University of Wisconsin–Madison

CLEW Publications

Wisconsin Crimes - Elements, Definitions, and Penalties

by David E. Schultz, Professor of Law Emeritus

2013 edition, is currently out of stock. A new edition will be forthcoming. Production will be on hold until the end of the 2018 legislative session (May 2018).

Wisconsin Crimes - Elements, Definitions, and Penalties was completely updated in 2013.  View sample pages.

This book provides a concise reference specifying the elements of crimes defined in the Wisconsin Statutes and indicating the applicable penalty. Its primary intended use is by judges in accepting pleas of guilty. But additional uses may include:

  • by judges and lawyers in evaluating the sufficiency of criminal complaints;
  • by law enforcement officers in making decisions about arrests and writing complete reports;
  • by prosecutors in evaluating charging decisions and preparing for entry of a guilty plea;
  • by defense counsel in advising clients regarding the plea decision and preparing for the entry of a guilty plea;
  • by judges in accepting guilty pleas.

Elements. The book contains summaries of the elements of the vast majority of crimes in the Criminal Code of Wisconsin, plus selected criminal traffic offenses and some non-Criminal Code offenses. Almost all crimes for which there are published jury instructions in Wisconsin Jury Instructions-Criminal are included, along with a few for which there are no standard instructions.

Each entry begins with a reference to the applicable published jury instruction and contains a list of the elements of the crime as set forth in that instruction. The referenced instruction should be reviewed for additional information where necessary. The penalty for each crime is specified by reference to its penalty class. A chart showing the maximum sentences for each penalty class is provided in the first section of the book. Notes accompany some entries, calling attention to special considerations applicable to that offense. Each entry also includes, where applicable, reference to significant "collateral consequences" - identifying offenses that qualify as predicates for application of "persistent repeater" provisions ["Three Strikes" and "2 Strikes"], mandatory sex offender registration, Chapter 980 commitment, etc.

Definitions. General definitions of terms used in the Criminal Code are also provided.  When an element of a crime or a note uses that term, it appears in bold, indicating that a definition is provided.  Also included with the definitions are summaries of general matters like "party to crime," "attempt," "defenses," etc.

Crimes. The crimes are grouped according the chapter of the Wisconsin statutes in which they appear, organized by statute number.  The table of contents for each chapter is included, as it appears in the published statutes. 

About the Author.  David Schultz is Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Professor Schultz worked as a staff attorney in the Corrections Legal Services Program for two years before he became affiliated with the UW Extension Law Program. Through the Continuing Legal Education and Outreach Program, Professor Schultz has taught a variety of programs on criminal law for lawyers, judges, and police officers. In the Law School, Professor Schultz teaches the first year courses in Substantive Criminal Law and supervises the judicial intern program. Professor Schultz has been the Reporter for the Wisconsin Jury Instructions Criminal since 1976. He has published a book review on Escape of the Guilty in the Marquette Law Review (1987) and, earlier, co-authored with UW Law Professors Remington and Dickey an article titled "Law, Trial Judges, and the Psychiatric Witness," which appeared in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry (1980). He also co authored, with Prof. Walter Dickey and James Fullin, "The Importance of Clarity in the Law of Homicide: The Wisconsin Revision" (1989). Professor Schultz has been a member of the Wisconsin Judicial Council since 1989; he chaired the organization from 1991 through 1996.


PART ONE: Criminal Penalties, Definitions and General Principles

PART TWO: Criminal Code Offenses

  • Chapter 940      Crimes Against Life And Bodily Security
  • Chapter 941      Crimes Against Public Health And Safety
  • Chapter 942      Crimes Against Reputation, Privacy And Civil Liberties 
  • Chapter 943      Crimes Against Property
  • Chapter 944      Crimes Against Sexual Morality
  • Chapter 945      Gambling
  • Chapter 946      Crimes Against Government And Its Administration
  • Chapter 947      Crimes Against Public Peace, Order And Other Interests
  • Chapter 948      Crimes Against Children
  • Chapter 951      Crimes Against Animals

PART THREE: Crimes Outside The Criminal Code

  • Chapter 175      Miscellaneous Police Provisions
  • Motor Vehicle Code Offenses:
    • Chapter 342      Vehicle Title and Anti-Theft Law
    • Chapter 343      Operators' Licenses
    • Chapter 346      Rules Of The Road
    • Chapter 347      Equipment of Vehicles
  • Drug and Controlled Substance Offenses:
    • Chapter 139      Beverages, Controlled Substances and Tobacco Taxes
    • Chapter 450      Pharmacy Examining Board Definitions and General Rules - Chapter 961
    • Chapter 961      Uniform Controlled Substances Act

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