For residents of West Bend, any criminal charge is likely to be taken very seriously. Having said that, it may be understood that different offenses carry with them various penalties. Most may be familiar with the terms “felony” and “misdemeanor,” and recognize that these offenses differ. In the simplest terms, Section 939.60 of the Wisconsin state statutes says that felonies are offenses punishable by imprisonment, while all others are considered to be misdemeanors. There are, however, distinctions within these classes of offenses, and even a third category of crimes many may not know about.
According to state law, one can also be convicted of different classes of forfeiture. These offenses are those punishable by fines only. The categories of forfeitures (and their accompanying fines) are as follows:
- Class E: Fine not to exceed $25
- Class D: Fine not to exceed $200
- Class C: Fine not to exceed $500
- Class B: Fine not to exceed $1,000
- Class A: Fine not to exceed $10,000
Misdemeanors carry with them fines as well as the potential for imprisonment. They are broken down into three classes (A-C) with penalties such as fines up to $500 and 30 days imprisonment for Class C offenses, and fines of up to $10,000 and 9 months imprisonment for Class A crimes.
One might classify felonies as an extension of misdemeanor offenses, only with stiffer penalties (with fines up to $100,000 or lifelong prison terms). Indeed, these two event categories often blend in certain cases. Information from U.S. Department of Justice shows the total combined number of violent and property crimes in the state of Wisconsin for 2014 to be 136,952. Whether each would have been classified as a felony or misdemeanor depends upon the unique circumstances of each case.