Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal Defense in Wisconsin, Jefferson, & Throughout Wisconsin
When you are facing criminal charges, the team you choose to represent you can change the course of your life. At Lawton & Cates, we have the experience and resources to defend your rights and protect your future.
If you or someone you love has been arrested or charged with a crime, it is important that you contact an attorney right away. In most cases, the prosecution will immediately begin gathering evidence and putting together its case against you; you need someone on your side who will work just as hard on your behalf.
At Lawton & Cates, we defend individuals accused of all types of criminal offenses, including drunk driving (operating while intoxicated, or OWI), assault and battery, domestic abuse, drug possession, sex crimes, violent offenses, felonies, and misdemeanors. From our offices located in Jefferson and Madison, our criminal defense attorneys aggressively advocate on behalf of the accused throughout the state of Wisconsin, providing personalized service and custom legal strategies tailored to each individual’s unique situation.
Arrested in Wisconsin? Do not delay in calling Lawton & Cates at (608) 420-4033 to learn how our experienced legal team can fight for you.
What to Do If You Are Accused of a Crime
Whether you are being treated as a suspect in a criminal case, have been detained or arrested by the police, or have already been charged with a crime, there are certain things you should do to protect yourself and your rights.
If you are accused of a criminal offense, try to do all of the following:
- Remain silent. You do not have to—nor should you—answer any questions from police officers or provide any statements without an attorney present. Note that you do need to identify yourself to law enforcement officers, but you do not need to supply any additional information about what you are doing, where you are going, where you have been, where you live, whether you are a U.S. citizen, etc.
- If law enforcement tries to search your home, vehicle, or other personal property, ask to see a search warrant. The search warrant must be signed by a judge and will provide detailed information on what the officers are allowed to search. If law enforcement does not have a valid search warrant, state simply and clearly that you do not consent to a search.
- Hold on to anything that could be considered evidence. This includes things like time-stamped receipts, witness statements, videos or pictures, computer files, and more. Not only can this help establish an alibi in your case but discarding evidence—even accidentally—could be considered a second offense.
- Avoid confrontation and comply with the arresting officer’s instructions without sacrificing your rights. Do not attempt to explain yourself, defend yourself, or make any sudden or unexpected movements while being detained. Resisting arrest is a serious crime that not only puts you at risk of harsh penalties but could also endanger your life.
- Last but not least, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Even if you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to be appointed one by the court. It is always best to work with someone who understands the law and has experience navigating the criminal justice system. An attorney will be able to help you understand your legal rights and build a powerful, evidence-based defense on your behalf.
At Lawton & Cates, our Wisconsin criminal defense attorneys have more than 63 years of experience handling all types of serious criminal cases. Our team is prepared to take immediate steps to protect your rights, your freedom, and your future.
Criminal Cases We Handle
We believe that everyone deserves the right to fair treatment under the law. Our criminal defense practice is founded on the principle of all people being innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Our goal as attorneys is to ensure that this standard is upheld.
Our attorneys at both our Madison and Jefferson locations defend clients against an array of criminal accusations, including but not limited to:
- Assault and/or battery
- Domestic abuse
- Eluding an officer
- Operating a vehicle on a revoked license
- Operating while intoxicated (OWI)
- Reckless driving
- Reckless endangerment
- Sex crimes, including sexual assault
- Theft crimes
- Traffic violations
- White collar crimes, such as embezzlement and fraud
- Hit-and-run/leaving the scene of an accident
- Drug crimes, including drug possession and trafficking
No matter how serious the allegations against you may be, our team at Lawton & Cates is ready to aggressively defend you and your rights.
Q:Do I have to answer a police officer’s questions in Wisconsin?
A:If you are pulled over or arrested by a police officer in Wisconsin, you have the right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to answer any questions until you have an attorney present. In fact, we recommend that you refrain from saying anything other than providing identifying information (i.e., your name) to the arresting police officer as required by law. Even if the officer does not read you your rights, anything you say can be used against you.
Q:Will I lose my gun rights if I am convicted of a crime?
A:In Wisconsin, most felony convictions prevent you from owning or possessing a firearm. Additionally, some misdemeanor convictions, including domestic abuse and certain drug crimes, may affect your right to own or possess a gun.
Q:Can a police officer look through my car if I’m pulled over?
A:An arresting officer (or any other law enforcement official) may only search your vehicle if they have a valid search warrant signed by a judge. If you are pulled over and the officer asks to look through your car, you can request to see a search warrant and, if the officer does not have one, you may decline to allow the officer to look through your personal property or belongings.
Q:Is marijuana legal in Wisconsin?
A:Despite a 2016 law that permits the possession of certain amounts of medicinal cannabidiol products, all recreational marijuana use remains illegal in Wisconsin. Possessing or using recreational marijuana is a criminal offense subject to related penalties.
Q:When is someone tried as an adult in Wisconsin?
A:In general, anyone under the age of 17 who is accused of or charged with a criminal offense is tried as a juvenile in Wisconsin. Those age 17 and over will be tried as adults. However, some juveniles as young as 14 can be tried as adults for certain felonies, including sexual assault, homicide, and murder.
Q:Will I have to go to jail if I’m convicted?
A:The penalties you face depend on the type of offense with which you have been charged. That being said, there are often alternatives to jail or prison time. At Lawton & Cates, we work with our clients to develop personalized strategies tailored to their unique situations. This might mean seeking reduced charges or penalties, fighting to have your case dismissed or charges dropped, or seeking a not-guilty verdict.
Q:Do I really need a criminal defense attorney?
A:Even if your charges seem minor, it is always best to hire a criminal defense attorney. Often, the prosecution will seek the harshest possible penalties, which could include jail or prison time, thousands of dollars in fines, and more. Although it can be tempting to try to defend yourself against your charges, people who turn to experienced criminal defense lawyers nearly always obtain better outcomes than those who attempt to handle their cases on their own.