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Criminal Defense – Domestic Violence Convictions and Gun Rights

A spat between spouses, an argument between boyfriend and girlfriend, or even a squabble between roommates can sometimes escalate to the point where police are involved. Police involvement in such a dispute, can lead to the arrest of the person whom the police reasonably believe to be the “primary aggressor”. If you are arrested under such circumstances, and are subsequently charged by the District Attorney, then you may be in danger of losing your right to own or possess a firearm. And it is a lifetime ban. This consequence is not the result of any Wisconsin laws or regulations, but is in fact the result of a Federal prohibition which dates back to the Gun Control Act of 1968, with subsequent amendments, particularly a provision which was almost unanimously approved by Congress in 1996 which essentially states that anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence shall be subject to the gun prohibition.

Particularly, the Federal Government considers a qualifying misdemeanor crime of domestic violence to be any state or federal misdemeanor that “has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim”. 18 U.S.C. §922.

The law in Wisconsin considers a domestic relationship to be any adult persons who are either married, used to be married to each other, have a child together, or live together or used to live together. In Wisconsin the statutes define domestic abuse as any intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or illness; any intentional impairment of physical condition; sexual assault; and any physical act that may cause the other person reasonably to fear imminent engagement in any of the other acts just described. §968.075(1)(a) Wis. Stats. Domestic abuse is not a crime in and of itself in Wisconsin, but is in fact a penalty enhancer of other types of criminal offenses. For example, one cannot be charged with domestic abuse by itself, but a person can be charged with Battery – as a Domestic Abuse Offense, or Disorderly Conduct – as a Domestic Abuse offense, and so on.

As you can see, the Federal law and the State law are quite similar in their definitions of domestic abuse (violence). However, it is important to note that both the Federal and State law require some sort of physical force or threat of physical force. Occasionally, overly zealous law enforcement officers or prosecutors will charge a person criminally with a domestic abuse offense where, in reality, there is no evidence of physical force or threat of physical force. Nevertheless, if you have been charged with a domestic abuse offense it would be in your best interest to hire an experienced and aggressive attorney who can advocate on your behalf right away. In addition, if domestic abuse has not been added on as an enhancer to an underlying criminal charge, but there are in fact allegations of domestic abuse in the charging documents that have been filed with the court, it is still possible for a person to be subject to the Federal gun prohibition, banning that person from ever owning a gun again, and if they do they can be prosecuted in federal court and be sent to federal prison for up to 10 years.

Losing your right to own or possess a firearm is a serious consequence of any criminal charge and many of my clients find that penalty to be more serious than any fines or jail that may be imposed.

You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from an attorney or other professional legal service provider. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult you attorney or other professional legal services provider. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website. 

The law firm of Simon & Feldhausen, LLC is a Green Bay law office made up of Green Bay attorneys/lawyers who are experienced in the area of criminal defense and how those charges can impact a person’s employment, freedom, driver’s license, and other areas of a person’s life.

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) – Driver’s License Suspensions

As most of us know, there are certain consequences to getting convicted of an OWI in Wisconsin.  Those consequences can include the installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle that you own or operate, revocation of your driver’s license, hefty fines, and even jail time.  However, did you know that if you get arrested for an OWI your license could get suspended by the Department of Transportation before you even go to court for the OWI charge?  This is called an administrative suspension and it can last up to six months.

Under §343.305(7) of the Wisconsin Statutes the law says that if you submit to chemical testing of your blood, breath or urine after an arrest for OWI, and if the results come back with an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, your operating privilege will be suspended for 6 months by the Department of Transportation.  However, be careful not to interpret this as a good reason to refuse to participate in blood, breath or urine testing.  Refusing to participate in this testing could place you in violation of Wisconsin’s implied consent laws.  In some instances finding yourself in violation of the implied consent laws by refusing testing can carry more severe consequences for your driver’s license than the OWI itself.  In addition, refusing testing can also result in higher fines and more jail time.

