In Which Wisconsin Court Will My Case Be Heard?
Charges Brought By The State of Wisconsin
Both felony and misdemeanor charges prosecuted by the state of Wisconsin are heard in Wisconsin circuit courts. All pretrial matters regarding those charges are usually handled by the same circuit court, the district attorney prosecuting the case, or the agencies serving the court or DA's office.
Drunk Driving Charges
Charges resulting from an alleged drunk driving incident are handled by both an administrative court or office and a circuit court. An administrative hearing is held regarding the alleged OWI offender's driver's license. A judicial hearing is held regarding the criminal (or noncriminal, if a first offense) charges against the person alleged to have been driving while under the influence.
Federal Criminal Charges
Federal crimes are usually tried in federal courts, and matters leading up to the trial (such as motions to suppress evidence) are also handled in the federal courts. In some instances, even if a person is federally indicted, the criminal trial occurs in a Wisconsin state circuit court.
For information about the federal courts where Attorney Chirafisi & Attorney Verhoff appear most often, please refer to Wisconsin Federal Courts. For information about the circuit courts, please refer to Wisconsin Circuit Courts.
Federal and State Charges
If a person is charged with a federal crime that is also a crime under Wisconsin state law, either or both governments can bring charges and prosecute. In some instances, the district attorney and your attorney will arrange to have the matter heard and tried by one of the governments. In those instances, the other governmental body refrains from prosecution. Whether the secondary charges can later be prosecuted is dependent on the negotiations between your attorney and the governmental agency, and the court's final ruling.
If a person is tried in either a federal or state court, found not guilty, and the matter is dismissed with prejudice, then the agency that withheld from prosecuting is in almost all situations barred from prosecuting the case. If the matter is dismissed without prejudice, then the agency that withheld from prosecuting can move forward with their case and begin prosecution.
As well, a person can be charged by both federal and state governments and prosecuted simultaneously. In those situations, other rules apply, including rules of evidence and the use of information by the state or federal prosecuting attorney in the trial being heard by the other government.
If you are facing both federal and state charges, such as is often the case in drug crimes, it is important for you to ask your attorney if he or she is accustomed to the rules of procedure in the federal courts. Those rules differ - sometimes to a very substantial degree - between the two courts. Attorney Corey Chirafisi has handled cases in both Wisconsin state courts and US federal courts.
Charges brought by a municipality (a city) can be heard in municipal court or a circuit court. Typically, municipal courts hear matters regarding city ordinance violations and traffic citations. In the Madison area, Jefferson Municipal Court, City of Madison Municipal Court, and the City of Middleton Municipal Court regularly hear matters regarding ordinance and traffic violations.
Chirafisi & Verhoff, S.C.