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Homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire cases are serious.  Contact our aggressive defense attorneys to start fighting your case.

Homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire cases are serious.  Frequently prosecutors simply refer to these charges as homicide by negligent handling of a firearm.  While still accurate, this charge less-frequently deals with explosives or fire.  But that makes sense – plenty more gun crime occurs than firearm or explosive crime.

Homicide by negligent handling of a firearm is a Class G felony, meaning it carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.  That ten years in prison breaks into 5 years of initial confinement and 5 year extended supervision.  Finally, upon conviction you face a fine of up to $25,000.00 in prison.

Finally, at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. our criminal defense attorney aggressively fight all homicide charges.  Whether you’re facing first degree intentional homicide charges, homicide by negligent handling of a firearm, or anything in between, we can help.  Call us at (414) 270-0202 and let’s start fighting your case.  Our criminal defense attorneys are available 24/7 to speak with you.


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What is “homicide by negligent handling of dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire”?

Section 940.08 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire.  The law says:

(1) Except as provided in sub. (3), whoever causes the death of another human being by the negligent operation or handling of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire is guilty of a Class G felony.

(2) Whoever causes the death of an unborn child by the negligent operation or handling of a dangerous weapon, explosives or fire is guilty of a Class G felony.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to a health care provider acting within the scope of his or her practice or employment.

Firstly, it’s important to point out that health care providers cannot be charged in this section so long as the homicide occurs within the scope of his or her practice.  While it’s certainly easy to see why the legislature framed the law this way, it’s also a little concerning.  Negligent health care providers who cause the death of their patients cannot be criminally charged here.  Alternatively, the law allows for medical malpractice suits to cover this apparent gap in the law.

Secondly, the law allows for prosecution of the homicide of an unborn child.  This charge is a Class G felony in both circumstances.


What are the elements of this offense?

Crimes in Wisconsin have elements that need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  An element is a part of the offense.  Unless prosecutors can prove all those parts, the government must dismiss the charges against you.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1175 provides the elements of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon:

  1. The defendant operated or handled a dangerous weapon.
  2. The defendant operated or handled a dangerous weapon in a manner constituting criminal negligence.
  3. The defendant’s operation or handling of a dangerous weapon in a manner constituting criminal negligence caused the death of the victim.

At the beginning of this article you may have questioned how a homicide charge results in just 10 years in prison.  Now that we explained the elements of this offense, hopefully that answer is becoming more clear.  This isn’t the kind of case where the prosecution believes the defendant intended to kill the victim.  They’re simply alleging the defendant created an unreasonable, negligent risk.  And finally, that risk led to the death of the victim.

Important definitions:

But to completely understand what’s going on here, it’s important that we explore some definitions.

Dangerous weapon means any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded.  A firearm is a weapon that acts by the force of gunpowder.  It also means any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm.  Dangerous weapon is also defined as any device or instrumentality which, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is likely to produce death or great bodily harm.  Finally, dangerous weapon is defined as any electric weapon.  An electric weapon is a device designed or used to immobilize or incapacitate a person by the use of electric current.

Great bodily harm means serious bodily injury.

Criminal negligence is certainly an important concept.  It has certain elements that also need to be proven:

  • The defendant’s operation or handling of a dangerous weapon created a risk of death or great bodily harm; and
  • The risk of death or great bodily harm was unreasonable and substantial; and
  • The defendant should have been aware that his operation or handling of a dangerous weapon created the unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm.

When determining whether the defendant’s actions constituted criminal negligence, we must consider the three listed elements.


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Homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon is a felony in Wisconsin. Contact our criminal defense attorneys at (414) 270-0202 for help.

Why should I contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C. to defend my homicide by negligent use of a dangerous weapon case?

Firstly, you’re facing a homicide charge.  And while it’s a lower-level felony offense, a felony conviction will impact the rest of your life.  And it’ll do so substantially.  Hiring a top criminal defense attorney to aggressively fight your case will have an impact on the result.

Remember: any attorney out there will take your money. But are they truly a great match?  Do you really want to go into battle with him or her?  At Meyer Van Severen, S.C. our criminal defense attorneys are specialists.  This is the only kind of work we do.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and let’s start fighting your case.