Intentionally discharging a firearm from a vehicle is a felony charge in Wisconsin.  Contact Van Severen Law Office for help: (414) 270-0202

Intentionally discharging a firearm from a vehicle is the charge that applies to drive-by shootings.  Sometimes this charge shows up on CCAP with its full title: endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon: intentionally discharging a firearm from a vehicle.  No matter how the title appears, this charge is a Class F felony.  A Class F felony carries a maximum penalty of 12.5 years prison.  This sentence breaks down into 7.5 years initial confinement and 5 years extended supervision.

Unfortunately, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, prosecutors frequently add additional charges to scenarios involving drive-by shootings.  Did the defendant allegedly flee from the incident and endanger others while driving away?  First or second degree recklessly endangering safety charges could apply.  So could fleeing and eluding, if police attempted to stop the vehicle as it exited the location.  Did someone pass away due to the shooting?  Prosecutors are likely to pursue homicide charges.

No matter how serious your case is, the criminal defense lawyers at Van Severen Law Office can help.  We regularly defend individuals facing serious charges, such as Class A felonies that could send them to prison for the rest of their lives.  We recognize that your charges are also serious and we’re prepared to help.  Contact our criminal defense attorneys at (414) 270-0202 to schedule a free consultation today.

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Section 941.20(3) of the Wisconsin Statutes – Endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon.

Section 941.20(3) of the Wisconsin Statutes describes this crime.  Specifically, it indicates:

(a) Whoever intentionally discharges a firearm from a vehicle while on a highway, as defined in s. 340.01 (22), or on a vehicle parking lot that is open to the public under any of the following circumstances is guilty of a Class F felony:
1. The person discharges the firearm at or toward another.
2. The person discharges the firearm at or toward any building or other vehicle.

Highway” means all public ways and thoroughfares and bridges on the same. It includes the entire width between the boundary lines of every way open to the use of the public as a matter of right for the purposes of vehicular travel. It includes those roads or driveways in the state, county or municipal parks and in state forests which have been opened to the use of the public for the purpose of vehicular travel and roads or driveways upon the grounds of public schools … under the jurisdiction of the county board of supervisors, but does not include private roads or driveways as defined in sub. (46).

While our introductory paragraph mentioned that this charge applies to drive-by shootings, it’s clear after reading the statute that charges are not limited to that situation alone.  All that is required is that the defendant intentional fires from his vehicle at another person, building, or vehicle.  The defendant’s vehicle can be stationary or moving.  Finally, this crime is not applicable to situations involving shootings that occur from a vehicle that is on private property.  For example, if the defendant shoots from his vehicle as it is parked in a private driveway, 941.20(3) doesn’t apply.  But other charges certainly do.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1327 – Endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon: intentionally discharging a firearm from a vehicle

Jury instructions help us to understand criminal charges.  They’re typically read out loud to jurors during trials, but are useful at other points as we defend a criminal case.  One of those points is during initial consultations, when we help explain to defendants exactly what the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to sustain a conviction.  Jury instructions break crimes down into elements.  And those elements are the parts that the government must prove.  If they can’t prove it, they can’t win a case against you.

The elements of this offense are:

  • Firstly, the defendant discharged a firearm from a vehicle while on a highway.  The term “firearm” means a weapon that acts by the force of gunpowder.  To “discharge a firearm” simply means to shoot a gun.
  • Secondly, the defendant shot the gun at or toward another person, a building, or a vehicle.
  • Thirdly, the defendant shot the gun intentionally.  This requires that the defendant act with the purpose to discharge the firearm or toward another person, building, or vehicle.

While some crimes rely on negligent or reckless conduct of the defendant, you’ll quickly notice that this one relies on intentional conduct.  The defendant cannot be charged for this crime if he’s in his vehicle, on a public roadway, and the gun accidentally discharges toward another person, building, or vehicle.

A house with a bullet hole through the glass
Intentionally discharging a firearm from a vehicle is a Class F felony. The maximum penalty is 12.5 years in prison. Contact Van Severen Law at (414) 270-0202 to speak with some of Wisconsin’s best criminal defense lawyers regarding this or any other charge.

Facing criminal charges?  Call us: (414) 270-0202

Facing serious criminal charges can be incredibly intimidating.  While you’re probably focused on the worst-case scenario of what might happen to you, it’s important to remember that there’s potentially a long battle before any kind of result.  Between plea deals, pre-trial motions, and the possibility of fighting your charges at trial, there are many important issues we need to address before worrying too much about the worst case.

Van Severen Law Office, S.C. is a criminal defense law firm based in Milwaukee, WI.  We have offices throughout Wisconsin, allowing us to more-effectively represent individuals facing charges in all corners of the state.  No matter where you’re facing firearms charges, we can help.

Finally, we offer free consultations to potential clients seeking the services of our firm.  Contact us at (414) 270-0202 and let’s start talking about your case.

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