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Madison Criminal Law Blog

Your cellphone and your rights

You probably keep many things on your cellphone. In addition to music, pictures and your favorite apps, you may have text messages archived or favorite websites bookmarked. If you are like many in Wisconsin, your phone is password protected because of the private information it contains.

What happens if police arrest you for a crime and suspect that you have evidence on your phone? Maybe they think you have photos of the crime or text messages that give details about your involvement. You probably know that police can't search your house or car without a warrant or probable cause, but can they search your phone?

How drinking diet soda can mess up a Breathalyzer test

Summer in Wisconsin is in full swing, and if you're one of many college students home for the holiday break, you're likely enjoying some down time with friends and family. You may participate in the multitude of fun things to do throughout the state during summer months, including live music concerts, picnics, trips to the beach and more. Sometimes, however, something unexpected occurs that can ruin your summer plans, such as a police officer pulling you over on your way home from a night on the town.

You may have heard horror stories about people getting convicted on drunk driving charges who swear they never touched a drop of alcohol before getting behind the wheel. There have indeed been past situations where faulty breath tests led to convictions in court. For this reason, you'll want to be aware of several things that can cause false positives to register on breath testing devices

How do I get my property back after charges are dismissed?

While investigating a suspected crime, your property can be collected as evidence. There are several times when police can take your property: after being arrested, with a search warrant, with your consent, or during any other lawful seizure. They may collect contraband, anything which is related to a crime, or which may be evidence of any crime. Once your property is seized, it is not simply returned if you are not charged with a crime, if the charges are dismissed, or if you are acquitted.

Homicide does not only refer to murder

Many individuals consider taking another human life to be a deplorable and unforgivable act. However, some events in which a person dies may not necessarily have come about due to a conscious decision to cause fatal injuries. You may have found yourself in a situation where authorities suspect that your actions may have led to the death of another individual, but you likely did not set out to cause such injuries.

Nonetheless, you could find yourself facing serious charges relating to homicide, and you may feel overwhelmed at the idea of such serious allegations, criminal proceedings and the possibility of severe punishment if a conviction takes place. Luckily, you have the right to defend against criminal charges, and understanding the different types of homicide may prove useful to you.

Criminal defense in the age of social media

The popularity of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter have changed how we obtain information about suspected illegal activity. Before, the media was the primary factor that shaped our opinions about crime. Now, social media is quickly becoming the news source of choice for most people.

While the impact of social media on crime has the potential to be both positive and negative, too often a criminal defendant is viewed as guilty in the court of public opinion prior to getting to tell his or her side of the story.

What constitutes false sex assault allegations?

Being far away from home and family while living on a college campus can be an adventurous and rewarding experience. However, more often than not, it is typically very challenging in any number of ways. Probably, one of the worst things that can happen to you at college is facing false accusations of a crime. If a falsely alleged crime involves sex assault allegations, it may prove disastrous, not only for your college career, but your personal life and potential future professional life as well.

University of Virginia rape case shows impacts of false allegations

It was the piece in the Rolling Stone that caught the attention of the nation. A reporter followed the story of a young woman that claimed to be the victim of a fraternity gang rape on the campus of the University of Virginia. The resulting piece, "A Rape on Campus," hit newsstands at the end of 2014.

Why did the piece catch the public's attention?

The piece in the Rolling Stone is noted for its beginning. It starts with a graphic description of the alleged rape. The victim sets the scene at a fraternity house and paints a horrifying tale. A tale that is so descriptive and so horrifying that it has all the elements of a Hollywood story.

Turns out, the flow of the story was due to the fact that it was fictitious.

The most common criminal charges on Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner and many students at colleges and universities around the country are planning parties and brainstorming potential ideas for costumes. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for example, there is usually a huge party night on Halloween.

While Halloween night is definitely a time for festivity, it is important for college students to be cautious as well. Here is some information about the most common criminal charges on Halloween night.

Bail Wars: Getting You Out of Jail

Cash bail is being abused in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin attorneys at Nicholson, Gansner & Otis are fighting back.

"Bail" is defined in the Wisconsin statutes as "monetary conditions of release."

It is commonplace in Wisconsin for a court to impose thousands of dollars of cash bail in cases where a defendant is charged with a serious crime.  This means that a defendant who has been charged--but not convicted--of a serious crime must post thousands of dollars to be released from jail, or sit in jail as he (or she) awaits trial.  

Put Down The Metaphorical Pitchforks: Thoughts on the Stanford Swimmer Sexual Assault Case

Let me start with a disclaimer: I believe that "rape culture" is a real and dangerous thing. I believe that "no means no" and that when initiating sexual contact an affirmative "yes" ought to be required, despite the awkwardness such requests might present. I have "taken back the night" in multiple demonstrations over the years, and I sure as shit think that it is a very low bar, indeed, to suggest that a person be conscious when another party initiates sexual contact and/or intercourse. This is an obvious point, but an important one--simply put, I do not condone sexual assault. Before I went to law school, I worked in Victim's Rights at a DV shelter that also had a crisis line for survivors of both sexual assault and domestic violence. One of the things that motivated me to attend law school was a desire to be able to more actively participate in victim advocacy, because being in court with my clients without the ability to speak up for them was so frustrating. If you had asked me 15 years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea that I would ever be a defense attorney instead of a prosecutor. Despite that, I have spent the past decade defending individuals accused of crimes. My case load is not comprised of the casual college-student pot smokers I envisioned representing, but rather is largely composed of sex crimes, crimes of domestic violence, child abuse, and homicide.

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