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Bucher Law Group, LLC
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Milwaukee County criminal defense attorney

If you have been involved in the criminal justice system or even watched police television shows like Law & Order, you may have heard the phrase “incompetent to stand trial.” What exactly does it mean if a criminal defendant is “incompetent” and how does this differ from a person being found not guilty by reason of insanity? Can mental illness alone prevent someone from being charged and convicted of a criminal offense in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin Man Charged with Homicide Found Not Competent to Stand Trial

In July of last year, a retired police officer and former marine was riding his motorcycle when he was struck and killed by a pickup truck. The driver of the pickup truck, a 27-year-old Wisconsin man of Mexican descent, allegedly told responding officers that he had intentionally caused the fatal accident and targeted the motorcyclist because he was Caucasian. Because the incident was intentional and based on race, the driver of the pickup truck was charged with first-degree homicide with a hate crime enhancer.

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Racine County criminal defense attorney aggravated charges

The time spent in the criminal justice system begins when a person is arrested. After an arrest, an individual will be charged with a crime if the prosecution finds that there is enough evidence to do so. Next, the alleged offender and his or her attorney may be able to reach a plea bargain with the prosecution, or the case may proceed to trial. Once everything is said and done, a judge will deliver a sentence for the crime if the defendant is convicted or pleads guilty. In Wisconsin, each crime has a different classification, which typically depends on the seriousness and nature of the offense. In some cases, the prosecution can push to have a sentence increased if there are aggravating factors present. That is why it is important to understand what circumstances can lead to harsher sentencing.

Examples of Aggravating Factors

Typically, there are a variety of factors that can increase the severity of the sentence for a crime. These are usually referred to as aggravating factors, and they may include anything from the location where the crime allegedly took place to the damage allegedly caused by the crime. In Wisconsin, there are various actions or behaviors that could affect a person’s sentence. These may include:

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Ozaukee County criminal defense attorney

Sometimes, the only thing people know about the criminal justice system is what they have seen in movies and on television. In many of those fictional cases, the offender ends up going to trial, and the defendant’s attorney fights to get him or her free. What most people do not know is that the majority of real-life criminal cases actually do not go to trial. Most of the time, the defense and the prosecution are able to work out some sort of deal for the defendant to plead guilty, who then receives a lesser punishment in exchange for the guilty plea. Similar to a settlement in a civil case, this is called a plea bargain, and it is regularly used in the criminal justice system. 

What Is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is an agreement that is made between the defendant’s lawyer and the prosecutor to settle a criminal case, rather than taking that case to trial. Most of the time, the plea agreement involves the defendant pleading guilty in order to receive a less severe sentence. There are three main types of plea bargains:

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