What Are the Steps in a Misdemeanor Case in Wisconsin?

A conviction does not happen overnight. For a person to be convicted in Wisconsin, they must have gone through all of the required steps of the prosecution. The number of steps that a person has to take after being charged with a misdemeanor will depend on the result of the previous step in the process.

Police investigation

After a crime occurs, the police will investigate the case. The police officers will gather all the available evidence of the crime and make a report. In the report, they will include a list of suspects. Once the report is complete, the police department will send it to the district attorney.

Issue of charges

The district attorney will review the report and decide if there is enough evidence to issue formal charges against a suspect. If they choose to press charges against someone, they will ask the suspect to appear in court at a specific time and date.

Initial appearance in court

In the initial appearance in court, also known as the arraignment, the judge will let the accused know what their charges are. They will also inform them of the possible penalties they could face if their case ends in a conviction. During this first appearance, the accused can plead guilty, no guilty or no contest. If they plead guilty, the judge will sentence them, ending the process.

Motion hearing

The motion hearing will occur if the accused pleads not guilty or no contest. During this hearing, the court will show the accused the evidence against them. The accused has the right to fight the validity of this evidence. If the court does not dismiss the charge, the case will go to a pretrial conference.

Pretrial conference

The pretrial conference is a meeting between the prosecutor and the attorneys of the accused and the victim. During the pretrial conference, the attorney of the accused can negotiate the sentencing. Usually, the prosecutor will offer the accused a reduced sentence in exchange for the accused’s admission of guilt for the crime. If the accused accepts the resolution, they will receive sentencing, and the process ends there.

Trial and sentencing

If the accused does not accept the offer, they will go through the last step of the process: the trial. In the trial, the accused’s and the victim’s legal representatives will present all the case evidence to the judge and jury. The judge will make the final ruling if it is a court trial. In contrast, 12 citizens will determine if the accused is guilty or not in a jury trial.

The rights of the accused

A person can only face a conviction if the court finds enough evidence against them. However, the accused has the right to fight this evidence during the entire legal process. To do this successfully, they need the help of a lawyer who understands the criminal procedures.  Only with a good defense can the accused avoid facing long-lasting consequences.