Handling Multiple Criminal Cases in Wisconsin Circuit Courts & Federal District Courts Throughout the United States

The Law Offices of Scott A. Wales, LLC in Milwaukee, WI provides legal representation services to clients facing serious criminal charges. As a criminal defense lawyer, I will gather the necessary evidence and supporting information to provide you with the best defense to pursue on your behalf


Crime Classifications

The first thing that will regulate your sentence is the law. These outline maximum penalties are allowed for offenses with different severity. Obviously, you will not serve a life sentence for shoplifting. Even if the judge doesn’t like you, this won’t happen because of the statutes.

Some offenses, particularly felony charges, may have mandatory minimum penalties under the Wisconsin law. However, in most cases, reading the statutes won’t give you a realistic assessment of what is likely to happen to you if you are found guilty.

Wisconsin Felony Penalties

Felonies are one of the most serious criminal offenses that carries the harshest potential sentence.

  • Class A Up to Life Imprisonment
  • Class B Up to 60 Years of Imprisonment
  • Class C Up to 40 Years in Prison and Fines Reaching $100,000
  • Class D Up to 25 Years in Prison and Fines Reaching $100,000
  • Class E Up to 15 Years in Prison and Fines Reaching $50,000
  • Class F Up to 12 ½ Years in Prison and Fines Reaching $25,000
  • Class G Up to 10 Years in Prison and Fines Reaching $25,000
  • Class H Up to Six Years in Prison and Fines Reaching $10,000
  • Class I Up to 3 ½ Years in Prison and Fines Reaching $10,000

Wisconsin Misdemeanor Penalties

Misdemeanors are slightly more serious than forfeitures and criminal offenses. Like forfeitures, misdemeanors are further broken down into three classes such as:

  • Class A Up to Nine Months in Jail and Fines Reaching $10,000
  • Class B Up to 90 Days in Jail and Fines Reaching $1,000
  • Class C Up to 30 Days in Jail and Fines Reaching $500

Wisconsin Forfeiture Penalties

A forfeiture is considered as the lowest classification of criminal offense with simple fines that are further broken down into five classes such as:

  • Class A Up to $25
  • Class B Up to $200
  • Class C Up to $500
  • Class D Up to $1,000
  • Class E Up to $10,000

Wisconsin Criminal Sentencing Procedures

You may be anticipating some closure upon the arrival of your sentence date. Chances are you are frightened of what your future may hold, particularly if you are facing imprisonment. This is no time for uncertainty. As your attorney, I can help you set your expectations to help you prepare for the trial.

  • When determining your sentence, a judge will consider many factors including your criminal history, if any, employment status, education level, ties to the community, family responsibilities, your health, along with a myriad of other information to help the court in determining an appropriate sentence. Remember to keep in mind that “no two people are alike’ and therefore each person is entitled to a fair and particularized sentence by the court.

Pre-Sentence Investigation

In addition to looking to the statutes for guidance, the judge may also order a pre-sentence investigation prior to sentencing. This investigation and subsequent report give the judge insight into your past and current situation. A probation officer will look into the following details:

  • Family History
  • Psychological Evaluation
  • Connections in the Community
  • Employment History
  • Criminal History
  • Victim Impact Statements
  • Circumstances of the Offense

What the judge is looking for in your pre-sentence report is an indication of your likelihood to re-offend. One of the most important aspects of the report is the recommendation of the investigating probation officer. This officer may recommend that you are a good candidate for community supervision, increasing the likelihood that you will be in a probation status rather than suffering an active prison term.

Knowing what the judge uses to determine your sentence can help you understand how and why you are sentenced. During this time, it is important to have an experienced attorney representing your best interests.

Wisconsin Criminal Court Process

Being called into court to face criminal charges is frightening. For most people, it is their first exposure to the Wisconsin criminal justice system. You are probably unsure of what to expect throughout the criminal process which only adds up to your stress. As your attorney, it is my job to keep you informed at every stage of the game.

I want you to be informed of the process so you are as comfortable as possible during these trying times. There may be other dates and some Wisconsin courts may handle the process slightly different. As your attorney, I will make sure to keep you informed about what is going to happen.


