Reckless driving causing bodily harm is a serious misdemeanor in Wisconsin.  Contact our criminal defense law firm at (414) 270-0202 for help.

Reckless driving causing bodily harm is an incredibly serious misdemeanor charge in Wisconsin.  In the age of a reckless driving crisis, lawmakers, prosecutors, and the public have all called for harsh penalties associated with reckless driving situations.  This especially applies in urban areas like Milwaukee.  Because of this, this misdemeanor offense includes a unique mandatory minimum penalty of 30 days in jail upon conviction.  An unclassified misdemeanor, the maximum penalty for this charge is 12 months in jail.

Van Severen, S.C. is a law firm based in Milwaukee, WI, focused exclusively on defending individuals accused of committing crimes.  Whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor such as this, or an associated felony, we can help.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 to speak with one of our criminal defense lawyers and to schedule a free consultation.

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Section 346.62(3) of the Wisconsin Statutes – Reckless driving

Section 346.62 of the Wisconsin Statutes is titled “reckless driving.”  Subsection (3) focuses specifically on situations resulting in bodily harm:

(3) No person may cause bodily harm to another by the negligent operation of a vehicle.

While many statutes in Wisconsin describe the specific penalty that applies to a crime, this one does not.  Instead, section 346.65(3) of the Wisconsin Statutes describes the penalty:

(3) Except as provided in sub. (5m), any person violating s. 346.62 (3) shall be fined not less than $300 nor more than $2,000 and may be imprisoned for not less than 30 days nor more than one year in the county jail.

The mandatory minimum penalty for this offense is 30 days in jail, while the maximum is a full year in jail.  This unspecified misdemeanor penalty is more serious than a Class A level offense, which only carries a maximum penalty of 9 months in jail.  It’s clear lawmakers consider this charge serious and attached a serious penalty to it.

Importantly, this offense isn’t very far from becoming a felony.  Acting recklessly (rather than criminally negligent) results in a felony-level charge for recklessly endangering safety.  If the government alleges the defendant committed the offense with utter disregard for human life, the charge is a Class F felony, carrying 12.5 years in prison and $25,000.00 in fines.  The line between criminally negligent and reckless is a fine one, and certain prosecutors (specifically those with a bent toward overcriminalization) will default with felony charges against the defendant.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 2652 – Reckless driving: causing bodily harm.

As with all crimes in Wisconsin, reckless driving causing bodily harm breaks down into specific elements that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  Elements are pieces of a crime, and they’re easier for juries to understand.  They’re also helpful for our discussion.  The elements of this offense are:

  • Firstly, the defendant operated a vehicle on [all premises held out to the public for use of their motor vehicles, whether such premises are publicly or privately owned and whether or not a fee is charged for the use thereof].
  • Secondly, the defendant operated a vehicle in a manner constituting criminal negligence.
    • Criminal negligence requires:
      • The defendant’s operating of a vehicle created a risk of death or great bodily harm; and
      • The risk of death or great bodily harm was unreasonable and substantial; and
      • The defendant should have been aware that his operation of a vehicle created the unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm.
  • Thirdly, the defendant’s criminal negligence cause bodily harm to the victim.  Bodily harm means physical pain or injury, illness, or impairment of physical condition.

The original jury instruction was drafted using the term “highway” instead of ” all premises held out…”  Both terms are used interchangeably while discussing where the defendant operated his vehicle.

How do we win criminal cases?

All cases are different.  And all wins are different.

When defending any criminal case, one of the first steps our criminal defense lawyers take is to compare the facts of your case to the jury instructions.  Do the facts support the government proving each element beyond a reasonable doubt?  If not, we have a few options.  Can we convince a prosecutor to see the case the same way? That could lead to a voluntary dismissal of the charges you’re facing.  But even if they don’t, you have a constitutional right to a jury trial, where we may present the same argument to the jury.

Pre-trial motions are devices used well before trial to challenge the government in certain aspects.  For example, if police didn’t find your car at the scene, but instead found it in your garage as the result of a search conducted pursuant to a warrant, we’ll take a look at the documents the police used to request the warrant for constitutional validity.  In other words, did the affidavit police used to obtain the warrant contain probable cause that they’d find evidence of a crime at your address?  If not, in specific circumstances, all evidence obtained as the result of an illegal warrant is suppressed.  There are numerous other motions that may apply in your case.

Because each case is different, we offer free consultations to potential clients.  During your initial consultation, you’ll have an hour to discuss your case with one of our criminal defense lawyers.  We can also begin to strategize and plan possible defenses for the charges you’re facing.

A man recklessly drives his car down the street causing bodily harm
Reckless driving causing bodily harm is a misdemeanor in Wisconsin. Contact our criminal defense attorneys at (414) 270-0202 immediately to speak about this or any other criminal charge.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately for help: (414) 270-0202

Hiring the right criminal defense attorney is an important decision.  While plenty of attorneys will happily take your money, not all of them are specialized criminal defense lawyers.  But you’ll find that at Van Severen Law Office, S.C.  All of our attorneys focus their practices on helping individuals in positions just like yours.  We’ve defended thousands of individuals facing both misdemeanor and felony charges.  And we don’t handle non-criminal cases, allowing us to focus all of our knowledge on this specialized area of law.

But we can’t help you unless you call.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 to schedule a free initial consultation and to begin discussing your criminal case.


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