Based in Beloit, The Fitzgerald Law Firm represents clients from both Illinois and Wisconsin. As a result, we offer twice the knowledge when providing criminal defense against charges such as First Degree Intentional Homicide–considered a Class A Felony in Wisconsin.
We understand what a frightening and stressful experience it is to have criminal charges brought against a loved one or be facing charges, yourself. Worrying–though understandably difficult to avoid–won’t be of any help in preparing a strong defense. You need to contact a law firm specializing in criminal defense right away.
What is 1st Degree Intentional Homicide in Wisconsin?
To better understand the definition of this criminal offense, it is best to look to the state of Wisconsin’s legal description of First Degree Intentional Homicide.
In Chapter 940 Crimes Against Life and Body Security, Subchapter 1 Life, First Degree Intentional Homicide, the Wisconsin State Statutes clearly explain which types of death are considered First Degree Intentional Homicides.
Under Wisconsin Statute 940.01:
First-degree intentional homicide:
(a) Except as provided in sub. (2), whoever causes the death of another human being with intent to kill that person or another is guilty of a Class A felony.
(b) Except as provided in sub. (2), whoever causes the death of an unborn child with intent to kill that unborn child, kill the woman who is pregnant with that unborn child or kill another is guilty of a Class A felony.
In simpler terms, Wisconsin law considers deaths to be the result of first degree intentional homicide when a person causes another person’s death or the death of an unborn baby while trying to kill that person, that unborn baby, the unborn baby’s mother or someone else on purpose or intentionally. Exceptions are considered when the deaths were the result of reckless behavior on the part of the defendant.
If you or a loved one are facing first degree intentional homicide or other criminal charges in Wisconsin, or first degree murder or other criminal charges in Illinois, it is crucial to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
Defenses to 1st Degree Intentional Homicide in Wisconsin
State of Wisconsin Statutes recognize four scenarios as “mitigating circumstances” or acceptable defense options to prosecution which could reduce (or mitigate) first-degree intentional homicide charges to 2nd-degree intentional homicide charges.
- Adequate Provocation
- Unnecessary Defensive Force
- Prevention of Felony
- Coercion; Necessity
Let’s take a closer look at these circumstances.
This defense would be appropriate if an ordinary person felt a sufficient (adequate) lack of self-control in response to the actions of the intended victim, which the defendant believed were causing him or her to lack self-control in that situation.
If this scenario sounds like one you or your loved one experienced, it is important to share this information with a knowledgeable attorney.
Unnecessary Defensive Force
This circumstance of defense is fairly straight-forward.
As defined under Wisconsin Statute 940.01 (2):
(b) Unnecessary defensive force. Death was caused because the actor believed he or she or another was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that the force used was necessary to defend the endangered person, if either belief was unreasonable.
While this defense may seem simple enough to communicate, there are numerous factors surrounding the manner in which law enforcement and the courts can come to accept this defense. It is very important to consult a criminal defense lawyer who can help your with your case.
Prevention of Felony
If the homicide was committed with the intention of stopping the victim from committing a felony, the prevention of felony circumstance would apply as a defense, which could reduce the defendant’s charges.
Under Wisconsin Statute 940.01 (2):
(c) Prevention of felony. Death was caused because the actor believed that the force used was necessary in the exercise of the privilege to prevent or terminate the commission of a felony, if that belief was unreasonable.
Contacting an informed attorney if you or your loved one believed the homicide was committed in an attempt to prevent a felony. It may be possible to reduce the charge of first-degree intentional homicide to 2nd-degree intentional homicide.
When a person has been threatened with or feels the pressure of imminent death or great bodily harm if they do not act in such a way as to cause another’s death, coercion or necessity are defenses your attorney may identify in your criminal case.
If this was the situation leading up to the charges facing you or your loved one, consulting a successful criminal defense lawyer is important in preparing your defense.
Burden of Proof
It is important to have an experienced attorney assist you with your defense if you hope to reduce the charges you are facing for homicide in Wisconsin.
Once your attorney is able to enter any of the previous affirmative defenses, the burden of proof falls to the state, or else the charge of first-degree intentional homicide should be reduced to second-degree intentional homicide.
As explained under Wisconsin State Statute 940.01:
(3) Burden of proof. When the existence of an affirmative defense under sub. (2) has been placed in issue by the trial evidence, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the facts constituting the defense did not exist in order to sustain a finding of guilt under sub. (1).
To be confident you are doing all you can to fight against a first-degree intentional homicide charge, consult with an attorney who can help you.
Penalties for First-Degree Intentional Homicide in Wisconsin
This criminal charge carries serious penalties in the state of Wisconsin and can result in a mandatory life sentence in prison. Working with a proven criminal defense attorney is highly recommended if you are facing homicide charges–especially if your actions were the result of any of the circumstances listed above.
How to Fight First-Degree Intentional Homicide Charges in Wisconsin
If you or someone close to you has been arrested in Wisconsin or Illinois and is facing criminal charges, such as first-degree intentional homicide or first-degree murder, it is important to consult an experienced attorney right away.
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