It is Only a Misdemeanor!

Misdemeanor convictions can have serious, life-long consequences!

Wisconsin has three classifications for law violations.

"Collateral Consequences"

Drug Offenses

  1. Any conviction for a drug offense can double the penalty for a subsequent (later) conviction. For instance, a conviction for possession of paraphernalia can convert a subsequent charge for simple possession of marijuana into a Felony!
  2. Many convictions for possession of drugs will exclude a person from student financial aid for a period of time.

Domestic Abuse

For a crime to be considered one of "domestic abuse" in Wisconsin:

  1. No one has to be injured
  2. The people involved may be adult siblings
  3. The people involved may be adult child and parent
  4. The crime must involve at least two people
  5. Those two people must have lived in the same household, or
  6. Those two people must have had a dating relationship, or
  7. Those two people must have a child together

This interacts with various other laws such that the misdemeanor conviction can:

  1. Lead to deportation and/or exclusion from admission to the country for non-citizens whether or not legally in the country.
  2. Lead to a lifetime ban on firearms possession. See Misdemeanor Crimes of Domestic Violence and Wisconsin's Domestic Abuse Enhancer - Gun Rights


Most people know that a felony conviction can legally keep people from holding many jobs or obtaining many occupational licenses.

Various employment opportunities may be denied, legally, or illegally, by employers who check CCAP in screening, or simply as a result of an answer to the question on an employment application "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?"

Realistically, many employers, whether it is legal for them to do so or not, do not call people in for an interview if the person has a criminal conviction.


Realistically, many landlords, whether it is legal for them to do so or not, do not call people in for an interview if the person has a criminal conviction.


I mentioned earlier that a drug possession conviction may keep a person from obtaining financial aid. Other convictions, though, may keep a person from being accepted to certain schools and programs, especially in the medical field.

Sex Offender Registry

Wisconsin has a few misdemeanor sex offenses including fourth-degree sexual assault, prostitution, and lewd and lascivious behavior. None of those currently require sex offender registration, in Wisconsin. However, a conviction for them may require such registration in other states. In addition, there is pressure on the legislature to add some of these to the crimes requiring registration. If the law is later changed, the change is likely to apply retroactively to earlier convictions.



Although compared to a Felony conviction, a misdemeanor conviction is "minor," in the life of a person, especially one without a prior criminal conviction, a conviction for a misdemeanor can be devastating. Anyone facing such a charge needs competent, experienced representation.

Charles Kyle Kenyon - When Experience MattersScales of Justice - copyright 1995 - Madison Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer (attorney) Charles Kenyon

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Attorney at Law Scales of Justice - copyright 1995 - Madison Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer (attorney) Charles Kenyon
5555 Odana Road, Suite 211
Madison, WI  53719-1280

Telephone (608) 308-9645

Since 1979

Former (Elected) District Attorney
Former Assistant State Public Defender
Extensive jury trial experience in cases ranging from traffic to sexual assault / homicide
Thousands of criminal cases since 1979

Appeals in Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Supreme Court

J.D. University of Wisconsin Law School 1978 - winner of Abe Sigman prize
B.A. University of Wisconsin - Madison - Psychology - 1975
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Member: National College for DUI Defense
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