In Wisconsin, causing the death of another person with a gun or a car may be a criminal offense. If alcohol or drugs (intoxicants) are also involved, the penalty for that offense may be harsher. Section 940.09 of the Wisconsin Statutes describes what is legally relevant in criminal cases where intoxicants were involved in a car or gun incident and a death occurs.
If you’ve been arrested for or charged with crimes under this statute, you need legal assistance now.
Let's explore these charges in more detail so you can make the most of your time when consulting with an attorney:
What to do first if you are arrested for homicide in Wisconsin
The first thing to remember: don’t panic. There is help available.
The law takes into account many factors that might be significant in your case. Your job is to share all your information honestly with your lawyer.
Your lawyer's job is to investigate, collect and present all relevant information appropriately and correctly to the Judge. A well-presented case may reduce or eliminate your responsibility for what happened, or reduce the level of penalty if you are convicted.
Keep these thoughts in mind as you prepare for your first meeting with the attorney:
Accidents do happen
There is a difference between “intentionally taking a life” and “accidently causing a death”.
Every legal case has its own set of facts that require careful review. Even in cases where a death occurs, there are circumstances that eliminate holding another person accountable for it.
Sometimes the person accused has a viable excuse as to why they aren’t criminally responsible; sometimes the accused can prove that they were justified in taking the actions that resulted in the death.
You won’t know what the facts mean in your case until you’ve discussed them thoroughly with your lawyer.
Clean evidence matters in homicide cases
There are particular, constitutionally-required actions that law enforcement must follow to pursue a criminal case and gain a conviction. Their failure to follow those processes may result in having the case tossed out of court.
Careful review of all law enforcement activities is especially important in cases that involve intoxicant evidence.
The collection of intoxicant evidence in a homicide case
Police must demonstrate two things:
- that the accused was illegally intoxicated at the time of the incident, and
- that the intoxication contributed to the cause of death.
To prove ‘intoxication’, the blood of the accused must have contained an illegal level of the substance when the incident occurred.
To secure a conviction, law enforcement must properly collect, record and manage that ‘blood intoxicant level’ information through to trial.
Their failure to do so might render such information as ‘not credible’ and therefore, inadmissible in court.
Some drugs are only detectable by individual tests. Medical personnel must correctly perform those tests and record the results for the findings to become legally significant. Law enforcement errors anywhere in these processes may play in your favor.
The volume of intoxicant in the blood
Police use a number of tests to determine the volume of intoxicant in the blood at the time of the incident.
It is acceptable to have a limited amount of some substances in the blood; if the level detected is below this standard, then its presence would not trigger this type of criminal charge.
The volume of blood intoxicants, both alcohol and drug types, will dissipate over time, so the exact time when the sample was retrieved is also significant.
The type of intoxicant in the blood
Often there are acceptable reasons for the presence of some intoxicants in the blood. Many medications that are classified as “intoxicants” are appropriately prescribed by a doctor.
There may be reasons why you appeared to be intoxicated when in reality, you were experiencing difficulties with your medications.
All incidental factors must be considered
It is possible that no crime occurred at all, despite the worst of outcomes (a premature, unnatural death). Each separate fact - vehicle or gun involvement; alcohol or drug involvement - is only a small piece of the overall incident.
Other factors relevant to the case might include the condition of the victim, traffic or weather conditions, even the angle of the sun. Any of these circumstances could have contributed to the incident in a way that reduces or eliminates your criminal liability for the death.
What to know about contacting a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney
Seeking legal advice can be stressful, especially in these circumstances. It will help both you and the attorney if you understand even a few of the factors that may be relevant to your case when you walk in the door.
Attorney Patrick Stangl provides immediate, comprehensive and compassionate legal assistance to all clients and promises a rigorous defense and full protection of their constitutional rights throughout the legal process.
Attorney Stangl's Prior Victories:
State of Wisconsin v. K.R. Polk County Case
OWI/Injury Causing Death - 5 years Imposed and Stayed Sentence; 1 Year County Jail, 5 Years Probation
State of Wisconsin v. S.B. Dane County Case
Causing Great Bodily Injury by Intoxicated Use of a Motor Vehicle – Dismissed
State of Wisconsin v. A.B.K. Polk County
Great Bodily Injury by Intoxicated Use of Motor Vehicle - Dismissed
State of Wisconsin v. A.M. Dane County
OWI Causing Injury – PAC Dismissed, OWI Amended to Reckless Driving
State of Wisconsin v. R.B. Juneau County
Criminal OWI Causing Injury – Amended to Forfeiture Violation
State of Wisconsin v. N.K. Clark County
Reckless Endangerment/Intoxicated Use of a Firearm – Amended to Obstructing an Officer and Disorderly Conduct