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Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner
Attorney Tracey A. Wood
Criminal Defense Attorneys, Madison, Wisconsin

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Christopher T. Van Wagner, Attorney at Law, Criminal & DUI Defense

Attorney Christopher Van WagnerAttorney Christopher T. Van Wagner, three-time Martin Hanson Advocate Prize honoree for numerous homicide acquittals, repeatedly awarded Wisconsin Super Lawyers for criminal defense and white collar criminal defense, continual "AV" peer review rating for superior legal knowledge and ethics, and "Warrior of the Year" recipient for a particularly difficult murder case is a federal and state of Wisconsin criminal defense attorney with a twenty-year plus stellar trial record including a decade of acquittals (not guilty verdicts) on every sexual assault jury trial he has handled. Attorney Van Wagner is a frequent legal analyst and criminal trial commentator for local and national networks including Court TV with anchor Nancy Grace, the Dan Abrams Report on MSNBC, The Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, Madison Channel 27 and Madison Channel 3000 (C3K), as well as the Wisconsin State Journal, and his BLOG. Attorney Van Wagner lectures at state and national trial skills seminars for lawyers, often on developing creative strategies in criminal defense. Straight-talking discussions on criminal law issues and concerns in Wisconsin in Wisconsin Law BLOG.

[Successful Criminal & DUI Defense] [Wisconsin Super Lawyers 2008]
[Past Super Lawyers Awards] [Martin Hanson Advocate Prize] [AV Rating]

Tracey A. Wood, Attorney at Law, Criminal & DUI Defense

Attorney Tracey Wood Attorney Tracey A. Wood, repeated Wisconsin Super Lawyers honoree, only criminal defense attorney named to Wisconsin Top 25 Women in Law by Super Lawyers, first Wisconsin attorney ever appointed to the Board of Regents for the National College for DUI Defense, first female attorney ever and youngest member ever to serve as Regent to the NCDD and first Wisconsin attorney appointment as a Sobriety Field Test Instructor, is widely regarded as Wisconsin's foremost authority on drunk driving laws & defenses, author of Challenging Prior Under the Influence Convictions, contribution author to DUI Defense (a DUI defense attorney's bible), and currently writing a treatise on Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws for Lawyers & Judges. Attorney Wood is the president of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the largest organization for criminal and drunk driving defense attorneys in the state of Wisconsin. She often contributes to the formation of DUI (aka OWI & DWI) laws across the nation, and frequently notes highlights about OWI laws in BLOG.

[Successful Criminal & DUI Defense] [Wisconsin Super Lawyers 2008]
[Past Super Lawyers Awards] [Challenging Prior OWI Convictions] [NCDD] [WACDL]

A handful of Van Wagner & Wood's recent cases are highlighted below, along with some of the feature stories in which they have contributed the defense attorney's viewpoint or provided a legal analysis of Wisconsin law.

Awards & Honors

Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner
Wisconsin Super Lawyers

Super Lawyer Christopher T. Van WagnerSuper Lawyer Christopher T. Van WagnerChristopher T. Van Wagner

Super Lawyers awards Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner with Wisconsin Super Lawyers for the categories of Criminal Defense & White Collar Crime. Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner was among a handful of criminal defense lawyers to be distinguished by Wisconsin Super Lawyers. [Chris Van Wagner, Wisconsin Super Lawyers]

Attorney Tracey A. Wood
Wisconsin Super Lawyers
Top 25 Women in Law

Attorney Tracey Wood named to Wisconsin Super Lawyers 2008 & Top 25 Women in LawWisconsin Super Lawyers 2008 Names Tracey Wood to Super Lawyers & Top 25 Women in WisconsinAttorney Tracey wood

Super Lawyers awards Attorney Tracey Wood with Wisconsin Super Lawyers for the categories of Drunk Driving Defense, White Collar Defense, and Criminal Defense. Attorney Tracey A. Wood received the dual honor of being named to Wisconsin's Top 25 Women in Law. She was among a handful of criminal defense lawyers to be distinguished with Wisconsin Super Lawyers, and the only criminal traffic defense lawyer to be named to Top 25 Women. Awarded Super Lawyers and the only criminal defense lawyer named to the Top 25 Women In Law. [Tracey Wood, Wisconsin Super Lawyers]

Attorney Tracey A. Wood
Women in Law

Attorney Tracey Wood named to Wisconsin Super Lawyers 2008 & Top 25 Women in LawAttorney Tracey wood

Attorney Tracey A. Wood was selected as one of only 20 female attorneys in Wisconsin by Wisconsin Law Journal for the honor of "Top Women in Law."

Wisconsin Law Journal recognized Tracey Wood for her achievements as a female attorney in Wisconsin. Tracey is both a successful lawyer recognized for her extensive expertise in drunk driving and criminal law and a single mother raising two children. She leads Wisconsin's largest organization for criminal defense lawyers, WACDL, serves on the Board of Regents for the National College for DUI Defense, and is the past president of the Dane County Criminal Defense Bar Association. She routinely devotes her personal time and energies to helping other youth develop their skills and talents through the Music Theatre of Madison and Broadway Kidz Wisconsin. She also manages her son's successful modeling, singing and acting career.


