steinhilber logo

Criminal Law


If you have been arrested, are under investigation or have the police calling you requesting an interview, you are facing the criminal justice system and should seek legal advice immediately. Criminal accusations are intimidating, stressful, frightening, confusing and can result in your loss of freedom through incarceration in the county jail or the Wisconsin state prison system.

Criminal charges are the most serious involvement with the legal system you will face in your life. You only receive one chance to tell your story and ignoring these accusations will not result in their going away. The decisions you make while facing criminal prosecution will affect the rest of your life. The mere fact you are charged with criminal charges could affect your employment, custody of your children or your personal liberty. The attorneys in our office are experienced in representing and assisting you through this most difficult time of your life. They will be at your side aggressively and vigorously defending you to ensure your rights are upheld by both the courts and the investigating officers.

Steinhilber Swanson LLP law firm has the experience, knowledge and understanding of the criminal process and its long-term consequences and effects on our clients. We review and study every aspect of the prosecutor’s case and develop a sound defense. Our lawyers have defended clients with serious felony charges, homicide as well as misdemeanor traffic cases. Again, you can have the confidence our attorneys will provide excellent, personalized representation which will deliver the most positive outcome possible.

What You Can Expect When You Have Been Arrested or Are Under Investigation.

A. Arrests must be based on probable cause that a crime has been committed. The police rely on what they believe to be good information received from all sources, including your statements. You should have someone contact our firm if you are arrested or incarcerated or if you receive a telephone call from the police requesting you come to their department to discuss the matter with them.

B. After you are arrested you will go through the booking process and can expect to be finger printed and have your mug shot taken. The police will search both your person and your vehicle and ask you questions about the incident that lead to the arrest and about you. DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS PUT TO YOU BY A POLICE OFFICER who is investigating you with regard to a crime. They are only talking with you if they are investigating a crime. The one misconception people have with regard to giving a statement to the police is it may be used against you. A police officer would not be taking a statement from you unless it was his intent to use it against you later in a possible criminal case.

C. The police will book you on the charges they deem appropriate and forward all police reports to the prosecuting attorney’s office. The prosecuting attorney’s office will decide what actual charges you may face at a later date. A victim or witness cannot “press” charges or drop charges; only a prosecutor has the authority to make those decisions. If a victim later recants their story or requests the district attorney to “drop” the charges, most district attorneys will not dismiss a case on that basis alone.

D. You can retain an attorney at any time during the process of the investigation or arrest and should do so at your earliest possible convenience. If you cannot retain private counsel the courts will appoint a public defender to represent you or an attorney may be appointed directly by the county courts if you are not eligible for a state public defender.

E. Bail will be initially set by the arresting officer and then can be reduced or increased by courts at the initial appearance or arraignment. Most defendants will be released on their own recognizance and will not have to post a cash bond. Otherwise, in the state of Wisconsin bail is cash only. Wisconsin does not have a bond system and will only accept cash or credit cards in the amount set by the court or the initial arresting officer.

F. The case will proceed from arrest – to arraignment – to discovery – to a preliminary hearing or initial appearance – to a plea hearing – to pretrial motions – to trial and sentencing – to a possible appeal.

G. Expungement. This is a process where a person’s conviction may be removed from their record. The ultimate goal of an expungement is to permanently clear your criminal record. Expungement at this time, however, is not totally complete in that your case cannot be removed from the state of Wisconsin’s CCAP website.