Outlining Differences Between Felonies And Misdemeanors in Wisconsin

Posted by Attorney Stangl on November 5, 2013


Although criminal offenses are ultimately broken down into a number of separate categories based on the nature of the crime itself, the initial classification of a crime falls between one of two categories: felonies and misdemeanors.

Although the standards of classification are similar from state-to-state, the key-differentiating factor for Wisconsin crimes is the potential length of incarceration that would result from a conviction as well as the type of facility they would be housed in.

Let’s take a deeper look into the differences between the two kinds of crimes and what kind of consequences can result from conviction.

Felonies in Wisconsin

A felony according to Wisconsin law, is a crime whose punishment could potentially result in a jail term of one year or longer. On top of this, crimes that fall within this category are assigned sentences within the Wisconsin State Prison System rather than in a county jail.

Within the broad category of felonies, crimes are further divided into a series of nine classes delineated by alphabetical titles. Class A felonies, for instance, represent the most severe punishments given in Wisconsin. Penalties include a lifetime sentence with further stipulations for repeat offenders and those with specific criminal records.

The following is a list of felony classes along with their corresponding penalties. For instances of repeat offences or prior criminal records, contact an attorney to better understand what specific penalties may be possible.

  • Class A: life in prison

  • Class B: imprisonment up to 60 years

  • Class C: fine of up to $100,000 or imprisonment up to 40 years, or both

  • Class D: fine of up to $100,000 or imprisonment up to 25 years, or both

  • Class E: fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment up to 15 years, or both

  • Class F: fine of up to $25,000 or imprisonment up to 12 years, or both

  • Class G: fine of up to $25,000 or imprisonment up to 10 years, or both

  • Class H: fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment up to 6 years, or both

  • Class I: fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment up to 3 ½ years, or both

Misdemeanors in Wisconsin

A misdemeanor in Wisconsin is any crime not punishable by imprisonment in the Wisconsin State Prison System. With such a wide swatch of crimes falling under this category, it’s important to know that some misdemeanors may result in incarceration at a county jail facility.

Similar to felonies, misdemeanors are also divided further into classes A, B, and C. Class A misdemeanors can result in fines up to $10,000, imprisonment up to 9 months or a combination of the two. A Class B misdemeanor carries a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to 90 days or both. Lastly, Class C misdemeanors carry a fine of up to $500, imprisonment of up to 30 days, or both.

What other consequences come with felonies and misdemeanors?

In addition to fines and imprisonment, a felony or misdemeanor conviction may carry with it additional penalties depending on the nature of the crime and your prior criminal record.

A major difference between felonies and misdemeanors is the forfeiture of civil liberties. If convicted of a felony, you also forfeit your second amendment rights, the right to vote, and the ability to hold office or serve on a jury.

Other notable consequences include the loss of passport eligibility when convicted of a drug offense, loss of drivers license, exclusion from public housing, and loss of Medicaid or food stamp eligibility among others.

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