Assisting escape is a felony in Wisconsin.  Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. regarding this, or any other, criminal charge: (414) 270-0202

Assisting escape, like permitting escape, is a serious felony criminal charge in Wisconsin.  While these two charges are similar, assisting escape refers to actively helping an inmate escape from custody.  Permitting escape, on the other hand, refers to a criminal charge based simply on letting an inmate escape from custody.  If committed by a public officer or employee, both crimes are Class F felonies, meaning they’re punishable by up to 12.5 years in prison, $25,000.00 in fines, or both.  A Class F felony breaks down into 7.5 years initial confinement and 5 years extended supervision.  If committed by anyone else, the charge is a Class H felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison (3 in, 3 out), $10,000.00 in fines, or both.
Frequently situations involving the escape of an inmate results in a flurry of media attention. When a correctional officer or employee of the facility is involved, there’s even more attention.  This is especially the case since the April, 2022 incident in Alabama involving correctional officer Vicky White and inmate Casey Cole White.  While that doesn’t impact how aggressively we defend your case, it could result in added stress to your life.  It’s important to remember that any statements the defendant, family of the defendant, or friends of the defendant make to the media can be used in court.  It is important to avoid interviews and other public statements  until acting under the advice of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., our criminal defense attorneys regularly defend individuals facing serious criminal charges.  Sometimes those criminal charges involve a significant amount of media attention.  We’ve helped our clients handle the media and the criminal charges, and we’re comfortable doing it again.  Contact our firm 24/7/365 at (414) 270-0202.
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Section 946.44(1)(b) of the Wisconsin Statutes – Assisting escape

Section 946.44(1)(b) of the Wisconsin Statutes defines the crime called assisting escape.  It indicates:

946.44 Assisting or permitting escape.
(1)  Whoever does the following is guilty of a Class H felony:
(b) Whoever with intent to aid any prisoner to escape from custody introduces into the institution where the prisoner is detained or transfers to the prisoner anything adapted or useful in making an escape.
(1g) Any public officer or public employee who violates sub. (1) (a) or (b) is guilty of a Class F felony.

The statute is broad – anything that is intended to be adapted to use, or useful, in making an escape satisfies the definition.  The only thing required is that the defendant intend to aid the prisoner in an escape.  Let’s consider an example: a correctional officer provides an inmate with keys that allow an inmate access to the exterior portion of the facility.  Getting through one door isn’t going to result in an escape by itself, but the keys are certainly “useful” in achieving that goal.  A completed escape isn’t required here, but simply helping the prisoner get closer to that point.

And importantly, the fact that we’re dealing with a correctional officer makes this crime a Class F felony, exposing the defendant to a potential 12.5 year penalty.  This is due to the fact that the correctional officer is a public employee.

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Assisting escape is a felony in Wisconsin. If you’re facing charges for this, or any other serious criminal charge, contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. to see how we can help. (414) 270-0202.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1781 – Assisting escape

Jury instructions are helpful tools used throughout the criminal justice system.  Frequently, the first time you’ll encounter them is during a consultation with a proper criminal defense attorney.  Jury instructions break down crimes into smaller parts, called elements. Elements are important because they’re what the government must prove at trial, beyond a reasonable doubt.  During a plea hearing, the court will also confirm that the elements of a crime exist in order to find a factual basis for the plea.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1781 provides us the elements of assisting escape:

  • Firstly, the defendant introduced into the institution, where the prisoner was detained, something adapted for or useful in making an escape; and
  • Secondly, the defendant acted with the intent to aid a prisoner to escape from custody.  This requires that the defendant had the mental purpose to help the prisoner escape from custody.
    • “Escape” means to leave custody without lawful permission.

Again, you’ll notice an issue we previously discussed: actual escape is not required.  The defendant simply needed to give the prisoner something and merely had the intent to help the prisoner escape.  It is not required that the prisoner actually escape.  

Class F felony vs. Class H felony cases

Finally, it’s important for us to discuss the definitions of public employee and public officer.  When those individuals commit this crime, they face more than double the potential maximum penalty than anyone else.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1782 provides us these definitions:

  • Public officer: Any person appointed or elected according to law to discharged a public duty for the state or one of its subordinate units.
  • Public employee: Any person, not an officer, who performs any official function on behalf of the state or one of it subordinate units and is paid from the public treasury of the state or subordinate governmental unit.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. for help with any criminal charges.

Hiring the right criminal defense attorney for your charges is important.  Criminal allegations such as this one can rely on a lot of circumstantial evidence.  Are other prisoners witnesses?  Let’s examine their credibility issues.  Is the prisoner himself serving as a witness for the state?  Obviously there’s also a similar issue there.  Picking apart various parts of your case and attacking them could be the way to successfully defend your case.  Not all criminal defense attorneys are smart enough, or thorough enough, to present a defense like this to a jury.

At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., you’ll meet some of Wisconsin’s best criminal defense attorneys.  We regularly defend individuals facing serious, complex criminal charges throughout the state.  Plenty of those cases are high profile and attract media attention.  We’ve handled tough cases, and we’d like to speak with you about yours.

Contact us at (414) 270-0202.  You can reach out firm 24/7/365, so call now.

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