A felony is a criminal offense for which a convicted person can be sentenced to serve one or more years in a state or federal prison, pay fines or both. Felony crimes are distinguished from misdemeanor crimes by the possible sentence provided in the statute: if the possible prison sentence is one or more years, the offense is a felony, otherwise it is a misdemeanor. A person can be sentenced to death for a felony conviction in states where the death penalty exists; Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.
Wisconsin classifies its felony crimes (and misdemeanor crimes) according to the sentence allowable under the Statute. Felony classes include: Class A Felony, Class B Felony, Class C Felony, Class D Felony, Class E Felony, Class F Felony, Class G Felony, Class H Felony, or Class I Felony offenses.
The Wisconsin criminal code consists of all of the criminal laws of the state of Wisconsin, which are enumerated in the Wisconsin Statutes.
Class A Felony
For a Class A Felony, the penalty is imprisonment for life. Class A Felonies: First Degree Intentional Homicide | Felony Murder
Class B Felony
For a Class B Felony, the penalty is imprisonment up to 60 years. Class B Felonies: Second Degree Intentional Homicide (Manslaughter) | First Degree Reckless Homicide | Conspiracy | First Degree Sexual Assault | Kidnapping
Class C Felony
For a Class C Felony, the penalty is a fine of up to $100,000, or imprisonment of up to 40 years, or both. Class C Felonies: Felony Drunk Driving (fifth or subsequent offense) | Second Degree Sexual Assault | Kidnapping | Arson | Robbery | Vehicular Homicide While Intoxicated
Class D Felony
For a Class D Felony, the penalty is a fine of up to $100,000, or imprisonment of up to 25 years, or both. Class D Felonies: Felony Drunk Driving (fifth or subsequent offense) | Felony Vehicular Homicide | Vehicular Homicide While Intoxicated | Child Enticement | Solicitation of a Child
Class E Felony
For a Class E Felony, the penalty is a fine of up to $50,000, or imprisonment of up to 15 years, or both. Class E Felonies: Battery – Great Bodily Harm | Burglary | Robbery
Class F Felony
For a Class F Felony, the penalty is a fine of up to $25,000, or imprisonment of up to 12 1/2 years, or both. Class F Felonies: Failure to Act to Prevent Sexual Assault of a Child | Sexual Exploitation | Burglary | Stalking | Theft
Class G Felony
For a Class G Felony, the penalty is a fine of up to $25,000, or imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both. Class G Felonies: Negligent Homicide | Negligent Vehicular Homicide | Embezzlement | Theft
Class H Felony
For a Class H Felony, the penalty is a fine of up to $10,000, or imprisonment of up to six years, or both. Class H Felonies: Embezzlement | Battery – Great Bodily Harm | False Imprisonment | Stalking | Theft
Class I Felony
For a Class I Felony, the penalty is a fine of up to $10,000, or imprisonment of up to three and a half years, or both. Class I Felonies: Child Pornography | Embezzlement | Battery—Substantial Bodily Harm | Stalking | Theft
For a repeat offender, the term of imprisonment may increase up to two years if the person was previously convicted of one or more misdemeanors and up to six years if the person was previously convicted of a felony.
If the conviction is for a serious sex offender crime, the penalties may include additional sentences. First Degree Sexual Assault | Second Degree Sexual Assault | Third Degree Sexual Assault | Fourth Degree Sexual Assault
A felony conviction affects the person's civil liberty—such as the right to vote or carry a firearm—and can affect the person's ability to obtain employment and licenses.
The Right To Vote: Does a convicted felon have a right to vote?
A convicted felon does not possess the right to vote until such time that he or she has completed the sentence imposed for the felony conviction, so long as no other sentence (or sentences) is outstanding for other felony convictions, or the right to vote has not otherwise been prohibited.
The Right to Bear Arms: Does a convicted felon have a right to bear arms (carry a firearm)?
A convicted felon is forever prohibited from carrying a firearm. It is a felony offense for a convicted felon to possess a firearm under Wisconsin state laws. (Note that Wisconsin law extends to "other weapons.") A convicted felon cannot hunt with a gun. A convicted felon also cannot group gun hunt because under Wisconsin hunting regulations every member of a group gun-hunting party must have both a valid hunting license AND a rifle in his or her possession.
You may not possess a firearm if the offense of conviction is a crime of domestic violence. This prohibition applies even if you have not been convicted of a felony offense. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). This prohibition applies to all handguns, starter pistols, shotguns, hunting rifles and ammunition. This prohibition includes both actual or constructive possession of a firearm; that is, you may not hold in your hand, store, borrow, or in any manner use or exercise control over the firearm of another. Having a firearm in your home, even if it belongs to a parent, spouse or child who also resides there, could be construed as possession of a firearm. You may, however, still fish and possess and hunt with a bow, unless a judicial order provides otherwise.
Relatedly, you may not possess a firearm if you are a fugitive from justice, addicted to any controlled substance, committed to a mental institution, an illegal alien, discharged from the armed services under dishonorable conditions or subject to a restraining order. You may not obtain state-issued licenses for hunting, fishing, etc., for up to five years if you have been convicted of violating certain hunting regulations. You may not possess bulletproof body armor. Wis. Stat. § 941.291.
