Falsely pulling a fire alarm is a Class A misdemeanor in Wisconsin.  Contact our criminal defense law firm for help: (414) 270-0202

While it might seem like “just a prank,” falsely pulling a fire alarm is a serious criminal offense in Wisconsin.  And although not a felony, this charge is a Class A misdemeanor.  The maximum penalty you face upon a conviction is 9 months in jail, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.  A prison sentence is not possible if you’re facing this criminal charge.  If you’re over 25 years old at the time you commit the offense, you’re not eligible for expunction, so this conviction will remain on your record for the rest of your life.

A negative mark on your permanent criminal record for a prank doesn’t sound like a good time.  The criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. recognize that.  We’ve spent our entire careers helping individuals address criminal charges in ways that help them move forward with their lives.  If you’re looking to fight your charges at trial, we can help.  But if you’re simply looking to accept responsibility in a way that won’t derail your entire life, we’re also prepared to help you.  We’re here to support your goals and to figure out if obtaining them is a reasonable expectation.

We offer free consultations to potential clients.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 to begin speaking with our firm about how we can help.

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Section 941.13 of the Wisconsin Statutes – False alarms

Section 941.13 of the Wisconsin Statutes is titled “false alarms.”  Although this title may not match your criminal complaint (and we’ll see that it doesn’t match the jury instructions), this section applies to illegally pulling a fire alarm.  The law says:

False alarms. Whoever intentionally gives a false alarm to any public officer or employee, whether by means of a fire alarm system or otherwise, is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

You’ll quickly notice that the false alarms statute doesn’t only cover fire alarms.  Instead, the statute covers all false alarms made to a public officer or employee.  This could include a verbal false alarm in certain circumstances.  Communicating a warning to a police officer that there is a fire where there is not qualifies under this statute.

Section 939.22(30) of the Wisconsin Statutes defines “public officer” and “public employee.”

  • public officer is any person appointed or elected according to law to discharge a public duty for the state or one of its subordinate governmental units.
  • public employee is any person, not an officer, who performs any official function on behalf of the state or one of its subordinate governmental units and who is paid from the public treasury of the state or subordinate governmental unit.

This brings up an important point: it’s only a crime to verbally communicate a false fire alarm to specific, government-connected entities.  If the defendant is in a non-governmental building and tells the manager of that building that there’s a fire, there wouldn’t be charges within this section.  While that’s the case, charges for something like disorderly conduct could certain still apply.

A fire alarm inside of a building
Falsely pulling a fire alarm is a crime in Wisconsin. Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. at (414) 270-0202 if you’re facing this misdemeanor. We can help.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1316 – Giving a false alarm

Jury instructions are tools used by courts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the public.  They help us by breaking down criminal charges into separate parts, or elements.  Importantly, in order to sustain a conviction against the defendant, the government must prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1316 provides the three elements of this offense:

  • Firstly, the defendant gave an alarm to a public officer or public employee by means of fire alarm system or otherwise.
  • Secondly, the alarm was false.
  • Thirdly, the defendant intentionally gave the false alarm.  Intentionally requires that the defendant acted with the mental purpose to give a false alarm to a public officer or public employee.  It further requires that the defendant knew that the person was a public officer or public employee and knew the alarm was a false alarm.

These elements are simple: the defendant gave an alarm, it was false, and the defendant acted intentionally.

How can a criminal defense attorney help falsely pulling a fire alarm charges?

As we discussed before, your goals are important.

If you’re looking to fight your charges at trial, our criminal defense attorneys have a significant amount of experience defending individuals fighting their charges in front of a jury (or court, in a court trial).  Sometimes on the way to trial, our criminal defense attorneys discover some sort of legal or constitutional issue that leads to a pre-trial motion.  Successfully arguing a motion leads to plenty of different results – in the most favorable situation, certain motions lead to a dismissal of charges against the defendant.  In others, a motion could simply put the defendant in a better situation to defend his charges.  Motions can lead to the government being able to use less evidence against you.

If you’re not looking to proceed to trial, our goal is to reduce your charges and penalties to the lowest possible point.  Sometimes this includes resolutions to ordinance violations (which aren’t crimes and won’t require you to report that you’ve been convicted of a crime).  Sometimes that includes probation rather than jail.  And in other situations, that includes the government joining the defense to request that the court allow for future expunction of the charges.  Figuring out which of these goals applies to you is certainly something that we encourage you to discuss with our criminal defense lawyers at your initial consultation.

Charged for falsely pulling a fire alarm?  Contact us for help: (414) 270-0202

Fighting criminal charges on your own can be scary.  That fear lessens when there is a strong ally standing at your side.  Our criminal defense attorneys have fought for thousands of clients facing a variety of criminal charges.  Our firm focuses 100% of its resources on criminal defense.  We’re certainly prepared to help you through your charges.

The next step is up to you: we can’t help you unless you call.  But we make that easy.  Obviously your phone call is free, but we go a step further: your first meeting with one of our criminal defense lawyers is free.  During that meeting you’ll have the chance to discuss the facts of your case, your concerns, and any questions you have.  You’ll have the opportunity to get to know one of our lawyers before deciding whether or not you’d like to hire.  This meeting is called a free consultation, and we offer it to all potential clients.

Finally, our phone number is (414) 270-0202.  Calls are answered at all hours, all days of the week.  Contact us now.

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