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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I was charged with three counts of obstruction on Thursday.

Customer Question

I was charged with three counts of obstruction on Thursday. what could be the penalties for these charges? should I get a public defender? and they also tool my phone how do I get it back?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Hello Jacustomer,

Here is the statute for obstructing/resisting arrest in Wisconsin:

946.41  Resisting or obstructing officer.
(1) Except as provided in subs. (2m) and (2r), whoever knowingly resists or obstructs an officer while such officer is doing any act in an official capacity and with lawful authority is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

(2) In this section:
946.41(2)(a) (a) "Obstructs" includes without limitation knowingly giving false information to the officer or knowingly placing physical evidence with intent to mislead the officer in the performance of his or her duty including the service of any summons or civil process.

(b) "Officer" means a peace officer or other public officer or public employee having the authority by virtue of the officer's or employee's office or employment to take another into custody.

(c) "Soft tissue injury" means an injury that requires medical attention to a tissue that connects, supports, or surrounds other structures and organs of the body and includes tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, fibrous tissues, fat, synovial membranes, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.

(2m) Whoever violates sub. (1) under all of the following circumstances is guilty of a Class H felony:

(a) The violator gives false information or places physical evidence with intent to mislead an officer.

(b) At a criminal trial, the trier of fact considers the false information or physical evidence.

(c) The trial results in the conviction of an innocent person.

(2r) Whoever violates sub. (1) and causes substantial bodily harm or a soft tissue injury to an officer is guilty of a Class H felony.

(2t) Whoever violates sub. (1) and causes great bodily harm to an officer is guilty of a Class G felony.

(3) Whoever by violating this section hinders, delays or prevents an officer from properly serving or executing any summons or civil process, is civilly liable to the person injured for any actual loss caused thereby and to the officer or the officer's superior for any damages adjudged against either of them by reason thereof.
____

The garden variety obstruction case is a class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum possibility of a year in jail. It becomes an H or a G felony when special circumstances apply that are listed in the statute.

In Wisconsin a class A misdemeanor has a maximum incarceratory possibility of 9 months and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

I can't tell from your question how serious this matter is. Sometimes, police charge this crime when someone is simply in the way of things -- for instance -- using your mobile phone to take pictures of an arrest or of an undercover operation. Other times, officers can be wounded, sometimes seriously.

In any case, as your liberty is at stake, you will need a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, you can plead not guilty to the charges when you are arraigned upon them and ask the court to appoint you a public defender. If you're a working man, have assets such as a home and/or a car, the court is likely going to require you to hire your own lawyer. But if it will cause a substantial hardship for you to afford representation, you should ask for a public defender.

You won't get your phone while the case is pending, and frankly, it's been my experience that even when there are no grounds at all for the police to hang onto it, they make it more trouble than it's worth to get it back. But you can have your lawyer ask the prosecutor to release the phone, and if he or she doesn't need it as evidence he may be willing to authorize its release to you. Then it will be up to the police to turn it back over to you or to make you bring them to court to explain to a judge why they are hanging onto it.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


k. thanks. basically I told three different stories to the dectives

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Hi Sami,

That looks like the charge could be a class H felony, and if so, the penalty could be as much as 6 years of prison. On the other hand, in my experience, unless the facts and circumstances you lied about are very serious, the charge would likely be reduced to a misdemeanor. Either way, if you have no felony record and if there was no violence involved in your case, you'll likely be offered probation on a plea option.

That doesn't mean you should take it. You may have a case you can fight. But that's for you and your lawyer to determine. I'm just telling you what is usually the course of this kind of a case.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


So nothing else I could get prohation if this is the first time I am in trouble

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Hi Sami,

Yes, you could get probation on a charge like this as it's a non-violent offense and it's your first contact with the law. You still should get a lawyer, because you may have a case you want to fight, or there may be some way you can keep this off of your record. But you shouldn't have to worry about jail, so long as you show up for your court date and follow any instructions given to you by the court.

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Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.