Van Wagner & Wood Home Page
Madison WI   
Toll Free   


Cohabit - Cohabitation

Wisconsin law defines a cohabit as meaning any two persons who live together under the representation or appearance of being married. [Incest] [Sex Crimes]

Dangerous Weapon

A dangerous weapon is a gun, knife, or any article that may be used in such a manner so as to cause great bodily injury or death. A firearm with a trigger lock is within the applicable definition of a dangerous weapon under s. 939.22 (10). State v. Norris, 214 Wis. 2d 25, 571 N.W.2d 857 (Ct. App. 1997), 96-2158. [Homicide] [Reckless Homicide] [Vehicular Homicide] [Negligent Homicide] [Murder]

Domestic Relationship

A domestic relationship exists if the persons: are currently or previously were married; currently or previously lived in the same dwelling; or currently have or expect a child.

Illegal Per Se

"Per Se" is a latin term meaning "by itself." A matter is illegal per se when the matter is illegal under state or Federal law without any further explanation, evidence or argument.

For example, a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of .08 is illegal per se because Wisconsin law proscribes that any person driving while he or she has a blood alcohol concentration level of at least .08 is drunk. [OWI]

Minor Child

Wisconsin statutory law defines a child as any person who has not attained the age of 18 years, except that for purposes of prosecuting a person who is alleged to have violated a state or federal criminal law, child does not include a person who has attained the age of 17 years. [Sexual Assault] [Sexual Assault Of A Minor Child] [Repeated Sexual Assault Of A Minor Child] [Sex Crimes]


For the purposes of public fornication, "public" is defined as any place where a person knows his or her actions are observable by persons other than the person with whom he or she is having sexual intercourse. Public beaches are always public places. Private beaches may be public places depending upon the circumstances; in most situations, private beaches are public for the purposes of determining if fornication has occurred in public, but it is a rebuttable presumption (an arguable point) as to whether a person had a right to expect privacy. If the water ways can be traversed by public, then it is safe to assume that the beach is public for the purposes of this statute. [Public Fornication] [Sexual Gratification] [Sex Crimes]

Repeated Acts

"Repeated Acts" is typically charged with sexual assault criminal prosecutions. Repeated acts means that the prosecutor contends to have evidence proving that more than one incidence of the sexual assault occurred, but the exact dates may be difficult to prove. Rather than be nailed down to specific dates and times, the assumption is made that there were numerous incidences of the same act at different times. [Repeated Acts of Sexual Assault] [Sexual Assault Of A Minor]

Responsible Person (Sexual Assault)

For purposes of determining if a person is responsible for failing to act to prevent a sexual assault or sexual contact upon a child from occurring, or from being repeated, a responsible person means the child's parent, stepparent, guardian, foster parent, treatment foster parent, an employee of a public or private residential home, institution or agency, other person legally responsible for he child's welfare in a residential setting, or a person employed by one legally responsible for the child's welfare to exercise temporary control or care of the child. [Sexual Assault] [Sexual Assault Of A Minor Child] [Repeated Sexual Assault Of A Minor Child] [Sex Crimes]

Serious Child Sex Offender

A serious child sex offender means a person who has been convicted, adjudicated delinquent or found not guilty or not responsible by reason of insanity or mental disease, defect or illness for committing a violation of a crime prohibited under Wisconsin law against a child who had not attained the age of 13 years. WI Statutes, Chapter 980. [Sex Offender] [Sexual Predator] [Habitual Sexual Offender] [Sex Crimes]

Sexual Contact

Sexual contact is any intentional touching by the complainant or defendant, either directly or through clothing by the use of any body part or object, of the complaint's or defendant's intimate parts if that intentional touching is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or sexually humiliating the complainant or sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant. Intentional penile ejaculation of ejaculate or intentional emission of urine or feces by the defendant upon any part of the body clothed or unclothed of the complainant if that ejaculation or emission is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or sexually humiliating the complainant or for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant. (WI Statute 948.01). [Sex Crimes] [Sexual Assault] [Sexual Assault Of A Minor Child] [Sexual Gratification]

Sexually Explicit Conduct

Sexually explicit conduct means actual or simulated sexual intercourse, bestiality, masturbation, sexual sadism, sexual masochistic abuse, flagellation, torture, bondage, or lewd exhibition of intimate parts. [Lewd & Lascivious Behavior] [Obscene Behavior] [Sex Crimes]

Sexual Intercourse

Sexual intercourse means vulva penetration as well as cunnilingus, fellatio, or anal intercourse between persons or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or of any object into the genital or anal opening either by a person or upon the person's instruction. The emission of semen is not required. [Sex Crimes]

Unborn Child

Under Wisconsin law, an unborn child is a fetus of any age that has not yet been born alive. Because Wisconsin law subscribes to the "born alive" doctrine, a partially born child that has not yet taken a breath is not born alive.

The Wisconsin legislature clearly indicated that abortions are legal in the state of Wisconsin (within specific time frames). In Wisconsin laws, it can be an intentional homicide, a murder, felony murder, negligent homicide, or vehicular homicide to cause the death of an unborn child. However, that does not include legalized abortions.

Utter Disregard for Human Life

The conduct of a person acting with utter disregard for human life surpasses a high degree of negligence or recklessness; the state of mind of a person acting with utter disregard for human life not only disregards the safety of another person, but must disregard the moral or social duties of a human being.

As Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner states, "[For utter disregard for human life to be proven], the state [must] show not that it was one of those moments where our client said, “Oh my God, what did I do?” but rather, “I don’t really give a darn!” and there’s a big difference there.
Today Show, State of Wisconsin vs. Carnell

An utter disregard for human life can be proven objectively such as by evidence showing the defendant's state of mind, by evidence of a high level of risk, or by evidence of an obvious and potentially lethal danger, or subjectively, but the state need not prove that an intent existed to do harm. Several factors must also be considered such as the degree of force used to cause the injuries, the type of act during which the injuries were sustained, the nature of the act and the extent of the victim's injuries.

Regardless of the manner in which an utter disregard for human life is shown, it must be measured by a 'reasonable man standard'; that is, according to what a reasonable person would have known. [State v. Jensen, 2000 WI 84, 236 Wis. 2d 521, 613 NW 2d 170, 98-3175.]

See: [Reckless Injury] [Reckless Homicide]




Appeals & Serious Crimes - Homicide - Murder - State - Federal

Drug Crimes

Drunk Driving (OWI, DUI, DWI)

Federal Crimes

Sexual Assault, Rape & Sex Crimes