Standardized field sobriety tests – What are they?

Horizontal gaze nystagmus The HGN test is the most accurate of the three tests.  The test has a 77% accuracy rate in detecting when blood alcohol levels are above .10%.  Nystagmus itself is involuntary jerking or bouncing of the eyeball.  The jerking or bouncing makes it appear that the pupil is being pulled back towards…

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Grand jury’s decision in Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson – How Wisconsin grand juries work

Grand jury proceedings are secret: Although grand jury proceedings are secret, they’re usually more relaxed than something like the preliminary hearing.  The secret nature of the grand jury proceeding encourages witnesses to provide truthful information without fear of retaliation.  In the event of a witness refusing to testify, frequently the government will provide immunity to…

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Underage Alcohol Consumption/Possession Tickets

Underage alcohol consumption tickets can be trouble. Underage alcohol consumption/possession (underage drinking) tickets are extremely common once students return to college.  Fortunately, an underage drinking ticket is a forfeiture.  A forfeiture is a non-criminal offense that results in a fine.  Jail or prison time are not consequences of a forfeiture, but certain other collateral consequences…

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The Castle Doctrine

Clarification of the Castle Doctrine: At least one case helped clarify the castle doctrine.  In State v. Chew, the Court of Appeals was tasked with determining whether the doctrine applied (whether a jury instruction should be given) when Mr. Chew fired shots from the hall in his apartment and the doorway of the apartment building…

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Guide to Expunction (Expungement)

Expungement for individuals 25 years old and younger: Old law: The legislature amended section 973.015 of the Wisconsin Statutes on July 1, 2009.  Prior to that date, expungement only applied to misdemeanor convictions and defendants under 21 years old.  The law excluded felonies.  Finally, the law also prohibited expunction for defendants over 21 years old….

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I was just sentenced. I want to appeal. What do I do?

Notice of right to seek postconviction relief Pay attention during sentencing.  You’re stressed out and worrying about what is going to happen.  But it’s important you watch for potential appellate issues.  Even if you don’t thoroughly understand the law, you certainly know when something feels off.  After sentencing, your attorney will have you sign a…

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Probation and extended supervision revocation. What is it? Can I fight it?

What happens after the probation revocation investigation? Upon completion of the investigation, the probation agent makes an important decision: am I going to revoke the offender or not?  If the agent decides to revoke the offender, the offender must be notified within 2 working days of the violations he’s facing and the rights he has…

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What is probation? What should I expect?

Withheld sentences vs. imposed and stayed sentences: When the court places the defendant on probation it also determines what to do with the underlying sentence.  Should the court announce a penalty on the front end for a failure of probation?  Or should the court wait and only sentence the defendant if he fails probation?  That’s…

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What is a preliminary hearing?

The timing of the preliminary hearing in felony cases: Section 970.03(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes describes the timing involved.  The preliminary hearing must be conducted within 20 days after the initial appearance if the defendant was released from custody.  It must be held within 10 days after the initial appearance if the defendant’s bail was…

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Misdemeanor Penalties in Wisconsin

What’s the actual definition of a misdemeanor? Section 939.60 of the Wisconsin Statutes provides us the actual definition of misdemeanor: A crime punishable by imprisonment in the Wisconsin state prisons is a felony.  Every other crime is a misdemeanor. We certainly believe that the focus on time is easier to understand.  By this definition, a…

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