Wisconsin's First Attorney Tracey A. Wood Appointed To NCDD Board

Attorney Wood is Wisconsin's First Ever Regent To The National College for DUI Defense Regent

Wisconsin Annual Drunk Driving Defense SeminarMontgomery, Alabama. Attorney Tracey A. Wood is Wisconsin's first ever attorney to be appointed to the twelve member governing board for the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD). Attorney Wood is also the only female attorney ever appointed to the board to serve along side a host of the nation's most formidable drunk driving defense attorneys. The membership of the National College for DUI Defense represents the country's most experienced DUI defense attorneys. The board members teach across the nation and are expert advisors in the area of drunk driving defense law. Tracey Wood ought to be right at home; she is Wisconsin's foremost authority on drunk driving laws and defense strategies. The National College for DUI Defense was awarded the American Bar Association's "Certificate of Accreditation" in 2004, and is the only organization in the country accredited to certify lawyers in the DUI Defense law specialty practice area. [Tracey Wood, Regent NCDD]

Martin Hanson Advocate's Prize

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinAttorney Christopher T. Van Wagner Honored with Hanson Prize

Attorney Van Wagner Is Three Time Honoree Of The Distinguished Award

MADISON WISCONSIN. Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner was honored with the Martin Hanson Advocate's Prize for numerous homicide acquittals.

Each year, the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers honors criminal defense attorneys practicing in Wisconsin who have won an acquittal in a homicide case or secured a dismissal on the merits of the case. The Martin Hanson Advocate's Prize is named in honor of a Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer regarded as one of the state's finest for his generation and the founder of WACDL. [Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner] [Martin Hanson Advocate's Prize]


Wood President of Wisconsin Association Of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Attorney Tracey A. Wood - President - The Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Wisconsin Annual Drunk Driving Defense SeminarMADISON, WISCONSIN. Attorney Tracey A. Wood was voted in as the new president of the largest and most active association of criminal defense lawyers in the state of Wisconsin - the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Attorney Tracey A. Wood will serve in her position as president for two years. [Attorney Tracey Wood president]

"Warrior Of The Year"

Attorney Chris Van Wagner Named Warrior of the year by dane county defense bar

Van Wagner Named Warrior Of The YearMADISON, WISCONSIN. Attorney Chris Van Wagner was named "Warrior of the Year" by the Dane County Defense Bar after a particularly difficult homicide case in which he defended a previous district attorney against attempted murder charges. [Attorney Chris Van Wagner]

Recent Cases

DUI Overturned & 'Operate a Vehicle' Defined

Attorney Tracey Wood, Drunk Driving AppealsAttorney Tracey A. Wood successfully argued to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals for her client on the true definiton of word 'operate' as used in Wisconsin's statutory laws prohibiting operating a motor vehicle while under the influence.

Attorney Wood's client had beeen arrested in Beloit, Wisconsin, tried and convicted in the Beloit Municipal Court. Her client appealed to the Rock County Circuit Court, and again lost. The trial court erred in allowing the City to argue that simply hands on a steering wheel constitute the act of 'operating' a motor vehicle.
See: [ Beloit DUI Conviction Overturned ] [ Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws ] [ Attorney Tracey Wood ]

5 Open Carry Charges Dismissed

When five gun rights activists wore guns holstered on their hips at a Culver's Restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, a customer dining there called 911 and an onslaught of unmarked and marked police cars arrived shortly afterwards. The five were cited with disorderly conduct, two members received additional obstruction citations for failing to identify themselves. Wisconsin Carry hired Attorney Christopher Van Wagner to represent the five Wisconsin Carry individuals.

"No one was disturbed by anything they did," Van Wagner said.

All charges against the five individuals were dismissed. [Journal Times]

"Major" National Media Case Settled With Minor fine

Wisconsin -vs- Carnell, Wisconsin Dells Extreme World Thrill Ride Operator
attorney christopher t. van wagner defending

Attorney Chris Van Wagner defends Wisconsin Dells Extreme World Ride Operator Charles CarnellWISCONSIN DELLS, WISCONSIN. Charles Carnell, a 34-year operator at the famous "Extreme World" ride in Wisconsin Dells was charged with Felony First Degree Reckless Injury by a Sauk County District Attorney. Carnell faced 25 years in prison on the original charges of Felony First Degree Reckless Injury, and fines up to $100,000.

