Endangering safety by use of a dangerous of a dangerous weapon is a serious charge in Wisconsin.  Contact our criminal defense law firm immediately for help: (414) 270-0202

Endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon starts as a Class A misdemeanor in Wisconsin.  And while a Class A misdemeanor only carries a maximum penalty of 9 months in jail and $10,000.00 in fines, this charge escalates to a felony in specific circumstances.  The base offense is relatively simple: it covers situations where the defendant endangers someone else by negligently handling a firearm, points a firearm at someone else, discharges it within 100 yards of certain buildings, or possesses a firearm while intoxicated.

The criminal defense lawyers at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. regularly defend individuals facing gun charges throughout Wisconsin.  This frequently involves firearms charges such as endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon.  If you’re facing any kind of criminal charge, our firm offers free consultations.  You’ll have an opportunity to sit down with one of our criminal defense attorneys to discuss your charges and potential representation.  Contact us at (414) 270-0202.

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What is endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon?

A Class A misdemeanor endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon is committed, pursuant to Section 941.20(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes when an individual:

(a) Endangers another’s safety by the negligent operation or handling of a dangerous weapon.
(b) Operates or goes armed with a firearm while he or she is under the influence of an intoxicant.
(bm) Operates or goes armed with a firearm while he or she has a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in his or her blood … [without a prescription].
(c) Intentionally points a firearm at or toward another.
(d) While on the lands of another discharges a firearm within 100 yards of any building devoted to human occupancy situated on and attached to the lands of another without the express permission of the owner or occupant of the building …

These situations are relatively straightforward: the defendant possesses a firearm in a way that endangers another’s safety, the defendant is intoxicated, the defendant points a firearm at another, or the defendant discharges a firearm with 100 yards of specific buildings.

When is this criminal charge a felony?

Section 941.20(2) and (3) describe situations that result in this charge becoming a felony.

In two circumstances, endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon is a Class G felony:

  • Firstly, in situations where the defendant intentionally discharges a firearm into a building which he should realize might be occupied.
  • Secondly, in situations where the defendant sets a spring gun.  A spring gun is a trap involving a firearm, sometimes a shotgun, that is rigged in a way that it will go off when a string or other triggering device is tripped by another.

The charge is a Class F felony when the following occurs:

  • The defendant discharges a firearm from a vehicle, on a public highway or parking lot, at another person or at any building.

Lawmakers obviously saw the situations in this paragraph as potentially more dangerous.  For example, while the misdemeanor level offense only involves firing a weapon within 100 yard of a building, the Class G version involves actually shooting the building.  And the most serious version includes shooting as said building (or a person) from a vehicle in specific circumstances.

A man points a firearm
Endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon is a criminal charge in Wisconsin. Contact our criminal defense lawyers at (414) 270-0202 immediately for help.

Possession of a firearm while intoxicated

One of the most frequent ways our criminal defense attorneys encounter this charge is when an individual possesses his firearm in a bar or tavern.  When that individual becomes intoxicated, he’s violated this law.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1321 describes possessing a firearm while intoxicated.  The elements require that the government prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Firstly, that the defendant operated or went armed with a firearm.  Went armed with means that the firearm was on the defendant’s person or within his reach.  Obviously the defendant must have also been aware of the firearm.
  • Secondly, the defendant was under the influence of an intoxicant at the time he operated or went armed with the firearm.

The definition of “under the influence of an intoxicant” is certainly important when considering this charge.  This requires that the defendant’s ability to handle a firearm was materially impaired because of consumption of an alcoholic beverage.  While this might sound like a low bar, this also opens up this charge to potential defenses.  How many drinks did you have, and was your ability to handle the firearm actually materially impaired?

How will a top Wisconsin criminal defense attorney defend your case?

One of the first places the criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office, S.C., will begin, is comparing the jury instructions to the facts in your case.  Has the government satisfied all of the elements provided in those instructions?  Can they prove them beyond a reasonable doubt?  Analyzing this part of the case is important for two reasons: on a short-term basis, the ability to prove to a prosecutor that they have proof problems could result in more-favorable plea negotiations, a reduction in charges, or the possibility of a dismissal before trial.  And on a longer-term basis, finding this issue helps us prepare for the possibility of trial itself.

Well before trial, however, we’ll review your case for potential pre-trial motions.  Those motions could focus on any statements you gave to police (remember, you have a right to remain silent), searches conducted on your home or property, any plenty of other issues.  While pre-trial motions certainly don’t apply in every case, we do review every case for them.  The strongest pre-trial motions have the ability to achieve dismissals in certain cases, while others simply improve the posture of a case proceeding to trial.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately regarding your endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon charges

Charges involving dangerous weapons, especially firearms, become aggravated very quickly.  This is especially the case as we move from rural parts of the state to more-urban parts, like Milwaukee.  Hiring a top criminal defense attorney, familiar with criminal law issues throughout Wisconsin, is one of the best moves a defendant can make.  You’ll meet a few of Wisconsin’s best criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office, S.C.

And because we’re here to help, we offer free initial consultations to potential clients seeking representation from our defense lawyers.  All you need to do is reach out.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and let’s start talking about your case.

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