Possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 is a serious misdemeanor in Wisconsin

While this charge isn’t a felony, possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 is a Class A misdemeanor.  The highest level misdemeanor in Wisconsin, this charge carries a maximum penalty of 9 months in jail, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.  Possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 made the news frequently in 2021, as Kenosha County prosecutors pursued Kyle Rittenhouse for the charge.  Eventually the judge in that case dismissed the charge, as defense attorneys argued that the facts of that case didn’t match the facts presented at trial.

Firearm charges are incredibly serious.  Frequently in places like Milwaukee County (and other urban centers throughout Wisconsin), prosecutors seek unreasonable sentences that call for lengthy sentences including jail.

At Van Severen Law Office, our criminal defense attorneys regularly defend individuals facing firearms charges.  We’ve represented serious felony firearms charges like recklessly endangering safety, and misdemeanor charges such as CCW or this charge.  No matter the gun charge you’re fighting, our criminal defense attorneys are prepared to help.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and let’s schedule a free consultation.

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Section 948.60(2)(a) of the Wisconsin Statutes

Section 948.60(2)(a) of the Wisconsin Statutes describes possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.  Sometimes CCAP records refer to this charge as “Possess Dangerous Weapon-Person < 18.”

The law indicates:

(a) Any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

While there aren’t any pre-drafted elements for the charge, breaking this statute down certainly isn’t that difficult.  The government needs to prove:

  • Firstly, the defendant is under the age of 18 years old; and
  • Secondly, the defendant possessed or went armed with a dangerous weapon.

The Kyle Rittenhouse exception

At the close of evidence in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, defense attorneys successfully argued that evidence presented during trial didn’t match the crime.  Specifically they focused on the length of the firearm involved in the case.  Defense lawyers cited section 948.60(3)(c), which states:

“This section applies only to a person under 18 years of age who possesses or is armed with a rifle or shotgun if the person is in violation of s. 941.28 or is not in compliance with ss. 29.304 and 29.593…”

Firstly, section 941.28 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits possession of a short-barreled shotgun or rifle.  Defense attorneys in that trial established that the firearm involved did not have a short barrel.  Secondly, Rittenhouse himself discussed his hunter safety training, satisfying both sections 29.593 an 29.304.  Although the media described this as a “loophole,” it was simple.  A crime is not committed when the firearm is of sufficient length and the minor has specific training.

Finally, this is clearly a successful way to defend this charge.  But how else does a good criminal defense attorney beat your case?

A minor points a firearm
Possession of a firearm while under 18 is a crime in Wisconsin. Contact our defense attorneys immediately for help.

Possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 defenses

While the previous discussion focused on a situation involving individuals observing the minor with a weapon, this certainly isn’t always the case.  Sometimes law enforcement initiates a criminal case after executing a search.  In the case of a search warrant, our defense attorneys analyze that warrant to determine whether it is sufficient.  Application for the warrant must show sufficient investigation, and must show probable cause to believe that the search will turn up evidence of a crime.  If that isn’t the case, it’s possible we’d file a motion challenging the search warrant.

In other cases, the prosecution rests its case entirely on the testimony of a witness.  Does that witness have credibility issues?  Can we show that witness lies about facts of the case?  Juries don’t like liars.  And obviously the fact that the government’s case relies on the testimony of a liar has the potential to create “reasonable doubt.”  That’s a win.

Is DNA in issue?  When paired with credibility, if the firearm does not have any of the defendant’s DNA, our defense is even stronger.

At Van Severen Law Office we focus on aggressive pre-trial motions and trial.  Success at either end yields a positive result for the defendant.

Contact Van Severen Law Office regarding your gun charges

Various organizations consistently recognize our firm and criminal defense attorneys as among the best in Wisconsin.  We certainly think you’ll agree after sitting down for a consultation.  During that consultation we’ll probably begin by discussing potential defenses to your charge.  If you have police reports and other materials, great.  If not, we’ll obtain those when we begin representation.  After the consultation, if we’re a good match, we’ll begin aggressively fighting your case.

We’ve won hundreds of cases for various reasons.  While every case is certainly different, we’d like to win yours too.

Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and let’s start talking about your case.

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