Attorney Christopher Van Wagner, criminal defense lawyer for Carnell, negotiated a plea settlement with the Sauk County District Attorney to reduce charges down to Second Degree Reckless Injury, a Class D Felony carrying penalties of up to 12-1/2 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

Attorney Christopher Van Wagner appeared on a special segment interview on the CBS Early Show, explaining why the criminal charges against Carnell weren't proper, why he was at work only two weeks after the accident and what Carnell said had happened during the accident, See: [Attorney Van Wagner]  [Reckless Injury]  [ Carnell Sentenced $268 Fine] [CBS Early Show]


Not Guilty! Multiple Counts Sexual Assault Of Child

Wausau Wisconsin Jury Trial
attorney christopher t. van wagner defending

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinWAUSAU WISCONSIN. Scott A. Ramker of Colby, Wisconsin was found not guilty of three felony counts of First Degree Sexual Assault of a Child by a Marathon County Circuit Court jury after just over three hours of deliberations, with Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner defending. Mr. Ramker was falsely accused of these sexual assaults in 2007. With this verdict, Mr. Ramker is now able to move forward with his career plans, which had been put on hold while he and his attorney, Chris Van Wagner, fought these charges.


DISMISSED! 9 Felony Charges of Sexual Assault Of Child

Portage Wisconsin
attorney christopher t. van wagner defending

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinPORTAGE WISCONSIN. "She was a victim, not an offender," said Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner, "[she is] greatly relieved that the charges have been dismissed ... justice has been served."

Eldridge was charged with 9 felony counts of Sexual Assault Of Child, including one Felony B 1st Degree Child Sexual Assault, six Felony C 2nd Degree Sexual Assault, one count of Causing a Child to View or Listen to Sexual Activity, a Felony F offense and another Felony H for Causing a Child between 13-18 years of age to view or listen to sexual activity.

All charges were dismissed, but if the case had gone to trial, her defense attorney, Christopher Van Wagner, said he would have proven that Eldridge "was the victim of an outrageous sexual assault at the hands of the alleged co-defendant."

The special prosecutor said that he would certainly consider filing new charges when the minor children reached 18 years of age. Attorney Van Wagner retorted, "We'll be back to prove (her innocence) then."

[Portage Daily Register - 9 Felony Counts of Sexual Assault Dismissed] [Charges Dismissed]

Not Guilty! Sexual Assault

Madison Wisconsin Jury
attorney christopher t. van wagner defending

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinMADISON WISCONSIN. A Madison, Wisconsin jury delivered their verdict today finding Robert G. Sutter of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin not guilty on all counts of second degree sexual assault. Charges brought by the State of Wisconsin alleged Sutter had engaged in repeated acts of sexual assault. Second degree sexual assault is a felony under Wisconsin law.

Chris Van Wagner said, "Mr. Sutter is relieved to have been exonerated by the not guilty verdict."

[Sutter acquitted on both counts of second degree sexual assault] [Charges]


Not guilty! sexual assault of unconscious victim

Madison Wisconsin Jury
Attorney Wood Defending

Attorney Tracey Wood, Drunk Driving AppealsMADISON WISCONSIN. In a recent jury trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious victim, Attorney Tracey Wood won an outright acquittal. Sexual assault of an unconscious victim is a class BC Felony. A conviction on this charge would have subjected the defendant to sentencing for the charge, which could have included imprisonment in a Wisconsin state prison, a fine, or both. In addition to prison and fines, sexual assault charges also carry additional penalties, such as lifetime supervision and sex offender reporting.

Not Guilty! Sexual Assault

Prairie du Chien Wisconsin Court - Jury Trial
Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner Defending

Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. A Crawford County jury found Frank Pintz not guilty of multiple counts of sexual assault after a week of medical testimony presented by district attorney Tim Baxter. Attorney Christopher Van Wagner said that it was the jury's ability to look beyond the emotion, and focus on the evidence that prevailed. [Wisconsin State Journal] [Article] [DA Slows Case]

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinAttorney Christopher T. Van Wagner, expert criminal law advisor and legal analyst, presents at Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL) seminar, Sexual Assault Defense - The Whole Case: Fighting More Than Just the Accuser.

Attorney Christopher Van Wagner frequently represents people who have been accused of a sex based crime, such as sexual assault.


Reversed Criminal Appeal
On Drunk Driving Conviction

Wisconsin Court of Appeals
Attorney Tracey Wood Defending

Attorney Tracey Wood, Drunk Driving AppealsMADISON WISCONSIN. Wisconsin Court of Appeals (14 February 2008). When a Wisconsin State Police Trooper made an illegal stop and thought his expert witness testimony and numerous prior drunk driving arrests (80+ per year) would suffice to get that evidence into a Wisconsin Circuit Court trial, he was right, and it even ended in a conviction for refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test.

Then that client hired Attorney Tracey Wood to appeal his case, and the Wisconsin Court of Appeals agreed with Attorney Wood that a mere gradual crossing over the fog line does not constitute probable cause for a stop, and search and seizure of a person.

To stop a person and detain them, even for a short period of time, is a seizure under the Constitution of the United States, and for that, there must be reasonable justification and sufficient probable cause.

