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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

What is a "Misd. U" on CCAP in Wisconsin?

The question often comes up, “What is a misdemeanor U in Wisconsin?” This question generally comes from people who have looked up a record on Wisconsin’s Circuit Court Access (WCCA) Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP) and have seen “Misd. U” listed under the “Severity” of a charge.

The “U” simply stands for “unclassified.” Unlike CCAP references to “Misd. A,” Misd. B” or “Misd. C” which refer to specific classifications of misdemeanors  under Wis. Stat. sec. 939.51 (the classifications differ depending upon the maximum penalty), a “Misd. U” might have a maximum penalty from anywhere to a fine and a few days in jail or all the way up  to one year in jail (which is the maximum sentence that may be imposed for an offense and still be classified as a misdemeanor).

If you want to determine what is the maximum sentence for a charge identified as a “Misd. U,” the only way to be sure is to look at the specific statute the person is charged with violating.

As an example, I’ll use a very common “Misd. U” offense: Possession of THC, which is simply possession of marijuana. (Many drug offenses, whether felonies or misdemeanors, are identified with a "U" because special penalties apply.) CCAP identifies the relevant statute as 961.41(3g)(e). So the first step is to turn to that provision of the statutes. (Sometimes the penalty is not listed in the specific section CCAP lists but the penalty is probably listed nearby so just read some of the surrounding sections.) This statutory provision states that for a first offense, the maximum punishment is a $1,000 fine and up to six months in prison (a second or subsequent offense is a felony and therefore would not have the "Misd. U" severity).  

Any time an offense calls for a specific penalty, rather than simply referring to the general classifications of crimes contained in Wisconsin Stat. sec. 939.50 and sec. 939.51 (or even classifications for non-criminal forfeitures, see sec. 939.52) the offense will be identified as a “U” on CCAP with it being a “Felony U” if the offense is punishable by more than a year in prison, a “Misd. U” if the crime is punishable by not more than a year in prison, and a “Forf. U” if the offense is a non-criminal offense for which a fine is the only possible punishment.

NOTE: Statutes, and especially maximum sentences for crimes, have changed significantly over time. Therefore, if you are looking at a person who was convicted of an offense years earlier, to be sure what the maximum penalty was for that crime it would be important to look to the laws in effect at that time, which can be found at the Wisconsin Law Archive. Not only have certain crimes been reclassified, so that for example, a crime that used to be a “Class B” felony might now be a “Class D” felony, but so too have the actual classifications. A “Class E Felony” today is not the same as a “Class E Felony” in prior years.

If an offense does not have a “U” but is instead identified with a specific class (A-I for felonies; A-C for misdemeanors; and A-E for forfeitures) the following maximum punishments apply. Again, these penalties are what is currently in force at the time of this writing; penalties change over time.


Class
Maximum Felony Sentence
Maximum Misdemeanor
Sentence
Maximum Forfeiture Fine
A
life imprisonment.
a fine not to exceed $10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 9 months, or both.
$10,000
B
60 years imprisonment
a fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both.
$1,000
C
a fine not to exceed $100,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 40 years, or both.
a fine not to exceed $500 or imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, or both.
$500
D
a fine not to exceed $100,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 25 years, or both.

$200
E
a fine not to exceed $50,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 15 years, or both.

$25
F
a fine not to exceed $25,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 12 years and 6 months, or both.


G
a fine not to exceed $25,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 10 years, or both.


H
a fine not to exceed $10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 6 years, or both.


I
a fine not to exceed $10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 3 years and 6 months, or both.



It is important to remember that these are maximum sentences; it is uncommon for a person  convicted of a crime to receive the maximum sentence. On the other hand, although these are maximums, through “penalty enhancement” provisions, such as the state’s “habitual criminality” provision, it is possible that a person could be sentenced to a term of imprisonment longer than the maximum sentence set forth here.

If readers have further similar questions, for example, a question on how to read CCAP entries, please feel free to leave a comment here or email at xbeyondx@gmail.com and I’ll see if I will be able to post answers to questions. CCAP is a remarkably powerful tool but it must be understood and used correctly; misunderstanding the information the site contains can lead to serious consequences.

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