If your blood/breath/urine alcohol results show that you are at or above the legal limit of .08, then the law enforcement agency that arrested you will complete a form called a Notice of Intent to Suspend Operating Privilege and they will mail a copy of this form to you and to the Department of Transportation.  This form will basically put you on notice that your driver’s license will be suspended 30 days from the date on the form.  At the same time you will also receive a form advising you that you have a right to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license.  But to do so, you must complete the forms that you receive from the law enforcement agency by filling out certain information and mailing it back to the Department of Transportation within 10 days, or 13 days if it has been mailed to you.  It is usually best to have an attorney help you with this.

An experienced and aggressive OWI lawyer will almost always challenge this driver’s license suspension for reasons which can best be explained to you by the attorney him/herself.  Therefore, if you have been arrested for an OWI it is in your best interest to talk to an experienced OWI attorney right away.  Do not wait until your court date on the OWI ticket to speak with a lawyer because by then you may have missed out on some important steps in the process of defending yourself against and fighting an OWI charge or citation.

You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from an attorney or other professional legal service provider.  If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult you attorney or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website. 

The law firm of Simon & Feldhausen, LLC is a Green Bay law office made up of Green Bay attorneys/lawyers who are experienced in the areas of OWI/DUI/DWI and how those charges can impact a person’s employment, freedom, driver’s license, and other areas of a person’s life.

Business Finance – Crowdfunding Can Give Your Next Big Idea a Critical Boost

Ever had a great idea but nowhere to turn for capital to get it off the ground?  Entrepreneurs and startups all across the country frequently face this dilemma.  Some turn to friends and family (or even to more sophisticated “angel investors” if the idea has substantial promise) to provide sorely needed initial capital.  Traditional sources of debt financing such as home equity loans, commercial financing or even microloans can also help, but in some cases the individual may not meet the criteria required or the amount of capital needed is too large or too small, as the case may be.  No matter where the business owner turns, difficulties in getting the critically needed funding have always been a fact of life.

Help may now be more readily available through “crowdfunding” (also called “crowdsourcing”), which continues to grow in popularity.  In crowdfunding, a large number of individuals pool funds (usually through social media or internet “funding portals”) for purposes of providing capital to specific products or ideas.  There are two common types of crowdfunding.  The first is a “donation” model, which provides the funder with designated rewards (ranging from discounts to actual products).  The other type is an “investment” crowdfunding model that provides actual equity ownership in the recipient company.

Although the idea for crowdfunding has been around for years, the impetus for making crowdfunding a reality came with the signing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS) by President Obama in April of 2012.  The JOBS Act provided a framework for stimulating funding of smaller and startup businesses and relaxing certain regulatory hurdles faced by these companies.  As part of this process, the JOBS Act directed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) to develop rules for implementing crowdfunding. In late March of this year, the SEC issued its final rules for a two-tiered crowdfunding structure which will enable companies to sell up to $50 million of securities ($20 million under the lower tier) in a 12-month period, subject to certain eligibility, disclosure and filing requirements.  As a result, crowdfunding is likely to increase in popularity, because it will allow the everyday “non-accredited” investor an opportunity (subject to SEC limits) to invest in new projects.

Crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Rockethub and Crowdfunder.com not only provide members of the general public the opportunity to fund business proposals (generally called “projects”) that appeal to their subjective tastes or sense of activism, but also provide venues for  entrepreneurs to submit their business start-up ideas for public backing.  The result of this is that equity funding sources are no longer limited to either personal relationships or a local geographic area.  A unique product or business model can now appeal to potential investors across the country, removing barriers and boundaries to accessing the capital needed to get to market.

Crowdfunding is not for everyone.  The SEC’s new rules place substantial limitations on issuers and investors alike, as well as filing and disclosure requirements similar to those required of other business entities selling securities.  Because the SEC rules (and crowdfunding in general) are so new, expect a substantial “trial and error” period to iron out the kinks in the new funding regime.

