What Are the Stages of the Criminal Defense Process in Wisconsin?

Getting charged with a crime in Wisconsin can be overwhelming, and may leave you unsure of your next steps. Knowing the next steps in the criminal defense process can help you prepare for each stage and feel confident about the future. 

The Madison criminal defense attorneys at Stroud, Willink & Howard have helped thousands of people facing criminal charges in Wisconsin, having their charges reduced or dismissed. This blog explains the stages of the criminal defense process in Wisconsin, offering valuable information you can use to prepare your defense. Keep reading to learn more, or contact our office for a confidential consultation.

Stages of the Wisconsin Criminal Defense Process

While the details of criminal cases vary, the criminal defense process is similar in almost every case. Here are the stages you can expect after an arrest:

  • Arraignment/Initial Hearing: After an arrest, a defendant will appear before a judge for their arraignment, where the judge informs the defendant of the charges against them and their rights. The defendant will enter a plea. If necessary, the judge may assign the defendant a public defender and address bail at this stage. The defendant may be held on bail or released on their own recognizance (promising to return to court for their next hearing).
  • Preliminary Hearings and Pre-Trial Motions: After the arraignment, each side will prepare its case, and the defense attorney may negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution, where a defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge or in exchange for a reduced sentence. A defendant might also bring a motion to suppress evidence to prevent it from being presented at a potential trial.
  • Discovery: Before a case reaches trial, the lawyers for both sides will discuss the case and exchange evidence. Lawyers may also file motions during the discovery phase. They can continue to negotiate for a plea deal at any point before a trial begins.
  • Trial: If the case goes to trial, both sides will present their evidence and arguments to a jury or judge, who then renders a verdict. 
  • Sentencing: If the judge or jury finds the defendant guilty, the judge will determine the appropriate punishment. The punishment for a crime depends on its severity and other factors.
  • Post-Trial Motions and Appeals: After sentencing, the defense can challenge the verdict or sentencing through motions or appeal to a higher court.

How Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help You

If you face criminal charges in Wisconsin, the skilled and experienced team at Stroud, Willink & Howard can help you through this challenging situation. We will investigate your case and gather crucial evidence to construct a solid defense on your behalf. We can advise you on your legal options and guide you toward the best outcome in your case.

After being charged with a crime, don’t wait to get the legal help you need. Call us today or complete our contact form for a free consultation with a Madison, WI, criminal defense lawyer.