A threat to a law enforcement officer is a felony in Wisconsin.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 for representation.

A threat to a law enforcement officer is a Class H felony in Wisconsin.  That means upon conviction, the charge carries a maximum penalty of 6 years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.  Importantly, this 6 year prison sentence breaks down into 3 years initial confinement followed by an additional 3 years extended supervision.  This is a serious criminal charge that requires serious attention from a top Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer.

Importantly, this charge doesn’t cover being rude to, swearing at (although, this could be disorderly conduct), or even engaging in an argument with a police officer.  Instead, it focuses on actually threatening to cause bodily harm to a police officer or his family.  Actions short of those real threats cannot result in charges under this specific statute.

Finally, if you’re facing charges for threatening a police officer, contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately.  Our law firm focuses 100% of its resources on defending individuals accused of committing crimes in Wisconsin.  We’re familiar with all the issues involved in criminal cases and we’re ready to help.  Contact us at (414) 270-0202 for a free consultation.

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What is a threat to a law enforcement officer?

Section 940.203(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits threatening a law enforcement officer.  The law says:

(2) Whoever intentionally causes bodily harm or threatens to cause bodily harm to the person or family member of any judge, prosecutor, or law enforcement officer under all of the following circumstances is guilty of a Class H felony:
(a) At the time of the act or threat, the actor knows or should have known that the victim is a judge, prosecutor, or law enforcement officer or a member of the judge’s, prosecutor’s, or law enforcement officer’s family.
(b) The act or threat is in response to any action taken by a judge, prosecutor, or law enforcement officer in an official capacity.
(c) There is no consent by the person harmed or threatened.
A few things become immediately clear.  Firstly, the defendant must know that the individual involved is a law enforcement officer.  Cases involving severe intoxication, mental health issues, or plain-clothed police officers could revolve around this requirement.  While certainly other cases involve uniformed police and squad cars, it’s important to remember this requirement when facing this charge.
Secondly, the threat to the law enforcement officer must occur as a result to an action the officer took.  For example, let’s assume the defendant told the police officer, “I’m going to beat you up.”  That statement on its own is certainly not enough to implicate this law.  Instead, if the defendant made that statement in the response to being arrested, this requirement is likely satisfied.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1240D – Threat to a law enforcement officer

Most definitions of crimes in Wisconsin are accompanied by jury instructions.  Jury instructions provide all of the elements (or parts) of an offense that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  Threats to a law enforcement officer charges are no exception.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1240D defines threat to a law enforcement officer:

  • Firstly, the defendant threatened to cause bodily harm to the victim.
    • A “threat” is an expression of intention to do harm and may be communicated orally, in writing, or by conduct.  This element requires a “true threat.”  A true threat means that a reasonable person making the threat would foresee that a reasonable person receiving the threat would interpret it as a serious expression of intent to do harm.  The defendant’s ability to carry out the threat does not matter.
    • “Bodily harm” means physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.
  • Secondly, the victim was a law enforcement officer or family member of a law enforcement officer.
  • Thirdly, the defendant knew that the victim was a law enforcement officer or family member.
  • Fourthly, the threat was in response to an action taken in the law enforcement officer’s official capacity.
    • Law enforcement officers are operating in an official capacity when they are performing the normal duties of their job.
  • Next, the defendant threatened to cause bodily harm to the victim without consent.
  • And finally, the defendant acted intentionally.

As you just saw, the jury instructions also provide very important definitions relevant to the elements of the offense.  It’s certainly important to consider these definitions in conjunction with the elements themselves.


Men threaten police officers
Threatening a law enforcement officer is a felony in Wisconsin. Contact our criminal defense lawyers at (414) 270-0202 for immediate help.

How can a defense attorney help win your criminal case?

Firstly, it’s important to remember the jury instructions we just discussed.  The government must prove each of the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  If they fail, you cannot be convicted of the charge.  This issue comes up a few different ways.  The first, and unfortunately most rarely successful, is by having a conversation with the prosecutor.  Your criminal defense attorney may approach that individual and try to convince him or her that an element is lacking.  If that fails, typically the next step is to argue that failure at trial in front of a jury.

On the way to trial, your criminal defense attorney may file various pre-trial motions.  Motions are important for a few different reasons.  Firstly, a strong motion might be a basis to seek a dismissal of the charges against a defendant.  In a case focused on the defendant’s statements (such as threatening a law enforcement officer), there may be a basis to file a Miranda-Goodchild motion challenging the use of the defendant’s statements at trial.  A successful motion that disallows the government to use the statement that included the threat could lead to a dismissal of charges against you.  Other motions aren’t as consequential and simply request the court to make a decision regarding an issue in the case.

Most importantly, the criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. offer free consultations to potential clients. During those free consultations, potential clients have an hour to sit down with one of our criminal defense attorneys to discuss the case and charges involved.  That will allow for an intimate conversation regarding your case, rather than having you rely on a free, general page on a website.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. at (414) 270-0202

Hiring a criminal defense attorney when facing a criminal prosecution is one of the most important steps you can take.  At Van Severen Law Office, you’ll meet a full staff of seasoned criminal defense attorneys prepared to fight your case.  Whether you’re looking to resolve your case with the best deal possible or proceed all the way to jury trial, we can help.

Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 for help.

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