Criminal slander of title is a Class H felony charge in Wisconsin.  Contact Van Severen Law Office for help: (414) 270-0202

Prosecutors in Wisconsin do not frequently charge criminal slander of title.  That being said, it’s still incredibly serious and is classified as a Class H felony.  This is not the lowest level felony available in Wisconsin, and instead carries a potential penalty of 6 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.  That 6 year prison sentence breaks down into a bifurcated sentence of 3 years initial confinement and 3 years extended supervision.

Criminal slander of title sounds like a charge related to defamation, but it’s actually a crime more similar to fraud.  The term slander involves making a false statement that damages the reputation of another.  This charge focuses on using documents that have been falsified in some manner in an attempt to enter a false lien (or similar instrument regarding a security interest) on a house or other real or personal property.

Charges involving financial crimes can get incredibly complex quickly.  Investigations can take years and involve various actors from police departments and prosecutor offices.  Sometimes financial crimes involve numerous defendants, complicating matters even further.  At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., all of our criminal defense lawyers are experts in the field who dedicate their entire practices to criminal defense.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 for help.

free consultation client testimonials

Section 943.60 of the Wisconsin Statutes – Criminal slander of title

Section 943.60 of the Wisconsin Statutes defines criminal slander of title.  The law says:

(1) Any person who submits for filing, entering or recording any lien, claim of lien, lis pendens, writ of attachment, financing statement or any other instrument relating to a security interest in or title to real or personal property, and who knows or should have known that the contents or any part of the contents of the instrument are false, a sham or frivolous, is guilty of a Class H felony.
(2) This section applies to any person who causes another person to act in the manner specified in sub. (1).
(3) This section does not apply to a register of deeds or other government employee who acts in the course of his or her official duties and files, enters or records any instrument relating to title on behalf of another person.
The terms lien, claim of lien, lis pendens, and writ of attachment might seem confusing.  But they’re all simply different instruments that attach some sort of legal claim to some sort of property.  A lien is a form of security interest granted over property to secure the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation.  A claim of lien is used by laborers or contractors and is an encumbrance against real property created by state law for the purpose of securing payment for labor, materials or services expended to improve that property.  A lis pendens indicates that a legal action has been filed regarding an ownership interest in real estate. And finally, a writ of attachment is a form of prejudgment process in which a court orders the seizure of property.
Subsection (2) attaches liability to third parties involved in the fraudulent conduct.  Subsection (3) indicates that government employees who mistakenly rely on the fraudulent record (so long as they do it in the official course of their responsibilities) are not criminally liable.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1499

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1499 helps define criminal slander of title.  As with all other jury instructions, their purpose is to break crimes down into elements, or parts, of an offense.  The government must prove each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict the defendant.  For that very purpose, jury instructions are important to understand, whether you’re a defense attorney, defendant, judge, juror, or anyone else involved in the criminal justice system.

This jury instruction lists the following elements:

  • Firstly, the defendant submitted an instrument for filing, docketing, or recording that related to a security interest or title to real or personal property.  An “instrument” is a document that appears to have some legal effect.  Real property means real estate.
  • Secondly, the content or any part of the contents of the instrument were false, a sham, or frivolous.  This requires that, while the instrument may appear to be a legal document, it has not proper legal significance because its contents were false or because it related no legitimate legal claim, interest, or remedy.
  • Thirdly, the defendant knew or should have known that the contents or any part of the contents of the instrument were false, a sham, or frivolous.  To determine what the defendant should know, consider what an ordinary, reasonable, and prudent person would have known about the contents of the document under the same or similar circumstances.

The “instrument” includes liens, claims of lien, a lis pendens, a writ of attachment, or any other instrument relating to a security interest in property.

One man hands a legal instrument to another
Criminal slander of title is a Class H felony in Wisconsin. All criminal charges, especially felonies, are serious. Contact one of our criminal defense experts immediately at (414) 270-0202 for help.

Will it help me to hire a criminal defense attorney?

White collar criminal cases are different from other offenses.  If you’re charged with a substantial battery after getting into a bar fight, the police will probably show up at your door and arrest you.  Once you’re at the police station, they’ll likely ask you questions in a way designed to illicit a confession (or some sort of incriminating response) on your part.  A criminal slander of title case could begin with police simply requesting you come in and talk to them.  Depending on how shady the law enforcement officer is, he may encourage you to do it without the assistance of an attorney.

Obviously that’s a bad idea.  Police rarely “just want to talk.”  Instead, they’re likely trying to build a case against you.  And these cases aren’t simply you punching someone in front of various witnesses and security cameras.  They require a bit more work.  And what makes that work easier?  Having the suspect come in and walk police through the case.  After an initial interview, sometimes suspects won’t hear anything from the police for another 6, 9, even 12 months later.  Then, they could want more information.  Or they might be looking to arrest you.

Protecting you, even before arrest, is incredibly important to us.  Sometimes defendants who operate on their own walk themselves right into a confession.  Where the police previously didn’t have a case, your statement could be enough to solidify one.  We believe it does help to hire a criminal defense attorney – the sooner, the better.

Call us – we can help.  (414) 270-0202

Criminal slander to title cases are serious.  They’re felonies, meaning that if you’re charged, you face the possibility of going to prison.  This is a scary result for something that may have seemed like simply lying on a few pieces of paperwork.

At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., we focus 100% of our firm’s resources on defending individuals accused of committing crimes in Wisconsin.  Whether you’re charged with criminal slander to title, a misdemeanor, or some other felony, we can help.  Contact us at (414) 270-0202 to schedule your free initial consultation and to begin speaking with one of our Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers.

icon-angle icon-bars icon-times