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Attorney John Schiro

John S. Schiro

Criminal Defense Division FAQ Menu
  • Wisconsin Super Lawyer
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  • "Defending people charged with a crime is John's passion. He is a tireless and aggressive force in defending your liberties and rights."

John S. Schiro, Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney

Click on the questions below to expand the answer

Do I need a lawyer to represent me even if I believe I am innocent?

Yes. The prisons are filled with people who are innocent. The advent of DNA has shown that the criminal justice system frequently makes mistakes. Our experience tells us that the police frequently arrest and the prosecution charges the wrong people. Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to ask another question: Have you ever seen a politician or police officer who is charged with a crime not hire a lawyer? All defendants need an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect their rights.

If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need an attorney?

The question is not whether a person is guilty, but rather, the question is whether the State can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime that they allege. If they cannot do so, you are not guilty and should not be found guilty. Even if a dismissal or acquittal is unlikely, it is important that you have an experienced attorney who can explore all possible defenses and argue any litigation to the court at the time of sentencing. A person should not plead their own case. This is best left to a skilled lawyer.

What are the consequences of a criminal conviction?

Depending upon whether the case is a felony or misdemeanor, you may be sentenced to prison, jail, be placed on probation, or otherwise have your liberty restricted. A conviction could cause you to lose a professional license and could prohibit you from working in a number of fields. Employment opportunities become limited with criminal convictions. Unfortunately, the advent of CCAP now makes it possible for any perspective employer to see if you have been convicted of a crime in a few moments. If your name appears on CCAP, it is important that it indicate that your charges were dismissed.

What is the difference between criminal and civil courts?

Criminal courts deal exclusively with persons who are alleged by the government to have violated a criminal law. The consequences of a conviction in criminal court can include the following: prison, jail time, fines, probation, etc. Civil courts deal exclusively with issues involving money and property.

What is an indictment?

An indictment is a charge brought by the federal government after a grand jury finds that there is probable cause to believe that a person has violated a federal criminal law. It is merely an allegation and raises no inference of guilt.

Can I be prosecuted in both State and Federal court?

Yes. The State and Federal governments are seperate "soverqigns" for purposes of criminal law; therefore, even if one is found not guilty in State court, one can subsequently be prosecuted in Federal court. In the Rodney King case, for example, the officers were acquitted in State court but later successfully prosecuted in Federal court for violations of a federal criminal civil rights statute.

What is the definition of self-defense?

All persons are entitled to exercise force to prevent an unlawful interference with themselves or a third person. The amount of force must not exceed that which is necessary to terminate the force. In determining whether the person reasonably exercised self-defense, the jury is instructed that they must look at the circumstances from the perspective of the defendant at the time he or she was confronted with the circumstances which caused him or her to defend him or herself. It is the government\'s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person did not act properly in the exercise of self-defense.

How do I appeal a criminal case?

Appealing a conviction in criminal court is governed by many rules, many of which are time-sensitive. It is essential that one have a lawyer to assist in this complicated process. As a general proposition, the appellate court looks to determine whether the trial court made errors. It is not a second opportunity to prove innocence. An experienced lawyer will need to review all of the evidence of the case as well as transcripts of all of the court proceedings to determine if errors were committed and whether those errors are sufficient gravity to cause the appellate to reverse or throw out the conviction.

How do I expunge my record?

Wisconsin Statute Sec. 973.015 has been recently amended to allow expungement for persons convicted of all misdemeanors and certain felonies, if the defendant was under twenty-five years of age at the time of the offense. Whether expungement will be awarded is normally discussed at the time of the sentencing. However, expungement is possible even when it was not discussed at the sentencing hearing. You should discuss your options with an experienced criminal defense attorney, if you think that you might be eligible.