Jury Duty: Can a convicted felon serve on a jury?
A convicted felon cannot serve on a jury until such time that he or she has completed the sentence imposed for the felony conviction, so long as no other sentence (or sentences) is outstanding for other felony convictions or other factors do not exist to prevent jury duty. That is not to say that a convicted felon will serve jury duty. Potential jurors are randomly selected; many selection processes use a common database, such as the driver's license database; therefore, if the felony conviction resulted in revocation of that person's driver's license, then even the potential random selection would exclude convicted felons whose driving privileges had been revoked.
What are the Other Consequences of a Felony Conviction?
You may not hold elective office.
You may not vote until your civil rights have been restored. At sentencing, a court may prohibit you from having contact with co-actors involved in the offense conduct during the period of probation.
You may be deported, excluded or denied entry into the United States based upon a criminal conviction if you are not a citizen of the United States (i.e., a resident alien, green card holder, here on any visa.)
You may not receive federal student financial aid (for a set period of time) if you are convicted of a drug offense; the length of time varies depending upon the offense of conviction.
You may not obtain certain federal health, welfare and housing benefits if you are convicted of a drug offense.
You may not operate a motor vehicle for at least six months if you are convicted of a drug offense.
You may not operate a motor vehicle for at least six months if you are convicted of drunk driving. Second or subsequent convictions for drunk driving will result in a longer period during which you may not operate a motor vehicle. In some cases, an ignition interlock device may have to be installed before you may operate a motor vehicle again.
You may be required to provide a DNA sample which will then be posted to a database maintained by the state crime laboratory. There is a $250 fee for this analysis. Certain misdemeanor offenses also qualify for this requirement.
You may be required to register with law enforcement as a sex offender if you are convicted of certain sex offenses, even if the conviction was entered in another state. The period of registration may last for no less than 15 years. In some cases, depending on the offense of conviction, you could be subject to lifetime registration. The registration requirement applies as well to an adjudication of juvenile delinquency. The registration requirement exists as well under federal law. The failure to register or to update your registration is a crime. Please note that under federal law, the sex offender registration requirement is ongoing and relates to current convictions as well as those that have previously been adjudicated (after 1993.)
Related to sex offender registration, please also consider that information regarding sex offender registration is available to the public over the internet. Also, some municipalities have enacted ordinances limiting a registered sex offender's ability to reside in that municipality; some ordinances enact distance restrictions (i.e., shall live no closer than 1,000 feet from a school or park,) while others forbid registered sex offenders from residing in that municipality. Conviction of certain "sexually violent offenses" may subject you to civil commitment during which time you will be placed into the custody of the Department of Health and Family for purposes of treatment. Such period of custody and treatment continues until it is determined that there has been "significant progress in treatment."
You may not work with children if you are convicted of a serious child sex offense.
You may not intentionally photograph minors if you are a registered sex offender.
If your employment requires a professional license or bond, your conviction may have consequences in this regard as well.
This is particularly true if you are employed in health care, child care and education. In those professions requiring a license: to sell real estate, stocks, or to be a barber, for example, a felony conviction may be a bar to obtaining the necessary license.
If you are an over-the-road truck driver, a conviction under certain felony offenses, including offenses of dishonesty or fraud, will disqualify you from hauling materials such as fuel oil and you will be barred from entering refineries under rules promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security.
If you are employed as a "care giver" to adults or children – including, but not limited to, working in day care centers, hospitals, and nursing homes, a criminal conviction may act as a bar to such employment for up to five years.
If you are employed in health care, a criminal conviction may result in your being disbarred from obtaining any federal funds, even if your position is not funded through federal grants or programs. The Center for Medicine and Medicaid Services is authorized to revoke a currently enrolled provider or supplier's Medicare billing privilege based on a felony conviction within the 10 years proceeding enrollment or revalidation of enrollment. This applies to convictions under state or federal law that are considered felony offenses and which "CMS has determined to be detrimental to the best interest of the program and its beneficiaries." Such offenses include felony crimes against persons, such as murder, rape, assault, financial crimes such as extortion, embezzlement, income tax evasion, insurance fraud and other similar crimes for which the individual was convicted including guilty pleas. Importantly adjudicated pre-trial diversions are not excluded.
Further, any felony that places the Medicare program or its beneficiaries at immediate risk, such as in malpractice actions that result in a conviction of criminal neglect or misconduct, and any felony that would result in mandatory exclusion under § 1128(a) of the act.
You may find that a criminal conviction and even some non-criminal adjudications such as for drunk driving (first offense) will act as a bar to the entry of some foreign countries, such as Canada, Australia and Japan, for example. If you move to another state your record moves with you, but each state's consequences differ. For example, some states impose a lifetime ban on voting for persons who have been convicted of a felony. Additionally, it is possible for the legislature to impose new collateral consequences after you have been convicted.
Michael R. Cohen
Cohen Law Offices, LLC
17 South Barstow Street
Eau Claire, WI 54702
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