Felonies in Wisconsin are crimes punishable by incarceration in state prison. Wisconsin’s lawmakers classify felonies as Class A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, or I. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50 (2019).)
Misdemeanors (less serious crimes) are punishable by county or local jail terms of less than one year. For more information on misdemeanors in Wisconsin, see Wisconsin Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Class A felonies are the most serious types of crimes in Wisconsin, punishable by life imprisonment. Murder is an example of a Class A felony. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50 (2019).)
A Class B felony is punishable by up to 60 years’ imprisonment. In Wisconsin, for example, first degree sexual assault of a child is a Class B felony. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50 (2019).)
A conviction for a Class C or D felony can result in:
Carjacking is an example of a Class C felony under Wisconsin’s laws. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50 (2019).)
In Wisconsin, Class E felonies are crimes punishable by a fine of up to $50,000, up to 15 years’ imprisonment, or both. For example, aggravated battery (causing great bodily harm to another) is a Class E felony. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50 (2019).)
Class F and G felonies are punishable by:
For instance, burglary is typically a Class F felony in Wisconsin. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50 (2019).)
Class H and I felonies are punishable by fines of up to $10,000, prison terms of up to six years (for Class H) or three years and six months (for Class I), or both imprisonment and a fine. These are the least serious felony crimes in Wisconsin. Theft of property worth between $5,000 and $10,000 is a Class H felony. (Wis. Stat. § 939.50 (2019).)
Generally, most crimes have a time limit (called the statute of limitations) before which the state must begin criminal prosecution. The statute of limitation is longer for more serious crimes. In Wisconsin, the most serious crimes, such as homicides and sexual abuse of a child, have no statute of limitations. Most other felonies have a limitation period of six years. (Wis. Stat. § 939.74 (2019).)
Felony convictions have serious and lasting consequences, including prison, fines, and a criminal record. A felony criminal record can make if difficult (and sometimes impossible) to obtain a job, qualify for a professional license, or earn a graduate degree. If you are charged with a crime, the best way to avoid a conviction is to work with a good criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney can tell you what to expect in court and how best to protect your rights.