Election fraud is a serious charge in Wisconsin. Unfortunately we live in a time where certain politicians call the validity of elections into question. Because of that, the government considers election fraud a very serious offense. Prosecutors take these charges seriously and frequently prosecute them. And most importantly, they’re a felony. Election fraud is a Class I felony, punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.
Sometimes criminal charges attract media attention. Because of today’s political climate, that’s certainly the case. But don’t let that intimidate you. Our criminal defense attorneys regularly defend individuals facing high-profile criminal charges that make the news. Your case is no different, and we’re prepared to dedicate our law firm’s resources to your defense.
Finally, contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and let’s discuss your charges. We offer potential clients free consultations. At that free consultation we’ll figure out how to start defending your case and figure out if we’re a match.
Section 12.13 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits election fraud. The law says:
(1)Electors. Whoever intentionally does any of the following violates this chapter:(a) Votes at any election or meeting if that person does not have the necessary elector qualifications and residence requirements.(b)Falsely procures registration or makes false statements to the municipal clerk, board of election commissioners or any other election official whether or not under oath.(c) Registers as an elector in more than one place for the same election.(d) Impersonates a registered elector or poses as another person for the purpose of voting at an election.(e) Votes more than once in the same election.(f) Shows his or her marked ballot to any person or places a mark upon the ballot so it is identifiable as his or her ballot.(g) Procures an official ballot and neglects or refuses to cast or return it. This paragraph does not apply to persons who have applied for and received absentee ballots.(h)Procures, assists or advises someone to do any of the acts prohibited by this subsection.
As we previously described, only one version of this crime has a jury instruction, specifically section 12.13(1)(a). Those jury instructions indicate:
While there is only one official jury instruction for the offense, but 8 different versions of the statute, understanding 5301 might help you to understand the general idea here. For offenses 12.13(1)(b) – (h), your defense lawyer, the prosecutor, and the judge will likely come together and create a special jury instruction for your specific offense.
There’s an important first step we need to take in an election fraud case. Felons can vote, but felons on active supervision cannot. If you are charged with this offense, it’s crucial we figure out your underlying charges and whether your probation officer is seeking to revoke you for this new charge. We represent individuals facing revocation situations also, so if you decide to proceed with our firm we can discuss representation on all fronts.
Secondly, we’ll get into the substance of the case. What kind of proof does the government have that you committed the offense? Sometimes surveillance footage from polling locations can be used in the prosecution of the defendant. Examining that footage and trying to find a reasonable doubt is a first step in that scenario. Alternatively, was an absentee ballot or some other device which allowed the defendant to avoid physical presence at the polling location used? All of these factors certainly help us begin to formulate the reasonable doubt.
Finally, it’s important that you exercise your right to silence. Admitting that you voted, no matter the surrounding circumstances, is certainly a fact that will be used against you. Once you make a confession, it’s not always possible to dig our way out from under it.
You’ve found your way this far. But now is when you need to make an important decision: what kind of help do you want? And when?
Our criminal defense attorneys will all tell you the same thing: the earlier we become involved in a case, the more work we can do, and the more we can protect our client. Many defendants think that cases like this are a simple misunderstanding or that they can talk their way out of charges (or if charges are issued, out of a conviction). That’s not the case in the huge majority of situations. That’s why the government classified this charge as a felony: it’s serious. We suggest keeping your mouth shut and hiring a criminal defense attorney immediately. Certainly don’t get caught lying to the cops, it makes the situation even worse.
So the answers: you should seek help from a criminal defense attorney, and the sooner you do it, the better. At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., we specialize in this kind of thing. Contact us at (414) 270-0202, and we’ll schedule a free consultation.