Contact Van Severen Law Office at (414) 270-0202 to discuss your Wisconsin criminal case

Wisconsin battery charges range from misdemeanors to felonies.  One version of felony battery in Wisconsin is called substantial battery.  It’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side when facing criminal charges, especially a felony.  If you need substantial battery defense, contact our criminal defense attorneys.  We have defended thousands of individuals facing criminal charges just like these.  A large number of those have included all variants of battery.

Substantial battery had two versions prior to February 1, 2003: “with intent to cause bodily harm” and “with intent to cause substantial bodily harm.”  Currently, in order to be charged with substantial battery, a defendant only needs to intend to cause bodily harm.  What’s the difference?  “With intent to cause substantial harm” is more difficult to prove.  The government was required to show that the defendant actually intended to cause the higher level of harm.  Now, all that needs to be shown is the defendant intended to cause some bodily harm.

At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., our criminal defense attorneys dedicate their entire practices to defending charges just like this.  Substantial battery, misdemeanor battery (a Class A misdemeanor), and all other violent charges are charges we frequently encounter while representing clients.  Contact us at (414) 270-0202 immediately to begin speaking with one of our criminal defense lawyers and to set up a free initial consultation.

What is substantial battery?

Section 940.19(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes provides the current definition of substantial battery:

“(2) Whoever causes substantial bodily harm to another by an act done with intent to cause bodily harm to that person or another is guilty of a Class I felony.”

“Substantial bodily harm” means an injury to the body that includes a laceration that requires stitches/staples/a tissue adhesive, any fracture of a bone, a broken nose, a burn, a temporary loss of consciousness/sight/hearing, a concussion, or a loss or fracture of a tooth.

“Bodily harm” (referring to “with intent to cause bodily harm”) means physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of the victim’s physical condition.

Substantial battery is punishable by a Class I felony, carrying with it a potential penalty of 3 years and 6 months in prison, a $10,000.00 fine, or both.  Class I felonies are the very lowest level felony in Wisconsin, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a serious charge.  Potential time in prison, and the associated felony-level collateral consequences (such as losing your right to possess a firearm for he rest of your life) are incredibly serious.

Finally, considering the statute and the simple definitions we included, this is a relatively straightforward criminal charge.  You’ll quickly notice that consent isn’t relevant to a substantial battery charge.  This is a significant change from misdemeanor battery, which requires that the victim did not consent to the bodily harm.  Instead, whether or not the victim consented (“Hit me!”) has no impact on criminal charges.  That all being said, a creative criminal defense attorney should be able to use in a way that benefits his client.

What is an example of this offense?

Matt walks up to Ben and punches him.  As a consequence of this punch, Ben suffers a broken nose.  Obviously Matt intended to cause pain to Ben when he punched him.

The reason this case is not misdemeanor battery, but instead substantial battery, is because of the broken nose.  Felony battery requires that the defendant caused substantial bodily harm to the victim.  The definition of the crime is “a laceration that requires stitches, samples, or a tissue adhesive; any fracture of any bone; a broken nose; a burn; a petechia; a temporary loss of consciousness, sight, or hearing; a concussion; or a loss or fracture of a tooth.”  Wis. Stat. sec. 939.22(38)


Victim with broken nose
Breaking someone else’s nose could be the basis for a substantial battery charge.

What are the elements of substantial battery?

The elements of this violent crime are provided in Wisconsin JI-Criminal 1222.  Accordingly, those jury instructions indicate the elements of the crime that the State must prove:

  1. The defendant caused substantial bodily harm to the victim;
  2. The defendant intended to cause bodily harm to the victim.

“Cause” means that the defendant’s act was a substantial factor in producing the result.  “Intent to cause bodily harm” means that the defendant had the mental purpose to cause bodily harm to another human being, or was aware that his conduct was practically certain to cause bodily harm to another human being.

Jury instructions are important to us for a few reasons.  Most importantly, courts use them to instruct juries on various issues.  Jury instructions break crimes down into elements, or parts, of an offense.  The government must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt.  Criminal defense attorneys use jury instructions when analyzing how to fight a case.  They’re also helpful in conversations with clients regarding the charges they’re facing.

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Domestic violence

Frequently we encounter substantial battery charges that occur after a domestic violence incident. While we recognize that substantial battery is already a felony (and therefore carries significant collateral consequences), a DV conviction results in additional penalties because of their status alone.  For misdemeanor charges, a DV conviction adds a lifetime ban on the defendant’s ability to possess a firearm for the rest of his life.  Again, this consequence is already built into felonies.  DV charges add financial punishments and DV labels that could lead to the defendant being discriminated against in the future.

Van Severen Law Office provides the very best criminal defense

The criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. regularly represent individuals fighting substantial battery charges.  Substantial battery is a Class I felony in Wisconsin, meaning the potential consequences of a conviction are serious and include the potential to be sent to prison.  We believe that one of the best ways to avoid such a result is to hire one of Wisconsin’s best criminal defense lawyers to help fight your case.

We’ve been fighting substantial battery cases for decades.  Our firm dedicates 100% of its resources to helping individuals in positions just like yours.  We recognize the battle you’re fighting and we’re prepared to help.

To speak with one of our skilled criminal defense attorneys, contact our firm at (414) 270-0202.

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