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Not guilty! Attorney Christopher Van Wagner won an outright acquittal (not guilty verdict) for his client, Robert Meng, who had confessed to the murder.

Not guilty! Staton was charged with attempted murder. His outbursts nearly landed him in jail. But Attorney Van Wagner won an acquittal.

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Felony Murder

Felony murder is murder committed during the attempt or commission of a felony.

Wisconsin Felony Murder Rule

Under common law, the felony murder rule doctrine provides that a murder committed during the commission or the attempt of another felony is subject to the most severe penalties. Some states have applied the felony murder rule to any felony, while other states have applied it to only certain dangerous felony crimes. Wisconsin uses the dangerous felony application of the felony murder rule, which provides that the felony must have been a dangerous felony or a felony committed in a dangerous manner in order for the felony murder rule to apply. Dangerous felonies included those crimes which cause grave or serious bodily injury or have the propensity to cause such harm, and felonies committed in a dangerous manner including any felony committed or attempted with the use of a dangerous weapon. A dangerous weapon is a gun or any other article that can be used to cause serious bodily harm or death even if the article is not usually used to cause such harm.

Under Wisconsin law, the felony murder rule applies to any murder committed during the commission or attempt of a dangerous felony crime. The dangerous felony crimes enumerated by Wisconsin Statute 940.03 are: Battery, Sexual Assault, Kidnapping, Arson, Burglary, Auto Theft by Force, or any crime committed with explosives, by arson, or by the use of a dangerous weapon.

Homicide Penalty Enhancements

If a person is convicted of felony murder, the penalty imposed will include an enhancement - an additional 15 years imprisonment added to the maximum term of imprisonment.

The purpose of the felony murder rule is to provide a statutory means of imposing additional more severe penalties upon a person who commits a homicide during the commission or attempt of a dangerous felony, thus it is an attempt by the legislature to reduce the commission of dangerous felonies or to reduce the number of felonies committed in a dangerous manner.

Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers

Attorney Chris Van Wagner has defended many people who have been accused of murder, homicide, vehicular homicide, and negligent homicide. Chris Van Wagner has been three times awarded the Martin Hanson Advocate's Prize for numerous homicide acquittals, named "Warrior of the Year" after a particularly difficult murder trial, and repeatedly voted as one of Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers. Last year, he was also named to Wisconsin Super Lawyers.

Most notable among the many murder trials that Attorney Van Wagner has defended are the Meng case in which Attorney Van Wagner was compared to O. J. Simpson's dream team. In that case, Meng confessed to the murder and hiding the corpse, and then changed his story. Often times, when a defendant changes a murder alibi, a jury is hard pressed to believe either story. However, in Meng's case, Attorney Van Wagner was able to convince the jury that Meng was telling the truth when he denied intentionally killing the victim.

Another notable case is that of a former prosecuting attorney who was charged with attempted murder. Under Wisconsin law, an attempted murder is charged as the completed crime - murder. The former DA went through several attorneys before Attorney Van Wagner took the case. Even after Chris signed on, the client's behavior almost got the client removed from the court where his own case was being tried. Despite all odds, Attorney Van Wagner won the case, and his client was acquitted (found not guilty) of attempted murder.

Notably, too, Attorney Van Wagner practiced as a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago, Illinois, where the death penalty is used. Not one of Chris' clients ever saw death row.

Attorney Tracey Wood won an outright acquittal in a case that made the national headlines a few years ago, when her client was cleared of any wrongdoing in a wide-ranging and emboldened conspiracy scheme that actually stole missile launchers and military tanks from the Ft. McCoy military base in northern Wisconsin. All but one other defendant in that case went to federal prison for years.

In addition to the solid and successful trial history of Attorney Chris Van Wagner and Attorney Tracey Wood, those attorneys regularly win appeals to the state and federal courts.

Attorney Wood has also won several appeals - three is just the past year. Those appeals were remarkable because they set precedence paving the way for new defense strategies. Attorney Wood has long been at the forefront of legal strategies, and won many appellate cases.

not guilty verdicts

Many criminal defense lawyers never experience the thrill of an outright acquittal in their career, and yet Van Wagner & Woods lawyers have won several for their clients. Their record clearly reflects their hard work, their intelligent and professional approach to their cases, and their skill in developing a strategy that fits an individual clients case, while drawing upon their knowledge, experience and skill from past cases.

Free Initial Consultation

If you are under investigation for a murder, if you have already been charged with murder, or if you have already been convicted but believe your conviction or your sentence were wrong, please call Attorney Chris Van Wagner or Attorney Tracey Wood at or nationally or e-mail ( ) for a free initial consultant with an experienced, aggressive lawyer who can really help you obtain the best outcome possible.