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Assisting suicide is a serious felony charge in Wisconsin.  Contact our criminal defense attorneys immediately for help with any charge involving death.

Assisting suicide is a serious felony in Wisconsin.  While the penalty is certainly not as stiff as something like intentional homicide, cases involving loss of life are always serious.  Prosecutors take them seriously and frequently request aggravated charges when another human being dies.  Certainly assisting suicide is no exception.

At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., our criminal defense attorneys regularly defend serious criminal cases involving death.  We recognize the issues required to aggressively defend your assisting suicide charges and can help.

Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202.  Our answering service answers the phone 24/7 and our criminal defense lawyers are quick to respond to inquiries.  We recognize that sometimes cases like this involve media attention, and we strive to fight at your side as quickly as possible.

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What is assisting suicide?

Assisting suicide is helping an individual to take his or her own life.  In recent years, and other jurisdictions, assisting suicide charges have been brought against ex-girlfriends and boyfriends who encouraged their partners to take their lives.  Unfortunately, cases like this can attract media attention and go viral rather quickly.

Wis. Stat. section 940.12 prohibits assisting suicide.  The law says:

Whoever with intent that another take his or her own life assists such person to commit suicide is guilty of a Class H felony.

The law is certainly pretty simple and easy to understand.  Importantly, a Class H felony carries a maximum penalty of 6 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.  While most cases don’t result in anything close to the maximum penalty, the fact that these cases involve death could aggravate the circumstances and result in a prison recommendation from the government.  This should be come as no surprise to you while fighting the case.  And this is simply a plea offer – our criminal defense attorneys approach every single case planning on fighting the case through trial.  If anything short of that occurs, it’s based on your decision.

Assisting suicide jury instruction – Wisconsin Criminal JI 1195

As you’re aware, jury instructions simply break down the statutory language of a a crime.  This helps the average person to understand exactly what they’re dealing with.  And importantly, they also provide the elements of the offense.  And elements are parts of the crime that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  If they cannot prove the elements, you cannot be convicted.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1195 provides:

  1. Firstly, an individual committed suicide; and
  2. Secondly, the defendant assisted the deceased in committing suicide; and
  3. Finally, the defendant gave assistance to the deceased with intent that the deceased take his own life.

The term suicide means the voluntary and intentional taking of one’s own life.  Assisted means the defendant helped or aided the deceased in committing suicide.  Finally, the jury instructions make clear that it is not necessary that the defendant was at the scene of the suicide when it occurred.

Firearms are sometimes involved in suicides
Providing a firearm to the deceased could lead to assisting suicide charges. Contact our criminal defense lawyers immediately for help.

How do we win an assisting suicide case?

All criminal cases are different, but there are a few general principles that apply to all criminal cases.  Firstly, are there any pre-trial motions we can file challenging police or prosecutors actions?  Assisting suicide cases might involve a search of your cell phone, computer records, or other mediums you used to contact the deceased.  Law enforcement may have obtained a warrant to search these materials, and looking into the warrant’s legality may begin to provide us some mileage.  Importantly, do not consent to any search by law enforcement.  Do not let them search your laptop, your cell phone, or anything else.  They are trying to build a case against you and are not looking to “take it easy” on you.

Secondly, you always have a right to trial.  If we can point out holes in the government’s case, that’s certainly one way of pointing out “reasonable doubt.”  If the government cannot prove its case in front of a judge or jury, you cannot be found guilty.  Fighting your case at trial is an incredibly important tool.

Assisting suicide cases in the media – Michelle Carter

On July 13, 2014, Conrad Roy III’s body was found in a pickup truck alongside a Kmart off Route 6 in Fairhaven, Roy died of carbon monoxide poisoning and police found a gasoline-operated water pump in the rear seat.  After further investigation, police found text messages between Roy and his girlfriend, Michelle Carter, encouraging Roy to commit suicide.  Some specific text messages included:

CARTER: So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then. All that for nothing. I’m just confused. Like you were so ready and determined.

CONRAD: I am gonna eventually. I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up.

CARTER: No, you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You kept pushing it off and you say you’ll do it, but you never do. It’s always gonna be that way if you don’t take action. You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off. You just have to do it. Do you want to do it now?

CARTER: So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then. All that for nothing. I’m just confused. Like you were so ready and determined.

CONRAD: I am gonna eventually. I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up.

CARTER: No, you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You kept pushing it off and you say you’ll do it, but you never do. It’s always gonna be that way if you don’t take action. You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off. You just have to do it. Do you want to do it now?

These text messages, along with other evidence, were enough for prosecutors to secure a conviction against Carter for involuntary manslaughter.  The case has become known as the “texting suicide case” in some media outlets.

Contact our criminal defense attorneys immediately for help

Finally, you must be the one to take an important step when facing assisting suicide charges: hire a top criminal defense attorney.  At our firm we hear a lot about “my uncle knows a guy who did his divorce,” which leads to representation, and almost certainly to poor representation.  Not all lawyers at the same.  At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., all we focus on is criminal defense.  And that allows us to specialize in it.  We’re good at it.  Some guy sharing office space down the block might not provide the same level of representation as a dedicated criminal defense law firm.

Once you’ve decided you need to hire a lawyer, make the move.  Waiting around for the police or a prosecutor to decide which route they’re going is a responsive tactic.  If you hire an attorney from Van Severen Law Office, S.C., we’ll quickly reach out to the government.  We’ll request all discovery materials and police reports.  And we’ll certainly start fighting for you.

Contact us immediately.  There’s no time to waste: (414) 270-0202

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