Wisconsin three strikes law could result in life in prison without the possibility of parole
While it isn’t frequently publicized, Wisconsin, like many other states, has a “three strikes” law that allows for a significant maximum penalty for certain offenders. In this blog post we’ll explain Wisconsin’s law, how it applies, and the maximum penalty that the defendant faces upon conviction.
If you face charges for any criminal offense, it makes sense to hire a top criminal defense lawyer for representation. At Van Severen Law Office our criminal defense attorneys understand all the intricacies of criminal defense. We’ve defended individuals facing Class A felony charges, so we’ve certainly faced situations just like yours. Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and let’s figure out how to fight your case.
Wis. Stat. sec. 939.62 – increased penalty for habitual criminality
Section 939.62 of the Wisconsin Statutes deals with increased penalties for habitual criminals. But subsection (2m) deals with Wisconsin’s three strikes law.
Section 939.62(2m)(a) describes the charges that fall under Wisconsin’s three strikes law:
- Sexual assault of a child, engaging in repeated acts of sexual assault of the same child, sexual exploitation of a child, trafficking of a child, causing a child to view or listen to sexual activity, incest with a child, child enticement, soliciting a child for prostitution, patronizing a child, sexual assault of a child placed in substitute care, sexual assault of a child by a school staff person or a person who works or volunteers with children, abduction of another’s child, interference with custody by parent or others (if the child was a minor and the defendant wasn’t the child’s parent.
- Any crime under federal or state law comparable to those listed above.
“Serious felonies” including:
- “Serious felonies” including manufacturing, distributing, or delivering a controlled substance, possession with intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver a controlled substance, or conspiracy to commit either of the above-listed offenses – so long as the maximum penalty is a prison term of 30 years or more.
- Possessing materials for manufacturing methamphetamine.
- Homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle or firearm, operating vehicle without owner’s consent causing great bodily harm, operating vehicle without owner’s consent causing death, solicitation of a child to commit a Class A or B felony.
- First-degree intentional homicide, first degree reckless homicide, felony murder, second-degree intentional homicide, partial-birth abortion, substantial or aggravated battery with intent to cause great bodily harm, intentional physical abuse of an elder person causing great bodily harm, mayhem, first degree sexual assault, second degree sexual assault, taking hostages, kidnapping, tampering with household products causing death of another, arson, burglary, robbery, assault by prisoners, physical abuse of a child, use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, solicitation.
- Solicitation, conspiracy, or attempt to commit a Class A felony.
That is the list of crimes. So what now?
This certainly is a substantial list of serious crimes. What happens if the defendant has these charges on his record?
The defendant must qualify as a “persistent repeater” before falling under the three strikes law. The defendant is a persistent repeater if:
- The actor has been convicted of a serious felony on 2 or more separate occasions at any time preceding the serious felony for which he or she presently is being sentenced … which convictions remain of record and unreversed and, of the 2 or more previous convictions, at least one conviction occurred before the date of violation of at least one of the other felonies for which the actor was previously convicted.
- The actor has been convicted of a serious child sex offense on at least one occasion at any time preceding the date of violation of the serious child sex offense for which he or she presently is being sentenced … which conviction remains of record and unreversed.
Importantly, it does not matter whether the defendant actually served any kind of prison sentence for his prior offenses. The law makes clear that even in the situation where the defendant was previously on probation, he can qualify as a persistent repeater (Wis. Stat. sec. 939.62(2m)(bm)).
Life in prison under three strikes laws
The defendant committed two of the listed felonies previously. Neither of those convictions was appealed and reversed. And finally, at least one of those felonies happened prior to the current offense. In this situation, the defendant satisfies the requirements for the three strikes law.
Let’s consider another example. The defendant committed first-degree sexual assault of a child in 2002. In 2022 he is charged with second-degree sexual assault of a child. Because serious child sex offenses simply require one prior act, for the new case the defendant satisfies the requirements for three (in this case it’s two) strikes law.
The new felony maximum penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. That means the defendant will spend the rest of his life in prison. He will never get out. He will never go on extended supervision or parole.
How do our defense attorneys deal with the three strikes law?
This is certainly not the scenario you want to mess around with. You don’t want to hire the cheap hack criminal defense attorney that splits his time doing family law. Certainly a criminal defense specialist, specifically one with extensive trial experience, is what you need. And you’ll find plenty of attorneys matching that description at Van Severen Law Office.
Why these requirements? You are going to prison forever if convicted. There is no benefit to plea to your case charged. Going to trial almost becomes a necessity, no matter how bad your case might appear. Even if you lose trial, your maximum penalty will not increase.
While this doesn’t mean a plea is out of the question, that plea should only occur if the government agrees to remove the three strikes enhancer. Once that occurs your fate is no longer guaranteed, but instead allows your criminal defense attorney to argue for a more mitigated sentence. Anything is certainly better than life in prison.
Contact Van Severen Law Office immediately for felony representation
While we’re obviously talking about a very aggravated situation, it’s important that you hire a top criminal defense attorney when facing any kind of a felony charge. The criminal defense lawyers at Van Severen Law Office provide representation ranging from misdemeanors, through Class I felonies, through the most serious Class A felonies. Even though you can always find a cheaper attorney, it’s crucial in a situation like this to hire the very best in Wisconsin.
Contact Van Severen Law Office at (414) 270-0202. We’ll set you up to meet with one of our criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation. At that free consultation we’ll begin planning your defense and go from there.