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"Sydne was very informative and made me feel at ease from the moment we first met. I would definitely recommend her to anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation as I." Former OWI client

"Sydne was always available to answer every question I had throughout the entire process, but most importantly she worked not just for me, but with me. I feel like this was the difference between just being a client, and being her client. " R.E.

Attorney Sydne FrenchI try to take a personal interest in every person who calls me for help. I do my best to make sure they do not feel like they are just a case number or just another "defendant." I make the time to really listen to their side of things, their perspectives, and their concerns. I do my best to stay in touch, and I welcome my clients to do the same. They know they can call me 24/7 and that I am there for them 100%.


"Sydne's commitment to her clients,
to the ideal of justice, and to the goal
of zealous representation is unparalleled.
" Keith Findley, President, International Innocence Network; Co-Director, Wisconsin Innocence Project

 
 


Winner of the Baldwin Award for Excellence in Criminal Law
   
   
 
Frequently Asked Questions

 

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We are passionate about what we do and it shows.  We have earned  a solid reputation for negotiating significantly reduced charges, penalties, and dismissals while aggressively defending our clients against the power and resources of the State.

Visit our News Room and take a look at some of the results we have achieved for our clients.  You'll see why we are one of the most well respected criminal and drunk driving defense firms in Wisconsin.

 

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FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

The Law Offices of Sydne French
Aggressive Defense Against the Power & Resources of the State

  • Courtroom Procedure
  • Criminal Charges
  • OWI DUI DWI Drunk Driving
  • PostConviction Issues | Appeals
  • Miscellaneous

Courtroom Procedure

General procedures for criminal and drunk driving cases in courts

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Under Wisconsin Statute Section 971.06, there are two types of pleas that can result in a criminal conviction:

  1. Guilty plea: the defendant admits that he or she committed the acts alleged by the prosecution.  Guilty pleas are the most common type of plea in Wisconsin.
  2. No Contest plea: the defendant does not admit to the facts alleged by the prosecutor.  However, he or she also does not dispute that a jury could find him or her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt - if the case went to trial.

Put another way, when you enter a plea of guilty, you are admitting that you did the crime.  When you enter a plea of no contest, you are essentially admitting that a jury could find you guilty based on the evidence the State has against you, but you are not going that one extra step and admitting that you actually did it.

The significance of this distinction is that anyone who files a civil lawsuit against you for the same conduct as that in the criminal case, cannot use the conviction in your criminal case as evidence of guilt in the lawsuit.

If the crime to which you are pleading involves a victim with injuries or damaged/stolen property, it is better to enter a no contest plea to prevent your conviction from being used as ammunition against you if you get sued.

 

Q: What does it mean when the judge sentences someone "with good time"?

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Good time is credit earned for good behavior while serving one's sentence.  By state statute, "eligibility" for good time is supposed to be automatic; however, some county jails incorrectly refuse to consider a person eligible to earn good time unless the court orders it on the record.  Good time is typically earned at a rate of one day of credit for every 4 or 5 days of good behavior in jail.  This means that the average jail sentence can be reduced by approximately 25%.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

Criminal Charges

 

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A: There is no short answer to your question. Whether a charge can be dropped or amended from a felony to a lesser charge depends upon a great many factors and cannot be determined without a detailed review of the facts of the case.

In general, however, the weaker the evidence the State has, the better your chances (obviously). Also, if the police failed to conduct their investigation properly, or evidence (physical or statements) was obtained in violation of constitutional rights, it may be possible to suppress that evidence. Suppression of evidence means the State cannot use it against you at a trial. If enough evidence is suppressed, the State may concede they cannot prove their case and dismiss the charges.

Finding fingerprints of a person who has no business in a dwelling can be pretty damning. In situations like this, establishing that police unlawfully obtained this evidence at a suppression hearing is a key defense strategy.

With regard to your point that no property was stolen, the Burglary statute in Wisconsin does not require actual theft of property. It only requires that a person "intentionally enters" the premises "without the consent of the person in lawful possession and with intent to steal or commit a felony ...." Keyword here is "intent."

The State may also issue charges for a burglary if they believe they can prove a person entered the premises with the intent to commit a "felony," such as "battery upon a person lawfully therein." Wisconsin Statutes Section 943.10(2)(d).

Reviewing a serious criminal charge (such as burglary) for potential defenses is a complex process that no individual, or attorney for that matter, should take lightly. You should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any conclusions about your case and never rely solely on information found on the Internet.

 

   

 


OWI DUI DWI Drunk Driving

Please refer to our Drunk Driving Defense page for frequenlty asked OWI DUI DWI questions.

   

 

Post Conviction Issues | Appeals

 

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A: The Federal Firearm Rescriction prohibits use of firearms by persons convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.  The key word here is "misdemeanor."  A municipal citation or forfeiture/ticket is not a criminal matter, it is a civil in nature.  Therefore, the Federal prohibition does not apply.

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A:  Unfortunately, the court will likely find that your claim is procedurally barred.
Two very important legal principle work against you here – finality and waiver.  Generally speaking, “finality” means that if you raised an issue in a previous motion and lost, you cannot raise it again.  “Waiver” means that if failed to raise a particular issue in a previous motion, you cannot raise it again.

Although you did not mention which issues you addressed in your motions, the chances are you will be procedurally barred from raising further issues relating to sentencing because: (1) you raised the same issue in your initial motion but lost on appeal, or (2) you could have but did not raise the issue in your initial motion.  It is incredibly difficult to raise a new issue in a later motion.  To do this, you must show the court a “sufficient reason” for raising it now.  See State v. Escalona-Naranjo, 185 Wis.2d 168, 517 N.W.2d 157 (1994); State v. Lo, 2003 WI 707, 264 Wis.2d 1, 665 N.W.2d 756.  This is not an easy task.  There are few circumstances in which a court has found “sufficient reasons.”  Those include:

  • The appellate attorney did not claim ineffective assistance of trial counsel on direct appeal, because the appellate attorney was also the attorney at trial.  See State v. Hensley, 221 Wis.2d 473, 585 N.W.2d 683 (Ct. App. 1998).
  • The appellate attorney was ineffective in failing to bring a postconviction motion on direct appeal.  See State ex rel. Rothering v. McCaughtry, 205 Wis.2d 675, 680, 556 N.W.2d 136, 139 (Ct. App. 1996).
  • The substantive law has changed, and it could not have been foreseen at the time of your direct appeal.  See State v. Howard, 211 I
    Wis. 2d, 269 564 N.W.2d 753 (1997).

The bottom line is that the doctrine of finality and the waiver rule combined generally mean that you get only one chance to make your arguments.  That is why it is important to raise all important issues in your initial motion.

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A:  No.  When a court record is expunged, it is not destroyed or erased.  Rather, the court record is removed from public access and sealed.   It is important to understand that an WI expungement laws apply solely to court records.  Records of arrest, or other incidents of police contact are not affected. 

 

   

 

 


 

 


 

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