If you’re arrested in Wisconsin, call Everson & Richards, LLP Law Offices.  We are Wisconsin criminal defense attorneys serving the entire state of Wisconsin.

All arrests are not the same. In some arrests you’re charged with a crime, while in others you’re not.

You’re charged with a crime only if the possible penalty includes time in jail or prison. There’s one exception, though; you may face jail time for failing to pay a fine or forfeiture, but this failure isn’t considered a crime.

In most cases, traffic offenses and city, town or county ordinance violations are not criminal offenses.

Certain offenses can be charged as either ordinance or criminal offenses – for example, retail theft (shoplifting) or disorderly conduct.

Some offenses are noncriminal for first time offenders but criminal for second time violators. The most common example of this is operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants.

A monetary penalty for a crime is called a fine. For a non-criminal offense it’s called a forfeiture.

There are some other important differences between criminal and non-criminal cases.

First, a criminal conviction may have a negative effect on your employment opportunities, school applications, professional licensing, and so forth.

Second, in criminal case, the prosecution must prove you guilty beyond reasonable doubt – a stricter requirement than for a non-criminal case.

Finally, you have more legal rights in a criminal case, such as the right to remain silent and the right to the assistance of an attorney.

In a non-criminal case the prosecution can call you to the stand and force you to testify against yourself.