Second degree reckless homicide defense – Van Severen Law Office

Second degree reckless homicide is the most mitigated homicide charge in Wisconsin.  Although that’s certainly the case, it doesn’t change the fact that these charges are incredibly serious.  Second degree reckless homicide is a Class D felony and carries 25 years in prison, a $100,000.00 fine, or both.  The government prosecutes this charge in situations involving the defendant recklessly causing the death of another.

25 years sounds a lot better than life.  But the maximum initial confinement for a Class D felony is 15 years in prison.  Paired with that is 10 years of extended supervision.  A conviction for an offense like this will result in a very serious penalties.

At Van Severen Law Office our criminal defense attorneys focus on providing the very best criminal defense in Wisconsin.  We regularly defend cases involving murder, manslaughter, and homicide.  Further, we dedicate 100% of our practice to criminal defense.  We don’t handle any family law, business, or other cases that won’t help your criminal case.  If you face charges for any crime, especially second degree reckless homicide, call us at (414) 270-0202.

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What is second-degree reckless homicide?

Although first-degree reckless homicide can include varied allegations, second-degree reckless homicide involves two different versions.  The first version involves the murder of another adult.  The second version involves the murder of an unborn child.  No matter whether the murder involves a child or an adult, the penalty if a Class D felony.

As far as statutory definitions are concerned, the difference between the two homicide charges is simple.  First degree requires the defendant acted with utter disregard for human life.  Second degree reckless homicide does not require the actor commit the crime with utter disregard for human life.  The lower requirement certainly requires less of a hurdle for the government moving forward.

Elements of the offense:

All criminal offenses have elements, or parts.  The government must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1060 provides the elements of second degree reckless homicide:

  • The defendant caused the death of another person (or unborn child);
  • The defendant caused the death by criminally reckless conduct.

The term “unborn child” is defined in the Wisconsin Statutes.  Although it might be obvious, an unborn child is defined as “Any individual of the human species from fertilization until birth that is gestating inside a woman.”

“Cause” is another term defined by the statutes.  Cause simply means that the defendant’s act was a substantial factor in producing the death of the victim.

“Criminally reckless conduct” is a term that contains its own elements.  Those elements require:

  • The conduct created a risk of death or great bodily harm to the victim;
  • The risk of death or great bodily harm was unreasonable and substantial; and
  • The defendant was aware that his conduct created the unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm.

No utter disregard for human life?  The main difference between the first and second degree versions of this murder charge focus on this very issue.  Frequently prosecutors will charge second degree if they don’t believe they can show the defendant acted without disregard for human life.

A homicide scene
Second degree reckless homicide is a serious felony charge in Wisconsin. Hire a criminal defense attorney from Van Severen Law Office for help: (414) 270-0202.

Potential motions in your homicide case

Motion practice is one of the most important parts of defending a criminal case.  In fact, we’d go as far as to say that frequently cases are won and lost based on pretrial motions.

And one of the most frequent issues we have in homicide cases involves statements made by the defendant.  Did the police tell you they’d take it easy on you if you cooperated?  Unfortunately, police officers can lie during investigations.  And if you’ve been charged with second degree reckless homicide, it’s clear they didn’t take it easy on you.  That all being said, we review your case to see if police unfairly compelled your statements.  We also review your case to determine whether police properly administered Miranda warnings.  If they didn’t, there might be a way for us to keep your statement out at trial.  And that could certainly help us win your trial.

Finally, frequently second degree homicide cases involve search warrants.  We need to determine whether the affidavits in supports of the search warrants support their issuance.  Without a showing that the government has probable cause to believe they will find evidence of the crime, that search warrant might be defective.

What if the media calls?

Frequently the media gets involved in cases they deem sensational.  Unfortunately, high stakes cases like homicide or sexual assault frequently attract the attention of media.  The media is simply looking to exploit your case for their own ratings.  But this is important to you for a few reasons.

Upon the media contacting you, your first reaction may be that you want to explain the situation.  It is crucial that you do not do this.  Statements made to the media, or the public, don’t receive constitutional protection.  Once those statements leave your mouth, we cannot take them back.  And they’re certainly going to be used against you.  Equally important: your family.  Family members should not give a statement, put out a press release, or interview with the media prior to speaking with your criminal defense attorney.

And finally, how do we deal with the attention?  While inexperienced criminal defense attorneys might have an issue with the attention, we simply deflect it.  Our job isn’t to give the news what it wants.  Our job is to protect you.

Why Van Severen Law Office for murder defense?

Second-degree reckless homicide cases often involve complex issues.  Sometimes the defendant makes statements to police.  If those statements were made while subject to custodial interrogation and police didn’t provide a Miranda warning, your criminal defense attorney may be able to keep those statements out of trial.  Often complex manslaughter cases involve medical reports that your attorney needs to understand.

At Van Severen Law Office we continually challenge illegal police conduct.  We’re not afraid to fight your murder case all the way to jury trial.  Not all criminal defense attorneys have the confidence, intelligence, and aggression to fight your case.  But we do.  Contact our firm at (414) 270-0202 to speak with one of our criminal defense attorneys regarding your case.

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