Wisconsin Court of Appeals applied a two-prong test for the Constitutional questions. In doing so, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals found "the stop was illegal and the evidence obtained from that stop was "fruit of the illegal traffic stop" that, without the evidence, the conviction could not be sustained." The conviction was reversed.

[Police Stop Illegal - Crossing The Lines]

Not Guilty! Murder Charges

Madison Wisconsin Jury
Attorney Christopher Van Wagner Defending

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney Wisconsin"We are not just happy," Chris Van Wagner said, "We are relieved."

MADISON, WISCONSIN. Does use of a firearm include "loading the firearm, leaving it in plain view, drinking heavily with the potentially suicidal DeeAnn Foust in close proximity to the loaded firearm?'' they asked, "or does `use' relate only to how the firearm was used between 5:30 and 6 p.m.?''

The judge replied that it applied only to that half hour, when the shooting occurred.

"I feel justice was done. I think Chris did a helluva job,'' Staton said later. He retained his composure when the verdicts were read, while Van Wagner bowed his head, suppressing an exultant grin. Staton patted Van Wagner's cheek, as if to soothe him, then peered over his glasses at departing jurors. [Staton Acquitted] [Murder]

Under Wisconsin law, an attempt crime of murder is charged as the full crime. [First Degree Intentional Homicide]

Wood Wins Case previously lost By Defendant

Rights Waived Without Realization

At trial, Eller waived her right to a jury trial before she waived her right to counsel. The court explained to her that she would be held to the same standards and expected to possess the same knowledge that an attorney would be in a case. Eller reconsidered, and asked for a Public Defender, but the damage already had been done. The court proceeded on her waiver of a jury trial and found her guilty of a third drunk driving offense.

In a pro se hearing, many things take place during the court proceedings that a pro se (representing one's self) defendant may miss. The system proceeds upon the understanding that the litigants in the courtroom fully and completely understand the entire body of criminal law and the court's procedures. Aside from experienced criminal defense attorneys, most people do not possess that high degree of legal technical knowledge.

Wood Appeals Pro Se Defendant's Case
Wood Wins On Appeal

Criminal Appeals Attorney Tracey WoodAttorney Tracey Wood successfully argued to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals that Eller was tried unfairly. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals agreed with Attorney Wood, reversed the trial court's decision, and instructed the trial court to hold a new trial.

[State of Wisconsin v. Eller] [Appeals] [Pro Se Representation] [Trial Proceedings] [Drunk Driving Law] [Prior Drunk Driving Convictions] [Attorney Tracey Wood]

Not Guilty! Murder, Endangerment

20-year Madison man charged with murder and endangerment after a drive-by shooting
Attorney Chris Van Wagner Defending

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinAttorney Chris Van Wagner representing. Jury acquits on all counts.

MADISON, WISCONSIN. Covarrubias remained passive as Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan read the not guilty verdicts. But his mother, who along with other relatives had been present for the duration of the week-long trial, put her head in her hands and wept. Other friends grinned and nodded to one another, and after the jury had filed from the courtroom, Covarrubias arose to hug his attorney, Christopher Van Wagner.

"Justice has been served," said one of the numerous relatives present.

The case boiled down to whether the jury would believe Moore's version of events or that of Covarrubias and two alibi witnesses. That a shooting occurred was not at issue. Assistant District Attorney Paul Humphrey showed evidence of several bullets having struck the apartment building where Moore lived, with several of them entering the building, including one which grazed a sleeping tenant in an apartment. Amazingly, no one was seriously hurt in the shooting. [Covarrubias Acquitted Of Murder]

3rd OWI Reversed - Prior Convictions Not Counted

First Offense Non-criminal Charges Instead Of 3rd Offense Misdemeanor OWI
Attorney Wood Defending

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS. A Chicago, Illinois man was charged and convicted of a third offense drunk driving violation in the state of Wisconsin. A 3rd offense OWI is a misdemeanor under Wisconsin law. In the lower trial court hearing, the man was charged with a third drunk driving offense based on two prior convictions in another state.

Tracey A. Wood Attorney at LawAfter the conviction, he contacted Attorney Tracey Wood, who argued against those prior convictions and proved the conviction wrong. On appeal, her client was charged with a first offense drunk driving, which is not a crime under Wisconsin law, instead of a third offense. [Prior OWI Convictions] [Tracey Wood] [State of Wisconsin v. 3rd OWI Defendant, Court of Appeals, Appeal from judgment of circuit court for Walworth County, Wisconsin]

Not Guilty! Negligent Vehicular Homicide
Hit-and-run Homicide

Marquette Circuit Court Jury Trial
Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner Defending

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinA jury deliberated for nearly three hours late Friday in Marquette County Circuit Court before turning in not guilty verdicts on all counts. Jon Salm, represented by Attorney Chris Van Wagner, had been charged with two counts of criminal negligent homicide and two counts of hit-and-run causing death by use of a dangerous weapon. His twin brother, Brian Salm, of Neshkoro was acquitted of two counts of being a party to hit-and-run.

