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Murder is a Class A Felony under Wisconsin law punishable by mandatory life imprisonment without parole. Premeditated and deliberated murder is a first degree intentional homicide murder charge.

"Not since the OJ Simpson case has a defendant had a more believing jury" [in a murder case], wrote a staff writer from Madison Capital Times.

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murder defense attorney

Murder is a homicide, but there is a distinguishing difference between murder and homicide. Murder is always a crime; homicide is not; homicide is an unnatural death, which may or may not be a crime.

The term "murder" is often used to refer to all homicides as a broad categorization, including felony murder, intentional homicide, and negligent homicide or vehicular murder or manslaughter each of which is linked to below for their legal definitions. Under Wisconsin laws, "murder" does not have degrees. Conversely, homicides committed with other "intents" do have degrees. Degrees are used to classify the crime for punishment.

Murder Charges

Under Wisconsin laws, the broad category of murder includes felony murder, first degree intentional homicide, second degree intentional homicide, reckless homicide, negligent homicide, homicide by negligent use of a motor vehicle, homicide by negligent control of a viscous animal, and homicide by negligent use a firearm or dangerous weapon or reckless use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon including explosives. The elements of the crime of murder are intent, act and causation. In order for the prosecuting attorney to obtain a conviction, he must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law during a trial by a jury or a judge, or a confession (that is not later withdrawn - see Meng Confesses to Murder; Attorney Van Wagner wins not guilty verdict).

felony murder

Felony murder is an intentional homicide committed during the commission of another felony. The commission of the felony crime includes all acts before, during and after the felony. Wisconsin law distinguishes between the types of felony crimes that qualify for a felony murder charge. :: see Felony Murder :: Felony Murder Rule :: Class A Felony ::

premeditated and deliberated murder

Under Wisconsin law, a premeditated and deliberated murder is charged as a first degree intentional homicide. Under Wisconsin laws, the attempt to commit a crime is also charged as the completed crime. First Degree Intentional Homicide is defined as intentionally causing the death of another person or unborn child. Intentional murder is sometimes called wanton disregard for human life or depraved heart murder. :: see First Degree Intentional Homicide:: Class A Felony ::

Justifiable Murder or Justified Homicide

A justifiable murder (or justified homicide) is a homicide committed with legal justification. Legal justification includes self defense, defense of others, prevention of a felony, coercion or necessity, or in some instances, by reasonable and legally justifiable mistake. Under Wisconsin law, a justified murder would not result in charges if the justification were legally acceptable. However, a person may be charged with second degree intentional homicide and thus need to claim the legal justification. A mistake of fact would likely result in a second degree intentional homicide charge. see :: Second Degree Intentional Homicide :: Justified Murder :: Class B Felony ::

Manslaughter - Voluntary or Involuntary

When Wisconsin rewrote its criminal code, the term "manslaughter" was removed, and the crime of intentional homicide was separated into degrees of first degree intentional homicide (premeditated and deliberated murder) and second degree intentional homicide (murder under mitigating circumstances). Generally, manslaughter is a lesser degree of murder, a murder committed without malice or under mitigating circumstances.

Excusable Murder - Excused Homicide

Wisconsin law provides circumstances under which a murder is excused from criminal liability. If a person is not criminally liable for a murder resulting from his acts, then no crime has been committed. An accident would negate the intent to kill. :: see Diminished Capacity ::

murder by reckless acts

A murder caused by reckless acts can be classified into first degree reckless homicide or second degree reckless homicide. Second degree reckless homicide is a murder committed during reckless acts. Reckless acts create an unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm.

murder by negligent acts

Negligent murder is charged as a negligent homicide under Wisconsin laws. Criminal negligence is a legal definition created by the legislature in drafting the Wisconsin criminal code. The elements of crimes involving negligence require proof of criminal negligence, a higher degree of negligence than ordinary negligence.

Murder Under Mitigating Circumstances

Under Wisconsin laws, a murder committed under mititgating circumstances is a second degree intentional homicide. Among others, Wisconsin law recognizes coercion, necessity, self defense, defense of others, provation (heat of passion murder), prevention of a felony, and mental disease or defect (causing a diminished mental capacity).

Attempted Murder - Hiring A Hit

Under Wisconsin law, an attempted crime such as murder is charged as the completed crime even if the crime is not completed. Any act towards committing the crime can result in a charge for the completed crime. The act of hiring a 'hit man' to commit a murder is taking a step towards completing the crime, and would be charged as the completed crime of First Degree Homicide, an intentional murder. First Degree Intentional Homicide is a class A Felony offense.

Burden of Proof

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

In a murder trial, the state prosecutor must prove each element of the crime "beyond a reasonable doubt". Beyond a reasonable doubt is sometimes referred to as "beyond the shadow of a doubt".

While that standard may seem a difficult one to meet, many a well-intentioned jury make that mistake every day and convict innocent people. Criminal trials are meant to prove guilt, but often times, a defendant must prove innocence; at the very minimum, a defendant must defend his or her innocence, particularly in murder tirals.

Avoid False Murder Convictions

While there are no guarantees on the outcome of a trial when a person is facing charges for Felony Murder, First Degree Intentional Homicide or Vehicular Homicide, you can take steps to ensure that you have done everything possible to avoid a mistaken conviction. "Who" represents you and defends you against very serious criminal charges is the single most important factor in your control and the single most important decision you will make in preparing to defend yourself against a state attorney who likely possesses years of experience trying murder and homicide cases. When you place your trust into the hands of the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood, you can rest assured that you have done all you can do to avoid mistaken convictions and prove your innocence in a court of law.

Court Recommended For Murder Trials

Van Wagner & Wood's attorneys have been recommended by Wisconsin Circuit Court judges when criminal trials involve murder, particularly complex murder cases. Those attorneys have earned the respect and commendation of judges and their peers for numerous homicide and murder acquittals and very serious felony defense. Van Wagner & Wood's winning record spans nearly three combined decades of criminal law repsentation in cases ranging from reckless endangerment to felony murder.

Attorney Chris Van Wagner has defended people in rural and urban counties, as well as the criminal courtrooms of Chicago, Illinois and Trenton, New Jersey. Attorney Tracey Wood has defended people against vehicular homicide charges involving drunk driving offenses, as well as conspiracy and conversion cases.

Voted The Best Criminal Defense Lawyers

The attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood have been repeatedly voted to Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers list, a very short list of a handful of highly experienced, very aggressive, professionals.

Top AV-Rated Firm

The law firm of Van Wagner & Wood is AV-rated by the other lawyers in the region, which means, in short, that the local legal community considers them a top criminal defense law firm.

Free Initial consultation

If you are under investigation for murder or homicide, if you have been arrested, if you were charged, or if you have already been convicted of murder or homicide, please contact the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood right away. Van Wagner & Wood's attorneys will give you a professional brief analysis of the case against you so that you can make the necessary decisions about your future course of defense.

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