Taking hostages is a 60 year felony in Wisconsin.  Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately for help: (414) 270-0202

Taking hostages is an incredibly serious felony in Wisconsin.  This charge is a Class B felony, meaning it’s the second-most serious criminal charge in the state.  A Class B felony carries a maximum penalty of 60 years in prison, $100,000.00 in fines, or both.  Taking hostages is a similar crime to kidnapping, which is only a Class C felony.

The criminal defense lawyers at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. regularly defend individuals facing serious, felony-level offenses throughout Wisconsin.  We’ve quickly gained a reputation as criminal defense lawyers ready to go to trial and ready to win cases for our clients.  Our regular practice includes many violent felonies, such as taking hostages.

Contact us at (414) 270-0202 to set up a free consultation with any of our criminal defense attorneys.

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What is taking hostages?  Wis. Stat. section 940.305

Section 940.305 of the Wisconsin Statutes specifically prohibits taking hostages.  The law says:

(1)  Except as provided in sub. (2), whoever by force or threat of imminent force seizes, confines or restrains a person without the person’s consent and with the intent to use the person as a hostage in order to influence a person to perform or not to perform some action demanded by the actor is guilty of a Class B felony.
(2) Whoever commits a violation specified under sub. (1) is guilty of a Class C felony if, before the time of the actor’s arrest, each person who is held as a hostage is released without bodily harm.
The statute makes clear that the taking hostages law focuses on the same kind of conduct we see in movies and on television.  The law requires that the defendant take the hostage for the purpose of someone else either doing or not doing something.  For example, the defendant could demand that he be allowed to leave the location of a robbery.  Or as we see in movies, he could demand that law enforcement produce a vehicle for him to leave.  Demanding these things from police based on the defendant’s seizure of other individuals is what the law focuses on.
Finally, subsection (2) reduces the offense level of this charge to a Class C felony if the defendant releases the hostages (without bodily harm) and prior to his arrest.  A Class C felony is punishable by 40 years in prison – so while this reduction certainly helps, the defendant still faces a significant penalty.  Importantly, this reduction doesn’t apply if the police are able to grab the hostages before arresting the defendant.  Instead, it requires an affirmative action on behalf of the defendant actually releasing the hostages.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1278 – taking a hostage

Although titled “taking a hostage” and not “taking hostages,” Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1278 describes the crime prohibited by section 940.305 of the Wisconsin Statutes.  In other words, we’re all talking about the same offense.  The instructions provide:

  • Firstly, the defendant seized, confined, or restrained a victim.
  • Secondly, the defendant seized, confined, or restrained the victim without his consent.
  • Thirdly, the defendant seized, confined, or restrained the victim forcibly.
  • Fourthly, the defendant seized, confined, or restrained the victim with intent to use the victim as a hostage in order to influence a person to perform (or not perform) some action demanded by the defendant.
  • Next, the defendant demanded by conduct or statements that another person perform or not perform some action.
  • And finally, the defendant did not release the victim without bodily harm prior to the defendant’s arrest.

Importantly, the final jury instruction is not required if the defendant faces the Class C felony version of the offense.

Jury instructions are incredibly important to understand while fighting criminal charges – and this applies whether you’re the defendant or a criminal defense attorney looking to our website for guidance.  In order to sustain a conviction against the defendant, the government must prove each of the listed elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  If they cannot succeed doing that, they cannot sustain a conviction against the defendant.
A woman's arms are bound during a taking a hostage situation
Taking hostages charges in Wisconsin are incredibly serious. Frequently, they’re even more serious than the charges from the underlying situation (for example, basic robbery is only a Class E felony.) Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. at (414) 270-0202 for immediate help.

How do we defend taking a hostage charges?

All criminal cases are different, and therefore all require slightly different defenses.  For example, the way we defend a simple disorderly conduct misdemeanor is a whole lot different than how we’d defend a taking a hostage case.  Additionally, describing how we’d defend a specific case is impossible to do on a general website describing a charge.

Typically when defending any charge, our criminal defense lawyers will begin with comparing the facts of the case to the jury instructions.  Are there weaknesses?  Where we find weakness, there’s the possibility of crafting a defense.  Does it make sense to focus our defense on challenging one of the elements and arguing actual innocence?  Does the government rely on questionable, dishonest witnesses to prove its case against you?  Witness credibility is an important factor to consider when defending any criminal charge.

Does something in your case lead us to the possibility of filing pre-trial motions?  Motions request the court make a decision based on the law.  For example, if the government executed a search warrant in your case, and we believe it’s faulty, we may request that the court suppress evidence against you.  Motions and their remedies are all based on precedent, or older law that came before your case.

Finally, you have the option to fight your charges at trial.  At trial, the government must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If we can succeed in showing that there is indeed a reasonable doubt, you cannot be found guilty of the offenses you’re fighting.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. for help defending any criminal charges

Facing serious criminal charges encourages the assistance of a serious criminal defense attorney.  At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., our criminal defense lawyers (and firm generally) are regularly recognized as the best in Wisconsin.  Our constant dedication to learning the law, providing guidance to our clients, and fighting the government quickly earned us this reputation.

Paired with this reputation, we truly believe in helping individuals in tough situations.  And that’s one of the reasons we offer free consultations to potential clients seeking representation.  During a free consultation you’ll have the opportunity to sit down and speak with one of our lawyers about your case, possible defenses, and whether our firm is a match.

Contact us at (414) 270-0202 and let’s start fighting your case together.

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