Operating While Intoxicated/Prohibited Alcohol Concentration/Operating Under the Influence of a Restricted Controlled Substance (collectively OWI):
Operating while intoxicated is clearly a serious problem that affects all citizens of Winnebago County. Operating while intoxicated can rob families and communities of valued members in an instant. In short, operating while intoxicated breaks our communities’ trust. Accordingly, it is the policy of this office that operating while intoxicated offenses are to be vigorously prosecuted.
It is the policy of this office that any operating under the influence/prohibited alcohol concentration case, whether it be a first, second, third offense, or more, shall not be amended. Additionally, it is the policy of this office that a prison recommendation accompanies all felony level OWI/PAC/RCS cases. However, if the individual prosecutor believes an amendment is in the interest of justice, he or she must obtain prior approval from either the District Attorney or the Deputy District Attorney.
In OWI/PAC/RCS misdemeanor or felony injury cases the same policy applies as indicated above in that such cases shall not be amended except upon approval of either the District Attorney or Deputy District Attorney.
In OWI/PAC homicide cases, the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the case should contact the District Attorney, Deputy District Attorney or both before making a recommendation for disposition on the matter.
Failure to Pay Child Support:
Many children in Winnebago County suffer despair and depravation due to negligent non-custodial parents’ failure to pay child support. Accordingly, it is the policy of this office that our top priorities in Failure to Pay Child Support cases are to get children the financial support they deserve and to keep payments coming in the future.
It is the policy of this office that recommendations in first offense Failure to Pay Child Support cases shall be contingent upon the amount of arrearages the defendant pays up front. As a general rule, recommendations are as follows:
- 100% paid up front = recommendation of Deferred Adjudication Agreement
- If less than 100% is paid up front, the sentencing recommendation is left to the individual prosecutor's discretion.
- 100% paid up front = amendment to misdemeanor Failure to Support and recommendation of Deferred Adjudication Agreement
- 50%-99% paid up front = recommendation of Deferred Adjudication Agreement
- 49% and less paid up front = likely recommendation for incarceration
Note – Pursuant to an agreement with the Winnebago County Child Support Agency, the amount of child support owed is the amount that is indicated by the Child Support Agency. Accordingly, the above policies and guidelines will still apply to situations where the parties stipulate to a lower amount of arrearages due and owing.
Issuance of a Worthless Check:
Due to budget constraints, our office has made attempts to find ways to make cases run more efficiently while still protecting the citizens of Winnebago County. Accordingly, for first-time misdemeanor worthless check offenders, the District Attorney’s Office has implemented a worthless check diversion program. This program collects restitution for the merchants while attempting to rehabilitate the offenders.
However, our office realizes that "bad check" offenses affect every citizen of Winnebago County in one form or another. They result in increased costs to merchants and those costs necessarily are passed on to consumers, which pushes the costs of goods and services higher for everyone. Accordingly, for those worthless check offenses that are handled within the office at the criminal level, it is the policy of this office that an Issuance of a Worthless Check charge should not be amended to an ordinance if any of the following are present:
- the amount of restitution is greater than $500.00
- more than five (5) checks were written and returned as insufficient funds or closed account
- the defendant has two (2) or more prior ordinances or one (1) or more prior misdemeanor convictions for Issuance of a Worthless Check, or
- the defendant has a prior conviction for a property crime.
Additionally, it is the policy of this office that an Issuance of a Worthless check case can be amended to an ordinance, after restitution is paid, if all of the following circumstances are present:
- no prior criminal convictions
- no prior ordinance convictions for Issuance of a Worthless Check
- only one check was written on an open account, and
- the amount of restitution is less than $200.00.
It is the policy of this office that forfeitures and fines in Issuance of a Worthless Check cases shall be in proportion to the amount owed in restitution. Generally, forfeiture and fine recommendations are as follows:
- $100.00 or less in restitution = recommendation of $50.00
- $100.00-$200.00 in restitution = recommendation of $100.00
- $200.00 or more in restitution = recommendation of $200.00
Domestic Violence and Sensitive Crimes:
It is the policy of this office that sensitive crimes and crimes of domestic violence are to be vigorously prosecuted. The most important considerations for the individual prosecutor in formulating an appropriate sentence should be the protection of the community, protection of the victim, and punishment of the offender. However, because of the sensitive nature of these crimes precise sentencing recommendations cannot be enumerated.
In all cases, the individual prosecutor should consider the following factors when making sentencing recommendations:
- the age disparity between the victim and the offender,
- the victim’s wishes,
- any coercion that may have been placed upon the victim
- the absence of or presence of a weapon,
- the position the defendant occupied in the victim’s life (control)
- prior record of the defendant, and
- the defendant’s status in the criminal justice system at the time of the offense.
It is important to remember that sensitive crimes and crimes of domestic violence will not end unless the cycle of violence is broken. Accordingly, it is the policy of this office that treatment of both the domestic abuser and any underlying issues (alcohol/drug) should be addressed and incorporated into any sentencing recommendation in cases involving domestic violence. When making sentencing recommendations in cases involving child victims, the focus should be on the protection of not only the particular victim, but also the protection of all children in our community.
Residential Burglary by a Stranger:
All citizens of Winnebago County have the right to not only feel safe in their homes, but also to actually be safe in their homes. The population dynamic of this county is changing and as the population of our county continues to age, the citizens of Winnebago County are more vulnerable to becoming victims of crime. Accordingly, residential burglary offenses committed by strangers will result in harsh recommendations.
To say that drugs negatively impact our communities is understating the seriousness of this issue. Drugs are at the root of many areas of crime in this county, including property offenses and crimes against persons. Drugs present a constant danger to the public and it is the responsibility of our office to ensure that the citizens of this county are protected from the widespread effects of drugs. Accordingly, it is the policy of our office that the following crimes should usually be accompanied by a prison recommendation:
- burglaries of narcotics/pharmacies, and
- manufacture and/or distribution of drugs
Due to the opioid epidemic, there has been a shift in how the Winnebago County District Attorney’s Office deals with drug issues. The Winnebago County District Attorney’s Office has been a leader in finding solutions to drug dependence, with a bifurcated goal of working to address the underlying issues of addiction as well as protecting the community from the collateral consequences of addicted individuals engaging in other criminal activities.
Additionally, drug dealers will be harshly penalized.
Accordingly, the property of drug dealers will be seized through contraband hearings. The proceeds from these forfeitures will directly benefit Wisconsin schools.
Gang Related Offenses:
No community is immune from either the presence of or the effects of gang activity and the cost of gang activity and violence in our communities is high both in economic and human terms. Accordingly, it is the policy of our office that gang related offenses are to be taken seriously and vigorously prosecuted. Because it is the responsibility of our office to safeguard the rights of all members of our community, this policy extends to all gang related offenses ranging from "tagging" to battery and drug dealing.
The Winnebago County District Attorney’s Office recognizes that charging individuals with a crime is a serious matter for all parties involved. Convicting someone of a crime, particularly a felony crime, can result in collateral consequences (i.e. loss of job, loss of housing). The Winnebago County District Attorney’s Office issues felony charges with the intent that the matter be resolved in a felony conviction or a successful completion of a diversion program.
Note – These policies and guidelines are subject to change and updating.