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What are felony classifications and penalties in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, crimes that are punishable by a sentence of imprisonment in the state prison are considered to be felonies. Other crimes are considered to be misdemeanors. Felonies are broken into nine classifications within the state statutes; classifications are labeled A through I.

In most cases, the classification of the felony will be included in the charge. Because the various classifications have differing maximum consequences, it's essential for anyone facing a criminal defense situation to understand the levels. According to Wisconsin state statutes, a Class A felony carries a penalty of life in prison. A Class I felony carries a maximum sentence of 3 years and six months in prison, or a maximum fine of $10,000 or both.

Penalties grow more serious as you move from I to A. For example, a Class F felony carries a maximum sentence of 12 years and six months in prison, a maximum fine of $25,000 or both. A Class B felony, on the other hand, carries a maximum sentence of 60 years. Within each classification, specific crimes may also impact how sentencing occurs should a person be convicted of charges.

Because the level of felony charge has such a great impact on sentencing, criminal defense strategy may be to work toward a reduction in charges. Deciding whether to seek a complete dismissal of charges or to work with a prosecutor on reducing charges is a big step for any defendant and one that should not be made lightly. By working with someone knowledgeable about the Wisconsin court system--and who may already have relationships with prosecutors--defendants may be able to increase the chance of the most positive outcome in a case.

Source: Wisconsin State Legislature, "Classification of felonies" Dec. 23, 2014

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