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Strangulation and Suffocation charges?

Contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C. at (414) 270-0202 to discuss your strangulation and suffocation case.

The criminal defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. aggressively defend individuals facing strangulation and suffocation charges.  Our top Wisconsin criminal defense attorneys, including Matthew R. Meyer and Benjamin T. Van Severen have defended hundreds of defendants facing criminal charges just like these.  It’s our opinion that in order to successfully defend any criminal charge, that your defense attorney must be ready to proceed to trial.  Our aggressive defense attorneys are frequently in trial fighting for the rights of their clients.

Law enforcement officers frequently ask alleged victims whether the defendant made any contact with the victim’s mouth, nose, and neck during a physical altercation.  The purpose of this questioning is to elicit a factual basis to charge the defendant with strangulation/suffocation.  A simple battery turns into a felony charge if the cops can show that the defendant constricted the flow of the blood or breath of the victim.  In turn, this puts you in a more difficult position: facing a felony charge is always more problematic than facing a misdemeanor charge.


What is strangulation and suffocation?

Section 940.235 of the Wisconsin Statutes reads:

“Whoever intentionally impedes the normal breathing or circulation of blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person is guilty of a Class H felony.  Whoever violates [this section] is guilty of a Class G felony if the actor has a previous conviction under this section or a previous conviction for violent crime…”

A Class H felony can be punished by 6 years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.  A Class G felony can be punished by 10 years in prison and a $25,000.00 fine.

Strangulation and suffocation does not require that the victim be choked unconscious.  Fights that involve one individual grabbing another by the neck often results in this charge.  We’ve defended cases involving defendants grabbing the victim by the mouth or nose.


How can the government show disrupted breathing or circulation of blood?

This can be confusing.  How can the government show impediment of normal breathing or circulation of blood?  They frequently solve this issue through police questioning.  And they often use leading questions.  For example, rather than asking what happened in the situation, a police officer may ask whether the defendant’s actions caused the victim to have a hard time breathing.  Suddenly the victim has a new idea: he choked me.  That develops into a strangulation charge.

Second, focusing on breathing, rather than blood, makes the case easier to prove for the government.  We know when we can’t breathe.  But we don’t always know when our circulation of blood changes.

Strangulation and suffocation cases are commonly charged with domestic violence enhancers.  This crime is a felony.  That’s plenty serious.  When the case involves domestic violence it becomes even more serious.

Criminal defense lawyers Matt Meyer and Ben Van Severen have defended strangulation cases.  We’ve defended thousands of individuals charged with crimes.  Of course, hundreds of those involved domestic violence situations, or situations involving strangulation/suffocation charge.  We’ve achieved dismissals on the day of trial.  Criminal defense law firm Meyer Van Severen, S.C. provides aggressive, intelligent criminal defense to all criminal cases.  We believe you should hire a lawyer immediately upon learning of a police investigation.


What are the elements of section 940.235, strangulation and suffocation?

Strangulation/suffocation, like all other crimes, requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of certain elements.  Wisconsin JI-Criminal 1255 provides those elements.  Accordingly, the following must occur for a conviction:

  1. The defendant impeded the normal breathing or circulation of blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of the victim;
  2. The defendant did so intentionally.

The instruction makes clear: “Intentionally” requires that the defendant acted with the mental purpose to impede normal breathing or circulation of blood or was aware that his conduct was practically certain to cause that result.  You cannot look into a person’s mind to find intent.  Intent must be found, if at all, from the defendant’s actions, words, and statements, if any, and from all the facts and circumstances in this case bearing upon intent.


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What is the “violent” crime in 940.235(2)?

Remember – strangulation/suffocation charges move from a Class H to a Class G felony in a two circumstances: the defendant has a prior strangulation/suffocation charge, or if he’s been convicted of any other violation crime.  Section 939.632(1)(e)1 of the Wisconsin Statutes, for this purpose, defines violent crimes.  Accordingly, that section lists 34 felonies considered violent crimes.


A man grabs his wife by the neck, committing a strangulation and suffocation against her.
Strangulation and suffocation is illegal in Wisconsin, and can be charged for constricting another’s breathing.

Meyer Van Severen, S.C. provides strangulation and suffocation defense.

Certainly it’s very easy to be very quickly facing felony charges.  And as you’re aware, a felony conviction carries with it serious lifelong collateral consequences.  So does a domestic violence conviction.  Having a Milwaukee criminal defense attorney on your side certainly helps the situation.  Contact Milwaukee defense firm Meyer Van Severen, S.C. if you need strangulation and suffocation defense, or defense to any other crime.  Indeed, our defense lawyers have helped other individuals facing this very charge and can help you.  By all means, call us 24/7 at (414) 270-0202.