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Author: Benjamin Van Severen

Benjamin T. Van Severen is a Milwaukee, WI criminal defense attorney. Mr. Van Severen is a graduate of Marquette University Law School.

Are brass knuckles illegal in Wisconsin?

What are brass knuckles? Brass knuckles are simply pieces of metal, plastic, or carbon fibers shaped to fit around the knuckles.  The device works by preserving and concentrating a punch’s force by directing it towards a smaller and harder contact area.  This results in an increased potential for tissue disruption, including an increased likelihood of…


Romeo and Juliet Laws in Wisconsin

What are Romeo and Juliet laws? Romeo and Juliet laws were designed to lessen penalties associated with statutory rape laws.  Specifically, these laws focus on teenagers who engage in voluntary sexual acts with someone older than they are.  Interpretations vary by state, but they all have the same general purpose.  In no instance do these…


Who can own guns in Wisconsin?

Minors in possession of firearms in Wisconsin: Individuals under 12 years old in Wisconsin can only possess firearms while engaging in a Hunter Safety program.  Importantly a child under 12 years old may complete the program but must wait until he’s 12 to actually hunt.  Once a child turns 12, he’s allowed to possess a…


Marsy’s Law in Wisconsin

History of Marsy’s Law Marsy Nicholas was the sister of Henry Nicholas, the co-founder and former co-chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Broadcom Corporation. In 1983, Marsy, then a senior at UC Santa Barbara, was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend.  Kerry Michael Conley went to jury trial in the matter.  Eventually he lost…


Can Milwaukee police use confidential informants?

Can police use informants? Police can use confidential informants, and have been using them for decades.  The law ebbs and flows regarding disclosure of the identity of confidential informants, but that’s really the only issue we regularly encounter in the law. A confidential informant is a secret source who, through a contact law enforcement officer,…


Is it illegal to share my prescription medication?

Obtaining a prescription medication by fraud Various parts of Section 450.11(7) of the Wisconsin Statutes deals with obtaining a prescription drug using fraud.  While this blog post deals with the common situation involving exchanging prescription medication between family and friends, that situation could easily evolve into one involving trying to obtain a prescription using fraud. …


How does a felony conviction affect my voting rights?

A felony conviction impacts your voting rights.  Our criminal defense attorneys explain how this happens: Voting rights vary throughout the United States.  In some states, a felony conviction renders you ineligible to vote for the rest of your life.  While this is certainly voter manipulation, thankfully Wisconsin felons maintain their eligibility to vote.  This blog…


What is the Fourth Amendment?

Fourth Amendment searches Searches are one of the ways criminal cases involve the 4th Amendment. Initially, 4th Amendment case law revolved around a citizen’s property rights.  A citizen’s property rights become involved when the government physically intruded on “houses, papers, or effects” for the purpose of finding information (a search).  Early 4th cases focused on…


Wisconsin three strikes law

Wis. Stat. sec. 939.62 – increased penalty for habitual criminality Section 939.62 of the Wisconsin Statutes deals with increased penalties for habitual criminals.  But subsection (2m) deals with Wisconsin’s three strikes law. Section 939.62(2m)(a) describes the charges that fall under Wisconsin’s three strikes law: Sexual assault of a child, engaging in repeated acts of sexual…


Internet browsing history: can it be used in court?

Who has access to my browsing history?  Who can see it? ISPs can see everything you do online.  They track things like which websites you visit, how long you spend on them, the content you view from a website (videos, pictures), the device you’re using, your geographic location, and the time you spend on the…

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