Wisconsin Homicide Laws
Wisconsin law recognizes different levels of homicide, varying by degree and intent. Legally, the word “homicide” refers to any death that was not due to natural causes. It is not necessarily a crime. A homicide committed in the course of necessary self defense, for example, is not punishable by law.
The most severely punished form of homicide is felony murder. Wisconsin law defines this as a homicide committed during the course of a dangerous felony. A felony is considered dangerous if it involves any physical harm, or the risk of such, to any person. This includes any felony committed with a weapon, arson, battery, kidnap, sexual assault and burglary. Felony murder is considered a Class A felony, which means it can be punished with a life sentence or even, due to recent changes in state law, the death penalty.
Unlike many other states, Wisconsin does not have a legal category for manslaughter. Instead, our state’s law uses the term second degree intentional homicide. This is a type of homicide committed by a person who deliberately wishes to take another person’s life, or cause them serious harm. The maximum sentence for a class B felony is sixty years in prison.
Vehicular manslaughter is homicide committed by a person operating a vehicle negligently or while intoxicated. If a pregnant woman is hit by a car and suffers a miscarriage, the driver of that car can be charged with causing the death of an unborn child. The penalty for vehicular manslaughter depends on a variety of factors, such as prior convictions or drug use while driving.