Homicide

Criminal cases that involve another person’s death present the most challenging and high-stake controversies that Wisconsin criminal attorneys handle. In this type of case, more than any other, a defense attorney’s experience representing clients facing a homicide charge is crucial to any hope of achieving success.

The Wisconsin homicide attorney group at Mastantuono & Coffee has practice experience and expertise in the following types of cases:

  • First Degree Intentional Homicide
  • Second Degree Intentional Homicide
  • First Degree Reckless Homicide
  • Second Degree Reckless Homicide
  • Felony Murder
  • Homicide by Intoxicated Use of a Motor Vehicle
  • Homicide by Intoxicated Use of a Firearm

Wisconsin Homicide Defense Attorney

In Wisconsin criminal law, homicide is the legal designation for ‘death at the hands of another’. Individuals facing homicide charges and their family members often have many questions, including the following:

  • What was the cause of death?
  • Is cause of death attributed to another person or source?
  • What evidence supports the conclusion that the accused caused the death of another?
  • Was the death scene adequately preserved and recorded?
  • Was the death investigation conducted properly and thoroughly?
  • Was there an interrogation, and if so, what facts were known to detectives at that time?
  • Was follow-up investigation pursued in an unbiased and complete manner?
  • Were our client’s rights violated during the investigation?

At Mastantuono & Coffee, investigating and answering these questions is typical of the type of case review we bring to any client charged with criminal homicide. Our firm has established a reputation for putting the prosecution case itself on trial, analyzing every detail and reason why the police and prosecutors blame our client for homicide, questioning them where the evidence suggests another finding, and working with top forensic experts at arriving at our own conclusions. Police and prosecutors don’t always get it right, even in cases this important, and we know how to expose this. The homicide attorney group at Mastantuono & Coffee has produced results that have allowed our clients to go free after being charged with the most serious crime of all.

If you or a loved one is accused in any homicide-related case, call us right away we can help.

Wisconsin Homicide Charges

Following is a brief summary and exact language of selected Wisconsin homicide statutes.  

Intentional Homicide:

Wisconsin law recognizes two types of intentional homicide, first-degree and second-degree, based upon the defendant’s mental state and the presence of specific mitigating circumstances.

First-degree intentional homicide is defined as causing the death of another human being with intent to kill that person or another.

Second-degree intentional homicide is defined as causing the death of another human being with intent to kill that person or another, where specific circumstances exist that diminish, or lesson the defendants culpability (legal responsibility). For example, where the defendant was highly provoked, used unnecessary defensive force, or acted out of coercion or necessity. Each of these circumstances is defined by law, and can be further explained to you in detail in a personal consultation with Mastantuono & Coffee’s legal team.

Wisconsin Statute 940.01: First-Degree Intentional Homicide

(1) Offenses. (a) Except as provided in sub. (2), whoever causes the death of another human being with intent to kill that person or another is guilty of a Class A felony.

(b) Except as provided in sub. (2), whoever causes the death of an unborn child with intent to kill that unborn child, kill the woman who is pregnant with that unborn child or kill another is guilty of a Class A felony.

(2) Mitigating circumstances: Wisconsin Statute 940.05: Second-Degree Intentional Homicide. The following are affirmative defenses to prosecution under this section which mitigate the offense to 2nd-degree intentional homicide under s. 940.05:

(a) Adequate provocation. Death was caused under the influence of adequate provocation as defined in s. 939.44.

(b) Unnecessary defensive force. Death was caused because the actor believed he or she or another was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that the force used was necessary to defend the endangered person, if either belief was unreasonable.

(c) Prevention of felony. Death was caused because the actor believed that the force used was necessary in the exercise of the privilege to prevent or terminate the commission of a felony, if that belief was unreasonable.

(d) Coercion; necessity. Death was caused in the exercise of a privilege under s. 939.45(1).