If crowdfunding looks like it might be something that fits your needs, you still have a lot of work ahead to get your business idea (and your business) into position to be ready to take advantage of crowdfunding.  There are some important steps and considerations for anyone thinking about crowdfunding:

  • Determine if crowdfunding is right for your business model. Is the business idea, product or solution unique enough to attract crowdfunding?  Are the capital needs of your business appropriate for crowdfunding?
  • Make sure your business is set up properly. Do you have an operating business entity or is this still a dream or a “napkin drawing”?  Are you maintaining corporate formalities and avoiding problems?  Additionally, you will need to either write a solid business plan or review and revise your current plan if you already have one.
  • Consult business, accounting and legal professionals. Depending on the size of the offering, you will need to draft offering and disclosure documents and make the appropriate filings. The securities rules, even for crowdfunding, can be complex.  For instance, you will need to understand the mechanisms and rules for crowdfunding and be able to evaluate for yourself the pros and cons of this type of funding. Your financial records may need closer scrutiny by a CPA, depending on the amount of funding you are seeking.
  • Make sure your intellectual property is protected. Nothing will kill a great business idea like disclosing the underlying, unprotected intellectual property to the public or inviting unwanted competition by putting your model out for public scrutiny.  Got a new design?  Look to patent it.  Got a catchy name for your product or business?  Seek trademark protection.  Investors will also want to know that an idea which they are crowdfunding has a strong IP position.

Like any business venture, there are always risks, both for the investor and the entrepreneur.  Due to the presence of many smaller investors, the individual risk to a single larger investor may be mitigated in the early (and riskiest) stage of the business.  Even with the inherent risks, crowdfunding promises to provide a source of investment capital that was seemingly unimaginable only a few years ago.  It also promises to provide inventive and entrepreneurial individuals with a means to access the broader market and make a public appeal for the success of the “next big idea.”

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) – Refusing BAC Testing

Most drivers understand that getting convicted of OWI in Wisconsin means that you will face several different consequences.  An OWI conviction can result in hefty fines, jail time, and the loss of your driver’s license.  But what many people don’t understand is that the loss of your driver’s license can occur very shortly after your arrest for OWI, but long before you are ever actually convicted.  This loss of your driver’s license can come about in one of two ways, but in this article we will focus on revocations which result from refusing the testing of your breath, blood, or urine (refusal).

In Wisconsin, section 343.305 of the Wisconsin Statutes says that if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that you have been operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated he/she may then request that you provide a sample of your breath, blood, or urine in order to find out what your blood alcohol concentration is.  Before they can make this request the officer has to read a form to you called the Informing the Accusing.  It is a rather lengthy and cryptic form which basically tells you that the officer can ask you to participate in the testing, and if you don’t your license could be revoked.  If you refuse to participate in the test, we call it a “refusal”.

Refusing blood, breath or urine testing when an officer has probable cause to request it can mean rather severe consequences against your driver’s license.  A refusal can result in a 12 month revocation of your license, a 30 day waiting period for an occupational license, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in any vehicle that you own or operate for 12 months (and it doesn’t matter what your BAC is).  These penalties are worse than the driver’s license penalties for an actual OWI – 1st offense conviction, and it could happen before you even go to court for the OWI.

Many people don’t even realize that they have been found to be in violation of the refusal laws.  Getting arrested for OWI can be very stressful and traumatic.  People often just focus on the ticket that says Operating While Intoxicated on it with a court date in the upper left corner, and put the rest of the paperwork on a shelf to deal with later, not realizing that their driver’s license is about to get revoked.  They often don’t realize that they refused the test at all because they had submitted themselves to the officer’s breathalyzer device after they did the field sobriety tests and therefore think that they have already submitted to the chemical testing.  However, this small handheld device that officers often use on the roadside is not an official test that can be used in court.  An official breathalyzer is a larger machine that is often located elsewhere (police station, jail, truck stop, etc.) the results of which can be used in court.  Or, you may be taken to a hospital to have your blood drawn.

If a person is found to have refused chemical testing, the officer must then provide them with a form called Notice of Intent to Revoke Operating Privilege.  This notice tells the driver that they have 10 days from that date (often date of arrest) if they wish to file a request with the court to fight the refusal and subsequent revocation of driver’s license.  It also tells them that in 30 days their license will be revoked.

The OWI laws and how they affect your driver’s license can be very confusing.  That is why it is best to hire an experienced attorney who will not only fight your OWI, but also help you to navigate through the strange and very misunderstood world of suspensions and revocations.

You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from an attorney.  If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult with an attorney immediately.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

The law firm of Simon & Feldhausen, LLC is a Green Bay law office comprised of Green Bay attorneys who are experienced in the areas of OWI and how those charges can impact a person’s employment, freedom, driver’s license, and other areas of a person’s life.