Freed! Probation Instead of 10-year Prison Sentence
sexual assault charges

Attorney Tracey A. Wood Defending

LawOshkosh, Wisconsin. Former Palmyra, Wisconsin child care provider Diane Mattsen received probation instead of a 10-year prison sentence. The state of Wisconsin prosecuting attorney sought to put Mattsen behind bars for 10 years. Attorney Wood obtained an order from the court to place her on probation so that she could be at home with her children. Mattsen had been charged with sexual assault for failing to stop her husband from sexually abusing children at her daycare center.

[Child Care Provider Received Probation] [Sexual Assault] [Attorney Tracey Wood]

Meng Confesses To Murder - Jury Acquits
Van Wagner Defending

Patch Grove, Grant County, Wisconsin. Not since the O. J. Simpson trial has a defendant found a more believing jury. On the charge of first-degree homicide, the 12 jurors could not reach a unanimous decision. On the much less serious charge of negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, the jury found Meng not guilty -- even though he virtually admitted as much himself.

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney Wisconsin"The jury believed what Bob Meng told them about the shooting and that he lied to police when he was arrested," Meng's attorney, Chris Van Wagner, said moments after the verdict was announced. Obviously so.

[Meng Acquitted Of Murder] [Murder]

Acquitted Of 153 Military Vehicle Theft From Fort McCoy - 3 Convicted

Tracey WoodAttorney Tracey Wood Wins Acquittal In the largest military theft known, three other people were convicted

Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. (Western District Federal Court, Madison, Wisconsin). In the largest known military base theft case involving five people charged with conspiracy and conversion of military property, Attorney Tracey Wood's client, David Butler, was one of only two people acquitted (found not guilty). Three others were sentenced to Federal prison with sentences of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine for conversion and another five year prison term and $250,000 fine for each count of conspiracy. [Fort McCoy Largest Conversion (Theft) & Conspiracy Acquittal]

District Attorney rules against charging
fatal Wisconsin Dells crash

A Dreadful Accident, A Mourning Driver, But Not A Crime

WISCONSIN DELLS, WISCONSIN - Cedarburg, Wisconsin. 2007 April 17 - The attorney [Chris Van Wagner] for Jason Reed said his client is relieved that he will not be criminally charged for his role in the accident that killed three Cedarburg residents Don Rintelman, Brian Rintelman, and TJ Beck in the Wisconsin Dells last year - but said Reed still mourns over his role in the accident.

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney Wisconsin"There's not a day that goes by that he doesn't wake up and think of those families," said Christopher Van Wagner of Van Wagner & Wood in Madison, Wisconsin. [Crash Won't Bring Criminal Case, JS Online]

The prosecuting attorneys said that Jason Reed would be ticketed for speeding at 8 mph over the limit, inattentive driving and not wearing seat belt.



4th Drunk Driving Offense Overturned

Attorney Tracey Wood wins appeal for client convicted of 4th offense drunk driving

4th Drunk Driving Offense OverturnedMadison, Wisconsin; Wisconsin State Court of Appeals. Attorney Tracey A. Wood successfully argued and won an appeal to the State of Wisconsin Court of Appeals overturning a fourth offense drunk driving conviction. Michael Friedman, charged with 4th offense OWI, a crime in the state of Wisconsin with mandatory jail time and stiff fines, had been convicted on evidence presented to the court that tilted the jury and their perspective of his case to find him guilty of a fourth offense drunk driving conviction. Attorney Tracey Wood argued that the evidence was improperly presented, and that evidence together with an Illinois traffic citation were used to improperly convict Friedman. The Court of Appeals agreed with Attorney Tracey Wood's logical arguments, reversed the lower court's decision and remanded the case for a new trial consistent with the appellate court instruction. [State of Wisconsin vs. Michael Friedman, 4th offense OWI, Wisconsin Court of Appeals Reversed]

criminal cases & drunk driving offenses in the headlines

Carrying Concealed Weapon Laws & Castle Doctrine

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinMadison's acclaimed Vicki McKenna hosts Madison's learned lawyer, Attorney Chris Van Wagner, to answer the public's questions about Wisconsin's Carrying Concealed Weapon Law. Many people also asked questions about the Castle Doctrine. For answers posted in Attorney Van Wagner's BLOG live during the broadcast, please vist Wisconsin Criminal Law BLOG. The questions included the following sampling.

  • When can you pull the gun? What is the definition of the word 'threatened'? What does it mean?
  • Can I use a gun to protect my family in my home and my property with the new Carrying Concealed Weapon law?
  • Am I liable for someone being shop on my business premises? What if I prohibit concealed carry? Am I liable then? Should I search visitors to my business?
  • What happens if you miss and do property damage or kill or injure another person?
  • Is an empty gun inside of a case concealed?
  • Can I carry concealed in a vehicle?
  • What is my castle? Can I carry concealed on my apartment complex?