(3) Burden of proof. When the existence of an affirmative defense under sub. (2) has been placed in issue by the trial evidence, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the facts constituting the defense did not exist in order to sustain a finding of guilt under sub. (1).

Reckless Homicide

First-degree reckless homicide is defined as recklessly causing the death of another human being under circumstances that show utter disregard for human life.

Wisconsin Statute section 940.02: First-Degree Reckless Homicide

(1) Whoever recklessly causes the death of another human being under circumstances which show utter disregard for human life is guilty of a Class B felony.

(1m) Whoever recklessly causes the death of an unborn child under circumstances that show utter disregard for the life of that unborn child, the woman who is pregnant with that unborn child or another is guilty of a Class B felony.

(2) Whoever causes the death of another human being under any of the following circumstances is guilty of a Class C felony:

(a) By manufacture, distribution or delivery, in violation of s. 961.41, of a controlled substance included in schedule I or II under ch. 961. This paragraph applies:

1. Whether the human being dies as a result of using the controlled substance or controlled substance analog by itself or with any compound, mixture, diluent or other substance mixed or combined with the controlled substance or controlled substance analog.

2. Whether or not the controlled substance or controlled substance analog is mixed or combined with any compound, mixture, diluent or other substance after the violation of s. 961.41 occurs.

3. To any distribution or delivery described in this paragraph, regardless of whether the distribution or delivery is made directly to the human being who dies. If possession of the controlled substance included in schedule I or II under ch. 961 is transferred more than once prior to the death as described in this paragraph, each person who distributes or delivers the controlled substance is guilty under this paragraph.

(b) By administering or assisting in administering a controlled substance included in schedule I or II under ch. 961 without lawful authority to do so, to another human being and that human being dies as a result of the use of the substance.

Wisconsin Statute section 940.06: Second-degree Reckless Homicide

(1) Whoever recklessly causes the death of another human being is guilty of a Class D felony.

(2) Whoever recklessly causes the death of an unborn child is guilty of a Class D felony.

Felony Murder

Felony murder is defined as causing the death of another human being while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense.

Wisconsin Statute 940.03: Felony murder

Whoever causes the death of another human being while committing or attempting to commit a crime specified in may be imprisoned for not more than 15 years in excess of the maximum term of imprisonment provided by law for that crime or attempt.

Homicide by Intoxicated Use of a Motor Vehicle or a Firearm is defined as causing the death of another by the operation or handling of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, or causing the death of another with a firearm while under the influence of an intoxicant.

Wisconsin Statute 940.09: Homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle or firearm

(1) Any person who does any of the following may be penalized as provided in sub. (1c):

(a) Causes the death of another by the operation or handling of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, or while the person has a prohibited alcohol concentration.

(am) Causes the death of another by the operation or handling of a vehicle while the person has a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in his or her blood.

. . .


(c) Causes the death of an unborn child by the operation or handling of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, or while the person has a prohibited alcohol concentration.

(cm) Causes the death of an unborn child by the operation or handling of a vehicle while the person has a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in his or her blood.

(1c)(a) Except as provided in par. (b), a person who violates sub. (1) is guilty of a Class D felony.

(b) A person who violates sub. (1) is guilty of a Class C felony if the person has one or more prior convictions, suspensions, or revocations, as counted under s. 343.307(2).

(1d) A person who violates sub. (1) is subject to the requirements and procedures for installation of an ignition interlock device under s. 343. 301.

(1g) Any person who does any of the following is guilty of a Class D felony:

(a) Causes the death of another by the operation or handling of a firearm while under the influence of an intoxicant.

(am) Causes the death of another by the operation or handling of a firearm while the person has a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in his or her blood.

(b) Causes the death of another by the operation or handling of a firearm while the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

(c) Causes the death of an unborn child by the operation or handling of a firearm while under the influence of an intoxicant.

(cm) Causes the death of an unborn child by the operation or handling of a firearm while the person has a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in his or her blood.

(d) Causes the death of an unborn child by the operation or handling of a firearm while the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.