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Unlawful use of telephone is a misdemeanor in Wisconsin.  Contact Meyer Van Severen to plan your defense. (414) 270-0202

Unlawful use of a telephone is a mitigated misdemeanor in Wisconsin.  The crime qualifies as a Class B misdemeanor, meaning the maximum penalty you face upon conviction is 90 days in jail, $1,000.00 in fines, or both.  While those penalties are certainly near the bottom end of things in Wisconsin, you must remember that this is still a criminal charge.  And finally, criminal convictions carry lifetime collateral consequences.

Unlawful use of a telephone charges are frequently issues in connection to a domestic violence incident.  Certainly the crime doesn’t require DV for issuance, but that’s frequently how these situations operate.  And adding a domestic violence modifier makes it more problematic.  Domestic violence convictions carry collateral consequences very similar to felony convictions.  A DV modifier will cause you more difficulty than the fact of the criminal conviction itself.

The criminal defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. spend a significant amount of time fighting charges like unlawful use of a telephone.  We understand that all criminal allegations are significant, and all criminal convictions will have an impact on your life.  We are fighters.  Let’s fight your case.

For a free initial consultation call us at (414) 270-0202.

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What is unlawful use of telephone?

Section 947.012 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits unlawful use of a telephone.  The law says:

(1) Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor:
(a) With intent to frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse or harass, makes a telephone call and threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person.
(b) With intent to frighten, intimidate, threaten or abuse, telephones another and uses any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggests any lewd or lascivious act.
(c) Makes a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, without disclosing his or her identity and with intent to abuse or threaten any person at the called number.
The law is certainly very clear.  Although in modern society we use telephones for text messages more frequently than phone calls, the law focuses on phone calls.  One cannot be charged for unlawful use of a telephone based on text messages alone.  Instead, unlawful use of a computerized communication system applies to text message-based cases.

What are the elements of this offense?

During a jury trial, the court reads jury instructions to the jury.  Those jury instructions cover a number of various things, but the most significant are the elements of the offense.  The elements are parts of a crime that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1902 describes one version of unlawful use of a telephone:

  • Firstly, the defendant made a telephone call to the victim; and
  • Secondly, in making the telephone call to the victim, the defendant intended to frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass the victim; and
  • Finally, in the course of the telephone call, the defendant threatened to either inflict physical harm to the any person, or threatened to damage the property of any person.

With intent to frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass has a specific meaning.  It must be shown that the defendant had the mental purpose to frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass the alleged victim, or must have been aware that his conduct was practically certain to cause that result.  Further, it’s not necessary that the defendant making the threat actually had the ability to carry out that threat.

A red telephone
Unlawful use of a telephone is a misdemeanor offense in Wisconsin. To speak with our top criminal defense lawyers regarding this or any other charge, contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202.

Are there other versions of this crime?

Certainly, and that’s evidenced by the three different versions of the statute.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instructions 1903 and 1904 describe Wis. Stat. sec. 947.012(1)(b) and Wis. Stat. Sec. 947.012(1)(c):

  • Firstly, the defendant made a telephone call to the victim; and
  • Secondly, in making the telephone call to the victim, the defendant used obscene, lewd or profane language or suggested any lewd or lascivious act; and
  • Finally, the defendant made the telephone call to the victim with intent to frighten, intimidate, threaten, or abuse any person at the called number.

Or:

  • Firstly, the defendant made a telephone call; and
  • Secondly, in making the telephone calls the defendant did not disclose his or her identity; and
  • Finally, the defendant made the telephone call with intent to abuse or threaten any person at the called number.

While the first version of this crime sounds like something like disorderly conduct or domestic violence, these versions of the crime sound a lot more like prank calls.  All criminal cases are different, and this is just another instance that is clear.

Why should I hire Meyer Van Severen, S.C. to defend my case?

It’s certainly your life on the line.  Hire the best criminal defense attorney you can find.  Our top criminal defense attorneys regularly fight unlawful use of a telephone charges.  And our defense lawyers dedicate their entire practices to defending criminal cases.  That constant, 100% dedication converts into better results for clients in your position.

Finally, call us.  Let’s set up a free initial consultation.  At that consultation we’ll talk about your case and all of the potential strategies and defenses that apply.  You’ll meet with your criminal defense attorney and begin making the plan to move forward.  We certainly answer calls 24/7, so don’t hesitate: (414) 270-0202.