We all make mistakes, but sometimes those mistakes come with felony-level consequences. Many defendants want to accept responsibility for their actions but wish to avoid jail time. Age, medical issues, or family needs may leave many offenders worried about the collateral consequences of incarceration. In some cases, a qualified Appleton criminal defense attorney at Hogan Eickhoff might help you stay out of prison following a felony conviction. Discuss your concerns with our skilled legal advocates by calling (920) 450-9800 or contacting us online to schedule your free sentencing consultation.
Direct Consequences Often Associated with Wisconsin Felony Offenses
Section 939.60 of Wisconsin’s criminal code defines a “felony” as any offense punishable with imprisonment in a state penitentiary. Whether criminal defense lawyers can help clients avoid jail time often depends on the specific class of felony involved. Nine groups of felonies exist in Wisconsin and carry the following maximum sentences outlined in Wisc. Stat. § 939.50(3):
- Class A – Life
- Class B – 60 years
- Class C – 40 years
- Class D – 25 years
- Class E – 15 years
- Class F – 12.5 years
- Class G – 10 years
- Class H –6 years
- Class I – 3.5 years
Judges generally have discretion during sentencing proceedings, and a lawyer can often make compelling arguments for deferred jail time or alternative penalties. Savvy defense counsel may even negotiate specialized plea bargains called Deferred Prosecution Agreements or Deferred Acceptance of a Guilty Pleas with local prosecutors. These agreements can often help offenders avoid minimum sentencing requirements and the collateral consequences of a felony conviction. Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, and most other counties in Wisconsin offer unique versions of these deferral programs.
Requesting Alternative Sentencing Arrangements in Outagamie County
Taking responsibility for criminal conduct often opens doors to alternative sentencing arrangements in Wisconsin. First-time felony offenders with a limited criminal record may agree to participate in programs dedicated to preventing recidivism by addressing the criminal conduct’s root causes and rebuilding community ties.
Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA) and/or deferred guilty pleas give local prosecutors more options for structuring felony-level penalties without subjecting offenders to jail time. Generally, a defendant might avoid a prison sentence by:
- Preliminarily pleading guilty to the charged conduct
- Attending alcohol and drug rehabilitation
- Enrolling in job-training programs and obtaining beneficial employment
- Engaging in community service
- Getting mental health assistance
- Paying any child support arrears and restitution
Prosecutors typically work with defense counsel, court personnel, and community service organizations to conduct a risk assessment and needs analysis. Offenders eligible for these deferral programs often suffer from addiction or were victims of childhood abuse and neglect. By completing the necessary program requirements, prosecutors might drop or reduce felony charges. Retaining a qualified legal advocate early in the negotiation process might increase the likelihood of qualifying for these alternative sentencing programs.
Submitting Evidence of Mitigating Factors During Felony Sentencings
If an offender cannot obtain an alternative plea arrangement, defense counsel might introduce mitigating evidence during a sentencing hearing. Sometimes defendants unintentionally commit felony-level offenses and, as such, do not pose a significant risk to the community. Miscalculating your taxes, drinking more than you thought at dinner, or even mistakenly crossing the border might all qualify as felony offenses. Further, some cases involve conduct that technically violates Wisconsin law but occurred under challenging emotional circumstances. Examples include delivering drugs due to psychological pressure from a partner or assaulting someone preying on your children.
A Brown County criminal defense lawyer might request judges impose a term of community supervision, instead of a prison sentence. Supervision typically includes staying on the right side of the law, attending counseling, working, or otherwise participating in community service programs. Submitting evidence of mitigating factors in combination with arguments about the benefits of your community service plans may help first-time offenders avoid jail. Additionally, convicted felons could agree to accept the maximum fine and arrive at sentencing prepared to pay all necessary restitution. These factors could convenience judges of your sincerity, reliability, and overall commitment to the criminal justice process.
Requesting Medical Leniency During Felony Sentencing
When convicted felonies wish to avoid jail but do not qualify for a deferral program or community supervision, an attorney might file a medical leniency petition. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual forms of punishment. If the state prison board cannot accommodate a defendant’s medical treatment needs, an attorney might argue for an alternative sentencing arrangement.
Examples of this type of arrangement include house arrest for late-stage dialysis patients or deferring any jail sentencing until after an offender’s chemotherapy treatment protocol is completed. Judges might also consider any life-threatening conditions afflicting the offender’s children, spouse, or elderly parents and the offender’s role in caring for loved ones. A judge might consider the implications associated with imposing a sentence too harsh in light of these extenuating medical circumstances.
Cooperating with Ongoing Organized Criminal Investigations
Offenders who agree to testify against dangerous criminals may request prosecutors certify their assistance during the sentencing hearing. An individual convicted of a felony might avoid prison by helping law enforcement locate and convict leaders of organized trafficking syndicates, sexual offenders, or violent criminals. A lawyer may work with all parties involved to present this option to prosecutors and ensure his or her client receives any necessary witness protection services. If prosecutors agree that the information a convicted felony possesses holds more value than imposing a jail sentence, the offender might avoid jail for a felony offense.
Call Us Today to Speak with a Wisconsin Criminal Defense Lawyer
Felony convictions carry serious direct and indirect consequences for Wisconsin offenders. Do not let a single mistake steal years of your life when the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Hogan Eickhoff may be able to help you avoid jail time. Whether you need to petition for medical leniency, apply for a deferred sentencing program, or present mitigating evidence to the court, schedule a free, confidential consultation with our dedicated Appleton felony defense attorneys by calling (920) 450-9800 or contacting us online.