Your arrest typically takes place after the police serve you a warrant or when a law enforcement agent makes an arrest at the scene of an alleged crime. What happens at and after your arrest is very important to me. The police are required to follow the procedural rules to protect your constitutional rights. From reading your Miranda rights to any searches they might perform, the police must follow the rules of the state precisely.

As your criminal defense lawyer, I am interested in learning exactly how your arrest happened. I want to know what was said and what actions the police took. I want to be certain that your rights were not violated.

First Appearance and Misdemeanor Arraignment

Your first appearance in front of a judge should happen shortly after your arrest. If you are being charged with a misdemeanor, this is where you will be arraigned. Your arraignment is when you are formally charged and allowed to enter a plea. If you have not retained an attorney, you best option at this point is to plead not guilty and immediately call a qualified attorney.

We can discuss your case and decide what are the best options are for you. If you are being charged with a felony, you will simply be advised about your rights at your first appearance. A preliminary hearing date will be set.



At your first appearance, the judge will address bail. This serves as an insurance that you will return on your future court dates. For example, the judge will conduct an evaluation to determine if you are likely to flee the country in order to avoid criminal prosecution.

However, if the judge thinks you are a good candidate, you might be required to present money that will serve as a collateral for your future appearances in court. This is not the only opportunity for bail to be addressed. As your attorney, I can revisit this issue with the judge later in the case.


Preliminary Hearing for Felony Cases

A preliminary hearing is required in felony cases. Although in some circumstances, your attorney may recommend you to waive the hearing. This is to determine if there is enough probable cause that the defendant has probably committed a felony or felonies and if the court determines the answer in the affirmative the case is bound over to the trial court where a trial can be scheduled or if necessary the parties can attempt to negotiate a resolution of the case if it is in the best interests of the client. Again, a preliminary hearing is a limited in scope evidentiary hearing where the prosecution is required to present evidence, even if it is hearsay, to establish that the defendant has probably committed a felony or felonies.

The judge will determine if there is enough evidence to cause a reasonable belief that you committed the crime. If the judge determines that a probable cause is present, your case will be bound over to the circuit court.

Felony Arraignment

Following the preliminary hearing, you will go before the judge for your felony arraignment. This is where you will be formally charged and enter a plea. A trial date will be set at this point.

Pretrial Conference

This is an opportunity for the prosecution and defense attorney to discuss the outcome of the case. Plea discussions will take place at this point. The majority of criminal cases in the United States end with a plea agreement. This is simply when the prosecution agrees to lower the charge or make a lenient sentencing recommendation to the judge in exchange for a guilty plea. This saves the work of going to trial.
The decision to accept a plea bargain is huge. It is not something that should be decided without a high-quality representation. As your attorney, it is my job to help you look at all of your options and how those will affect you.

Pretrial Motions

Before the trial, many motion hearings will be held. From the continuance to the admissibility of evidence, many things can be addressed in these hearings. This is to ensure that both sides are completely ready when your trial date arrives.


The big day has finally come and you are ready for trial. While all criminal cases are different, all trials follow a common pattern.

Each side, beginning with the prosecution will have the opportunity to introduce their case to the judge and or jury.

The longest stage of the trial, this is where the prosecution attempts to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you committed the crime you are charged with. Witnesses will be called by the government and the defense has the opportunity to cross-examine each witness in an effort to challenge that person’s credibility/believability.

The prosecution and defense take turns both in presenting evidence and questioning witnesses. This back and forth can go on indefinitely until both parties are satisfied.

Closing arguments are the last opportunity each side will have to address the jury and judge.

Before the jury deliberates the case, the judge will instruct them of their legal duties.

The jury will retire decide your fate. A jury’s decision must be unanimous.

Once the jury has reached a decision, the judge will enter a verdict.


Once a guilty verdict has been reached, it is up to the judge with the help of Wisconsin statutes to determine your sentence. After the verdict is entered, the judge will set a future date for the sentencing to take place.

Set Up an Appointment

Please contact me to discuss your case, and I can give you a realistic assessment of the penalties and charges that you may face in this kind of situation. I can lay down all the benefits and risks of pleading guilty versus fighting the charges against you. My initial case evaluation is free. Schedule a consultation with me today.