Possession of explosives is a felony in Wisconsin.  It may attract federal attention.  Contact our defense attorneys at (414) 270-0202 for help.

Possession of explosives is a serious criminal charge in Wisconsin.  There are two versions of this offense, both felonies:

  • Making, buying, transporting, possessing, or transferring any explosive compound, or offering to do so, with intent to use such explosives to commit a crime, or knowing that another intends to commit a crime, is a Class F felony.  A Class F felony is punishable by up to 12.5 years in prison, $25,000.00 in fines, or both.
  • Making, buying, selling, transporting, possessing, using, or transferring any improvised explosive device, or possessing materials or components with the intent to assemble any improvised explosive device, is a Class H felony.  A Class H felony is punishable by up to 6 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.
Obviously facing felony-level criminal charges is an incredibly serious matter.  Frequently this is compounded by the fact that criminal cases involving explosives attracts media attention.  Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, bomb cases also involve additional charges, such as making terrorist threats.
At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., we believe that one of the most important steps to take when facing criminal charges is to hire a top criminal defense attorney.  Felony-level charges involving firearms, explosives, or harm to others have the very real possibility of the prosecution seeking a prison sentence.  One of the best ways to combat this possibility is to retain the services of someone who knows what he or she is doing.  You’ll find numerous criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. who fit that definition.  Contact us at (414) 270-0202.  Let’s start talking about your case.
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Section 941.31 of the Wisconsin Statutes – Possession of explosives

Section 941.31 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits possession of explosives and improvised explosive devices.  This sections also prohibits a number of other activities:

(1)  Whoever makes, buys, transports, possesses, or transfers any explosive compound or offers to do the same, either with intent to use such explosive to commit a crime or knowing that another intends to use it to commit a crime, is guilty of a Class F felony.


(a) In this subsection, “improvised explosive device” means a destructive explosive device capable of causing bodily harm, great bodily harm, death or property damage; with some type of explosive material and a means of detonating the explosive material, directly, remotely, or with a timer either present or readily capable of being inserted or attached; which may include a pipe or similar casing, with the ends of the pipe or casing capped, plugged or crimped, and a fuse or similar object sticking out of the pipe or casing; and made by a person not engaged in the legitimate manufacture or legitimate use of explosives, or otherwise authorized by law to do so. “Improvised explosive device” does not include ammunition for any rifle, pistol or shotgun.

(b) Whoever makes, buys, sells, transports, possesses, uses or transfers any improvised explosive device, or possesses materials or components with intent to assemble any improvised explosive device, is guilty of a Class H felony.

(c) This subsection does not apply to the transportation, possession, use, or transfer of any improvised explosive device by any armed forces or national guard personnel or to any peace officer in the line of duty or as part of a duty-related function or exercise. The restriction on transportation in this subsection does not apply to common carriers. Notwithstanding s. 939.22 (22), this paragraph does not apply to a commission warden.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1350 – Possession of explosives for unlawful purposes

While the name of this jury instruction slightly expands the title of this crime, it prohibits the same conduct described in section 941.31(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes.  Jury instructions break crimes down into small parts.  Those small parts, called elements, are what the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to sustain a conviction against a defendant.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1350 provides the elements of this offense:

  • Firstly, the defendant possessed any explosive compound.
    • Possessed means the defendant knowingly had actual physical control of the explosive compound.
      • An item is in a person’s possession if it is in an area over which the person has control and the person intends to exercise control over the item.
      • It is not required that the person own an item in order to possess it.  What is required is that the person exercise control over the item.
      • Finally, possession may be shared with another person.  If a person exercises control over an item, that item is in his possession, even though another person may also have similar control.
  • Secondly, the defendant possessed an explosive compound with intent to use the explosive to commit a crime.

Possession of an improvised explosive device has similar elements.

While the jury instruction’s don’t expand much on what we already know about this crime, the definition of possession is important.  Sometimes defendants get stuck on the fact that ownership isn’t needed in order to show possession.  One need not own the explosives in order to possess them.  Criminal charges require only possession.

An animated bomb
Possession of explosives for an unlawful purpose is a felony in Wisconsin. Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. at (414) 270-0202 to be connected with one of the best criminal defense attorneys in Wisconsin.  We offer free consultations.

Improvised explosive devices vs. explosives

You’ve likely noticed a difference in the definitions of the crimes we’ve provided.

The jury instructions and statute describe explosive compounds and improvised explosive devices.  Improvised explosive devices are designed to cause bodily harm, great bodily harm, death, and property damage.  The definition includes everything that we colloquially refer to as a “bomb.”  Pipe bombs and other recognizable devices all fit within this definition.  Criminal liability attaches to this offense for simply possessing the device.  The law recognizes the inherent dangerousness of an improvised explosive device.

Explosive components are not automatically dangerous.  Frequently explosive components are used in construction, demolition, and for other non-criminal circumstances.  The law recognizes this, and only attaches criminal liability when possession of explosive components accompanies the intent to commit a crime.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. for help

Van Severen Law Office, S.C. is a criminal defense law firm that focuses on helping individuals defend facing serious criminal accusations.  If you’re facing charges for possession of explosives, you’re certainly looking for someone who knows what he or she is doing.  The criminal defense lawyers at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. are consistently recognized as some of the best in Wisconsin.  We know what we’re doing.

Contact us at (414) 270-0202 to discuss the allegations against you.  We offer free consultations to potential clients.

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