Man Arrested for 12th drunk driving offense (OWI)
with IID - ignition interlock device

MADISON, WISCONSIN. A Verona, Wisconsin man with an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in his vehicle was arrested for a twelfth drunk driving offense (OWI - 12th), possessing a prohibited alcohol concentration level in his blood (PAC), and hit and run after returning to the scene of a hit-and-run he had committed earlier in the evening.

Ignition Interlock Device installed for Wisconsin man charged with 12th OWI DUI Drunk DrivingWith this being his 12th drunk driving offense, an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) had already been court ordered and installed on his vehicle. Accordingly, he ought not have been able to drive given that his blood alcohol level was over the limit. While police are pointing a finger as the Verona man for having someone blow into the IID so that he could drive, an accusation that Attorney Christopher Van Wagner finds absurd, the fact remains that there are many explanations: perhaps the ignition interlock device malfunctioned, or maybe he was not over the limit when he started the vehicle but was at the time of arrest.

Read more:  Man Arrested On OWI 12th Charges  |  Man Arrested For Drunk Driving With IID  |  IID: Ignition Interlock Device | Attorney Christopher Van Wagner | Attorney Tracey Wood

defendants challenging reasonable suspicion to seize and probable cause to arrest

are evidentiary hearings required?

Attorney Tracey Wood already knows that the practice of denying evidentiary hearings to people who have been put through the rigors of a search and seizure culminating in an arrest is commonplace in Dane County, but, she says, "I have not run into this in any other county," Other Wisconsin Circuit Courts grant evidentiary hearings when the charge is operating while intoxicated. Hearings are also granted when a client claims that his or her statements to police were involuntary.

The precedents in cases involving an arrest without a warrant have long held that the state then bears the burden of proof in showing that probable cause existed, and the defendant need only request an evidentiary hearing alleging that he or she was arrested without a warrant. Searches without a warrant are presumed unreasonable, and arrests with a warrant within a home are presumed unlawful. There is however no presumption that an arrest for drunk driving without a warrant is unlawful. Nevertheless, the burden of proof as to the legality of the search, seizure and arrest should remain on the state. That is however not the opinion of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

Attorney Wood opined that there would be a substantial amount of litigation in the area of the law. Attorney Wood was also the first attorney in Wisconsin to successfully outline the mechanisms of the law through which a person charged with an OWI (Wisconsin Drunk Driving charge) could challenge prior operating under the influence convictions in this and other states.

involuntary statements

Involuntary statements can be inculptory evidence, which means, in short, statements that incriminate or tend to incriminate oneself or another in a crime or other wrongdoing.

Legal Precedents

Precedents in law are previously held rules, decisions and interpretations of the law that were so accurate that they have withstood the tests of time in numerous subsequent cases.

Van Wagner & Wood's Wisconsin Courtroom Experience
Pays Off For their Clients

meanwhile orders to "Go directly to jail, do not pass go, forfeit on the way" surprise others

When a Waukesha County Circuit Court judge announced that he would be sending convicted drunk driving offenders to jail immediately upon conviction, it sent a chill through many of Wisconsin's drunk driving defense lawyers who don't often have a good feel for a particular courtroom or judge's standard practices.

Attorney Tracey Wood of Van Wagner & Wood, S. C. in Madison Wisconsin said that she is familiar with the judges she appears before, and "Any lawyer who knows what they are doing [in drunk driving cases] is going to know the judge and know the county they practice in."

Wood added, "I do trust judges and I've never had one surprise me in that way. I would be shocked if [that] ever happened."

Tracey Wood is well regarded as Wisconsin's foremost authority on drunk driving laws. She has handled more than 2,000 OWI cases in Wisconsin courts, is the author of Challenging Prior OWI Convictions, contributing author to DUI Defense, President-elect of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Wisconsin's only Board of Regents member to the National College for DUI Defense.

Read the story | Immediate Jail Following Convictions For Drunk Driving |

Wisconsin Reported #1 in Drunk Driving?

Attorney Tracey Wood, Wisconsin's foremost authority on drunk driving, addresses a new survey on NBC15 Madison, which points to Wisconsin as the #1 worse Drunk Driving state

Attorney Tracey Wood Madison

In an exclusive interview with Tracey Wood, questions the shameful results of a resent survey issued by the feds that names Wisconsin as the #1 worse state for drunken drivers.

Where did they get THOSE facts?

Apparently, the survey released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Department of Health & Human Services) didn't read the recent studies released by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, which says that... | Read More |
Nationwide Report
Wisconsin DOT Crash & Fatality Report


Pure Erotic Enticing Cybersex Stings Rated As Outrageous Police Conduct

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinBARABOO, WISCONSIN. A Baraboo man appeared in Sauk County Circuit Court along with his attorney, Chris Van Wagner, to face charges on first-degree sexual assault of a child after a March 2007 series of Internet cybersex stings conducted by Sauk County Police. Van Wagner previously referred to the rash of cybersex stings as "outrageous police conduct", and to the messaging transcripts as "pure erotic enticement!"

