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Robert T. Ruth has been a criminal defense attorney since 1993 and has devoted a significant portion of his law practice to criminal appeals since then. Because he limits his appellate practice to criminal appeals, he is well-versed in every aspect of post conviction proceedings in Wisconsin, including post conviction motions, direct appeal to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, petition for review in the Wisconsin Supreme Court and collateral attacks on a Wisconsin conviction. His experience as appellate counsel, along with his broader experience in criminal defense, makes him an excellent choice for counsel in any Wisconsin criminal appeal.

Wisconsin criminal appeal attorney

Appellate practice is complicated and full of traps for the unwary. Many criminal defense attorneys only handle appeals infrequently or not at all. If you want to appeal a Wisconsin conviction, there is no substituted for an experienced appellate attorney who regularly handles criminal appeals.

Non-lawyers often refer to any challenge to a conviction or sentence as an appeal. When used in this general sense, the term appeal may refer to any number of different challenges to a conviction or sentence. Here is a brief overview of several common avenues for challenging a conviction or sentence in Wisconsin.

A direct appeal is an appeal that occurs soon after the imposition of the sentence, so there is no time to waste. In a Wisconsin appeal, the notice of intent to pursue postconviction relief must be filed within 20 days of the entry of the judgment.

The initial criminal appeal in Wisconsin may start with a postconviction motion or may proceed directly to the court of appeals. A postconviction motion in a Wisconsin criminal appeal is filed in the court where the conviction occurred. A postconviction motion may request an evidentiary hearing, so it offers an opportunity to develop the record on some appellate issues. Be advised, however, that the opportunity for a postconviction evidentiary hearing is not a chance to re-litigate every issue in the case.

If the circuit court denies the postconviction motion, the rules permit an appeal of the underlying conviction and sentence and the denial of the postconviction motion. Most criminal appeals to the Wisconsin court of appeals are decided on briefs, without oral argument. If the court of appeals reverses the circuit court in a criminal appeal, the losing party may file a petition for review in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. A petition for review is not an appeal to the Supreme Court. Rather, it is a request to the Supreme Court to consider the case. If the Supreme Court grants the petition for review, it orders new briefing and oral argument.

In Wisconsin, even if the time for filing a direct appeal has long expired or even if you lost the direct appeal, if you are still in "custody" as defined by the statute, Wisconsin Statute section 974.06, Stats., permits a challenge to the conviction and sentence under certain circumstances. For example, sec. 974.06, Stats., applies if the sentence violates the Constitution, if the court lacked jurisdiction to impose the sentence or if the sentence exceeds the maximum legal sentence. A sec. 974.06 action starts in the circuit court and may proceed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Most of the work in a criminal appeal occurs on paper. Because of this it does not generally cost more to hire an appeal attorney from out of town to handle your criminal appeal. To speak to an attorney experienced in Wisconsin criminal appeals, contact Madison criminal appeal lawyer Robert T. Ruth at 608-257-2540 for a free consultation.

WI Criminal Appeal Lawyer – WI Criminal Appeal Attorney - WI Postconviction Lawyer

The Wisconsin Court system is divided into county circuit courts, an intermediate court appellate court and the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Criminal cases in Wisconsin start in the circuit court of the county where the crime allegedly occurred. The circuit court for a county is often divided into branches. For example, Dane County Circuit Court presently has 17 branches and Milwaukee County Circuit Court has 47 branches. That means that in Dane County there are 17 different judges and in Milwaukee County there are 47 judges.

A defendant in a criminal case may challenge mistakes made by a circuit court judge in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. The court of appeals in Wisconsin is divided into four districts. The appellate districts breakdown as follows:
District I is headquartered in Milwaukee and contains only Milwaukee County. District II is headquartered in Waukesha and contains Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, and Winnebago counties.

District III is headquartered in Wausau and contains Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Brown, Buffalo, Burnett, Chippewa, Door, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Florence, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Shawano, St. Croix, Taylor, Trempealeau, Vilas, and Washburn counties.

District IV is headquartered in Madison and contains Adams, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lafayette, Marquette, Monroe, Portage, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Vernon, Waupaca, Waushara, and Wood counties.

The clerk’s office for all of the court of appeals districts is located in Madison, but the judges for each district are located at the headquarters for their district. The various districts, however, act as a single appellate court. In other words, an opinion of one district of the court of appeals is binding on all of the other districts. Mistakes made in a criminal case by the Wisconsin court of appeals are challenged in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which is located in Madison.

Call Wisconsin criminal appeal lawyer Robert T. Ruth at 608-257-2540 for excellent representation in Wisconsin criminal appeals.