A criminal defense charge is a complex problem with a complex solution. Those arrested with criminal charges in Wisconsin face a series of procedures ranging from court hearings to prison sentences. The incident may be clear, but the outlook of future possible punishment is less straightforward.
Wisconsin State Legislature maintains that an individual can be convicted of either the crime charged or an included crime, but not both. An included crime is one that is found within a larger, more serious crime. A crime charged is a formal accusation of a criminal charge. There are many directions each of these charges can take, and often include factors such as basis for evidence and type of criminal charge.
Crucial steps are taken to ensure that those convicted are, in fact, the same individuals who committed the crime. According to the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, criminal charges usually occur in one of two ways:
- A law enforcement officer makes an arrest on probable cause
- A district attorney files a criminal complaint before the person charged (the defendant) is in custody
Regardless of the origin of the crime, an arrest results in a referral to the district attorney’s office. An attorney represents the state of Wisconsin and makes the final decision on whether the person is charged with the crime. From here, the attorney can alert the circuit court of a criminal complaint, which is then used to formally initiate criminal charges. After the convicted individual’s appearance, preliminary investigation takes place. This examination can result in a plea bargain, trial and sentencing, or dismissal of charges.