When videotapes of interviews of Lemoine and the girl involved were presented to the judge by the prosecuting attorney (Patricia Barrett), Van Wagner said he was not conceding that the tapes might prove that his client should face trial. Van Wagner & Barrett will present written arguments to the judge before the preliminary hearing scheduled for December 6.

Sexual assault of a minor (first-degree sexual assault) is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 60 years imprisonment - the same sentence a person convicted of second degree intentional homicide or kidnapping faces. Additionally, persons convicted of first-degree sexual assault often must register as a sex offender and receive lifetime supervision.

Legal Analysis & Commentaries

Questionable Court Filings Against Sandusky

MADISON WI. Numerous requests for restraining orders against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky have been filed in several federal courts across the nation. One such request filed in the Western District Federal Court in Madison, Wisconsin by a Philadelphia man claiming to be related to Sandusky stated that he was sexually touched in 2002. Sandusky denied the relative. The address of the Philadelphia man was found to be a comedy club. A filing with an Ohio-based court was submitted by someone named Tom N. Jerry.

Madison attorney and former federal prosecutor, Chris Van Wagner said that if someone filed these court requests falsely, accusations of contempt, false swearing or even conspiracy were potentially available to judges and prosecutors if the responsible person or people were identified.

ABC WKOW 27 reports:

Judge Moeser Retires - A Great Loss To all

“It’s absolutely a great loss to all of us, there’s no question about that,” Madison defense attorney Chris Van Wagner said. “He’s a wonderful man, a gentleman, with a great sense of humor and a lot of common sense.”

Wisconsin State Journal

Rock County Wisconsin District Attorney Files Charges In Triple Murder

JANESVILLE, WISCONSIN. Exactly one year to the date, a triple homicide in Janesville, Wisconsin stunned the local community and sent shock waves throughout Madison and the surrounding area. When the Rock County District Attorney failed to file charges against a man suspected of committing the murders, the public turned to former federal prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney Chris Van Wagner for an explanation. (January 2007 newscast, A Perspective On Murder Cases)

Chris Van Wagner said, "The suspect is in jail on drunk driving charges. He isn't going anywhere. In the meantime, the sheriff wants to be sure that he has investigated the crime thoroughly, and the prosecutor wants to be sure he has a solid case."

Element Of Crime | Murder - First Degree Intentional Homicide | Chris Van Wagner


Jensen Gets A New Trial

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinWisconsin Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Chris Van Wagner comments on the errors in Jensen's original trial

MADISON, WISCONSIN. [BLOG] According to Chris Van Wagner, Jensen's original trial was baked wrong. Jensen was found guilty on three felony counts and one misdemeanor count involving use of state employees and equipment for campaign purposes. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed that jury verdict, and now the question is to which court the matter will go next.

Chris Van Wagner said, "When you leave out important information, or in this case, take out important information that the jury is supposed to have to decide the case, by telling them that this is what that means, as opposed to you tell us what that means, you ensure that the final product comes out baked wrong, or as in this case, an unreliable verdict."

A judge gave instructions and left out evidence that would have let the jury know just what Scott Jensen's intentions were.

Chris Van Wagner said, "The Court of Appeals said, "No, first they have to say, a) did Scott Jensen use office staff and state employees to conduct campaign business, and b) when he did so, did he intend to gain a dishonest advantage over the other side."

Attorney Steve Meyer said that he and his client, Scott Jensen, were grateful for the court's decision on these charges and now the ball is in the state's court.

Van Wagner believes that an appeal will be the only road to a conclusion for everyone.

Another state employee was also granted a new trial who had been charged separately from Jensen, but for the same crime.

Update - Jensen's Reversed Conviction: MADISON, WISCONSIN. 2007 November 25. Criminal defense attorney and legal analyst, Christopher Van Wagner explains the recent reversal by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals of Jensen's previous conviction, and the elements of law and jury rules, as well as trial procedures. [Wisconsin State Journal - Last Chance For Jensen?] [Jensen Verdict Reversed] [Setting Jensen's Record Straight]


Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney Wisconsinthe burden of proof in a sexual assault investigation

Wisconsin Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Chris Van Wagner comments on

JANESVILLE, WISCONSIN. During the recent interview of Attorney Christopher Van Wagner by Channel 3000, Madison, Wisconsin, regarding the arrest and subsequent release of Antonio Polland, Chris Van Wagner discussed the burden of proof differences between police and prosecuting attorneys, as well as prosecutors and trials. [Burden of Proof - Polland's Arrest] [Reasonable Doubt]




DUI Case Pending Lab Results? Wood Seeks Justice

Backlog at State Lab Stalls Criminal & OWI Cases

Drunk Driving ArrestMADISON, WISCONSIN. "In cases of alleged 'operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance or combination of controlled substance and alcohol,' there can be a wait of six months or more," said Madison criminal defense attorney Tracey Wood.

