses, physicians, and even entire clinics are all on the list. What does this mean for their future, and what can you do if you happen to be facing such charges? The following information may be able to help.

Healthcare Fraud or Honest Mistake?

At first glance, avoiding charges for healthcare fraud might seem like an easy task. However, there are strict guidelines and regulations for healthcare providers and facilities. One misstep could lead to serious problems. For example, failing to practice due diligence and ensure that all employees are eligible to participate in Federal healthcare programs could put you at risk. Haphazard documentation can lead to accidental double billing for services rendered.

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