What Is Intentional Homicide In Wisconsin?

Updated by Attorney Stangl on June 19, 2017

What Is Intentional Homicide In Wisconsin

Intentionally causing the death of another person is a serious criminal offense, carrying severe penalties under the law in Wisconsin.

As with any criminal charges you might be facing, it's important to thoroughly understand the charge and any potential penalties you risk if you're convicted.

If you or someone you know has been charged with intentional homicide in Wisconsin and don't know what to do from here, this article will inform you of what the charge is, what consequences you face and what possible defenses you could use with the help of an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer.

If you're facing intentional homicide charges, request a FREE 15-minute consultation at no obligation with Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney Pat Stangl to discuss your case and explore your options.

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How is Intentional Homicide classified as a crime in Wisconsin? 

In Wisconsin, intentional homicide is a Class A felony.

Unlike a felony murder, intentional homicide is more specific as it focuses on the act in which the crime was committed, the cause of the crime and the mental stability of the defendant.

Intentional homicide can also be broken off in two different categories:

  • 1st degree intentional homicide
  • 2nd degree intentional homicide

Both first-degree intentional homicide and second-degree intentional homicide are serious offenses in Wisconsin. If you're facing such charges, you should contact a proven criminal defense attorney right away.

Read the article, "Outlining Differences Between Felonies and Misdemeanors in Wisconsin" by Stangl Law to learn more.

First-degree intentional homicide in Wisconsin

First-degree intentional homicide is charged when the defendant has intent to kill the victim or intent to kill an unborn child and mother.

If the defendant had intent to kill a victim, but accidentally killed the wrong person, then under Wisconsin law the charge of first-degree intentional homicide still stands for the accidental victim.

What are the consequences of first-degree intentional homicide in Wisconsin?

Intentional homicide is considered a Class A felony in Wisconsin.

If you are convicted under the charge of first-degree intentional homicide, then you will receive a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. However, there is a chance to mitigate you charge and reduce your sentence if you can provide a good defense.

Consult a skilled Wisconsin Defense Lawyer to help ensure your best result.

Second-degree intentional homicide in Wisconsin

The second category is second degree intentional homicide. Second degree intentional homicide is charged when the defendant has just cause in killing the victim. 

Second degree intentional homicide is similar to a manslaughter charge; however Wisconsin law has erased manslaughter in rewrites of state law. The charge of second-degree homicide is also more severe than manslaughter and easier for the prosecution to get a conviction in most circumstances.

What constitutes second-degree intentional homicide in Wisconsin? 

Second-degree intentional homicide can only be charged if you have a valid reason. These reasons include:

  • Adequate provocation,
  • Unnecessary defense force,
  • Prevention of felony and coercion

Adequate Provocation

With adequate provocation you can argue that the victim provoked you into temporarily losing self-control when you normally do not thus leading to the victim’s death.

Unnecessary Defense Force

With unnecessary defense force you can argue that the victim was a threat and would have caused mortal harm to you or someone else and thus killing the victim was the only reasonable option to defend yourself.

Prevention of a Felony

With prevention of a felony, you can argue that you saw upon yourself to put an end to a felony being committed which then resulted in the victim’s death. Lastly with coercion you can argue that only you could defend yourself or someone else from impending harm from the victim, and thus you killed the victim in defense. 

To be mitigated to second-degree intentional homicide, you must admit to killing the victim. However, you have a defense and reason for doing so. It is then up to the prosecution to take on the burden of finding proof that you have no reason or defense. 

If they cannot find any proof that you have no reason or defense, then the charge will be mitigated to second-degree intentional homicide.

What are the consequences of second-degree intentional homicide in Wisconsin? 

The charge of second-degree intentional homicide is a Class B felony and if convicted under this charge you will be sentenced to a minimum incarceration of sixty years with more time added on if there are other felonies against you. 

If you're facing any homicide charge in Wisconsin or have additional questions, it's absolutely crucial to contact an experienced Madison criminal defense attorney immediately. 

FREE 15-Minute Consultation

Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney Patrick Stangl has been defending clients against charges like intentional homicide, battery, OWI and much more for over 30 years. He is happy to offer to you at no obligation a FREE 15-minute consultation to discuss your situation and explore options for your defense. Click below to request your free consultation right away.

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Examples of Attorney Stangl's Prior Case Victories:

Homicide Case Victories:

State of Wisconsin v. R.B. Marquette County

First Degree Attempted Homicide – Dismissed

State of Wisconsin v. D.P. Rock County

First Degree Intentional Homicide – Amended to Armed Robbery

State of Wisconsin v. M.M., Dane County

Attempted First Degree Homicide - Dismissed


The slightest factual circumstances or disparities can change the result obtained in any particular case. The results posted herein are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients’ cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without knowledge of the specific factual and legal circumstances of each particular case.

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