"That puts a huge stress on the system because cases are dismissed and then recharged when the test results come back," Wood said. "By that time, memories have faded regarding the incident, and the case is a lot tougher for both the prosecution and defense. There's also the chance that the case can get lost in the shuffle and never be prosecuted." [Criminal Cases Stalled]


Perspective On Murder

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney Wisconsin

Attorney Chris Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney
Van Wagner & Wood, Madison Wisconsin
Former Federal Prosecutor

MADISON, WISCONSIN. Madison Criminal defense attorney Chris Van Wagner, a former Federal prosecutor and state prosecutor, provided an exclusive interview with Channel 3000 to provide insight into the process and workings of a criminal homicide case. He offered explanations for why the prosecutor had not yet filed charges against alleged murder James Koepp, who was being held for a drunk driving offense. [Perspective On Criminal Murder Cases]


Criminal Defense Lawyer Van Wagner Comments On Wisconsin Dells WI Case

Wisconsin Dells, WI. 8/3/07 Wisconsin Dells District Attorney Holds Body From June 29, 2007 Vehicular Accident, Madison WI Criminal Law Defense Attorney Christopher Van Wagner Comments

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinWISCONSIN DELLS, WISCONSIN. Legal analyst and criminal law defense attorney Chris Van Wagner said he understands why prosecutors want to hang on to the body, so the defense can't appeal on that basis. But if the autopsy shows there is little question how the teen died, Van Wagner said the district attorney "could take the high road and ask a judge to release the body."

[Wisconsin Dells Vehicular Accident Results In Charges For Vehicular Homicide & Body Held]


Negligent Homicide - Criminal Negligence Difficult To Prove

Attorney Christopher T Van Wagner, Criminal Defense Attorney WisconsinLegal Analyst Attorney Chris Van Wagner - Criminal negligence As a Substantial Factor

EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN. According to Attorney Chris Van Wagner, it is not enough for the prosecution to show that Kozlowski was at fault in the crash, or even that he fell asleep. It is not even enough to show that Kozlowski was negligent. "Normal negligence is kind of like driving when you're changing the radio station... failing to exercise ordinary care," Van Wagner said. Criminal negligence is a higher degree of negligence, "Circumstances in which there is a substantial chance of death or bodily injury. Criminal negligence is an invention of the legislature. It doesn't exist in common law. [Quote Negligent Homicide,]. Van Wagner said that the prosecution must also prove causation, "... the defendant's criminal negligence has to be a substantial cause of the death." [Wisconsin vs. Kozlowski, St. Croix County, Wisconsin, Eau Claire DA] [Negligent Homicide] [Criminal Negligence]

Update: Michael Kozlowski, a 24 year old Indiana semi truck driver charged with homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle was acquitted (found not guilty).



Legal Seminars, Lectures, & CLE's

Wisconsin Annual Drunk Driving Defense Seminar

Attorney Tracey Wood Teaches Wisconsin DUI Defense Lawyers

Wisconsin Annual Drunk Driving Defense SeminarAPPLETON, WISCONSIN. Drunk driving defense lawyers from across Wisconsin gathered in Appleton for the 2007 Wisconsin Annual Drunk Driving Defense Seminar. Among the top speakers, Attorney Tracey Wood presented the segment on breath and blood testing. In most OWI cases, results from a breath or blood test are used as the primary evidence against a person arrested and charged with operating under the influence. Attorney Wood is among the top DUI expert advisors across the nation. She is a frequent guest speaker for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (vice-president), and the National College for DUI Defense (board of regents, sustaining member). Attorney Wood was a contributing author to Drunk Driving Defense by Lawrence Taylor and Stephen Oberman, author of Challenging Prior Operating Under Influence Convictions, and is currently authoring Wisconsin DUI Defense - The Law & Practice.

Click here to order offers Drunk Driving Defense, Sixth Edition, by Taylor & Oberman

Click here to download Challenging Prior Operating Under Influence Convictions

Court TV Commentator - A Jury Of Your Peers

Legal Analyst & Criminal Defense Attorney Chris Van WagnerAttorney Chris Van Wagner, Criminal Law Legal Analyst

Court TV Legal AnalystMadison defense attorney Chris Van Wagner, who kept an eye on the trial as a criminal law commentator for Court TV (now CNN Crime), said he was not surprised by either of the verdicts against Vang. "The fact that it took a shorter time than most Madison juries take reflects that it was an overwhelming case," Van Wagner said. "The defense was handicapped from the beginning by the fact that Mr. Vang shot four people in the back."

Van Wagner also said he sees no issues that Vang could present in an appeal. Vang's attorneys were not denied any evidence they wished to present, he said, and Sawyer County Circuit Judge Norman Yackel agreed to their request to pick a jury from outside northern Wisconsin.

Some of Vang's supporters have complained that because the jury lacked a Hmong member, it was not a fair panel. But Van Wagner said people are mistaken in assuming that they have a right to a trial by a jury of their peers -- they have a right to a fair and unbiased jury from their community. [Court TV - The Vang Case]






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