Emergency medical personnel such as EMTs, firefighters, and certain first responders often respond to dangerous and sometimes uncontrolled situations. Lawmakers in Wisconsin recognized this when creating section 941.37 of the Wisconsin Statutes, which is a criminal law prohibiting obstructing emergency medical personnel. Simply interfering with emergency medical personnel is a Class A misdemeanor. If the defendant should know that his conduct may endanger the safety of another, the charge is a Class I felony. And finally, in certain situations where the defendant’s interference contributes to the death of another, the charge is a Class E felony.
Because of the inherent danger involved in these situations, sometimes criminal charges under this statute attract media attention. At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., our criminal defense lawyers have helped many individuals facing criminal charges related to high-profile situations. We’re comfortable representing clients in these situations. Prior to speaking with the media, it’s always a good idea to retain a lawyer. It’s important to remember that statements made in public, such as statements to reporters, can be used against the defendant.
Importantly, we offer free consultations to potential clients. During that consultation you’ll have the opportunity to meet with a criminal defense lawyer and discuss your case. That attorney can briefly answer questions and begin planning potential strategy. If our firm is a match for your needs, during the consultation we’ll also discuss the next steps in representation.
Contact us at (414) 270-0202. We’re available 24/7.
Section 941.37(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes provides the law dealing with obstructing emergency medical personnel. It says:
(1) In this section:(a) “Ambulance” has the meaning specified in s. 256.01 (1t).(b) “Authorized emergency vehicle” has the meaning specified in s. 340.01 (3).(c) “Emergency medical personnel” means an emergency medical services practitioner licensed under s. 256.15, emergency medical responder certified under s. 256.15 (8), peace officer or fire fighter, or other person operating or staffing an ambulance or an authorized emergency vehicle.(2) Any person who knowingly obstructs any emergency medical personnel in the performance of duties relating to an emergency or rescue is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.(3) Any person who intentionally interferes with any emergency medical personnel in the performance of duties relating to an emergency or rescue and who has reasonable grounds to believe that the interference may endanger another’s safety is guilty of a Class I felony.(4) Any person who violates sub. (3) and thereby contributes to the death of another is guilty of a Class E felony.
Jury instructions break offenses down into smaller parts, called elements. In order to sustain a conviction against the defendant, the government must prove each of the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s for that reason that understanding the elements of a crime is important. Frequently our criminal defense lawyers will discuss these elements with potential clients during a consultation. Courts use them during plea hearings and during trial.
Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1360 provides the elements of obstructing emergency medical personnel:
Importantly, we previously discussed one misdemeanor and two felony versions of this offense. Because this jury instruction includes an element relating to the defendant recognizing that his behavior might endanger the safety of another, this is the Class I felony version. The Class A misdemeanor version of this crime does not require the government to prove this element. An additional element dealing with the defendant’s conduct contributing to the death of another human is required for the Class E felony version of this crime.
Top criminal defense attorneys attack cases in a variety of ways. Sometimes pre-trial motion practice gets us positive results, such as either a reduction or complete dismissal of charges against the defendant. But not all cases resolve short of trial. Some require arguing your case before either a judge (court trial) or a jury. Other clients are simply looking to resolve their case with the best possible deal we can arrange. This strategy could include gathering character reference evidence and helping you rehabilitate while your case proceeds. All cases and all clients are different.
If you’re facing criminal charges, contact us at (414) 270-0202. At Van Severen Law Office, we offer free consultations to potential clients. During that consult, we can discuss your case, possible strategy, and briefly answer questions. At the conclusion, we’ll determine whether our firm is a fit for representation.