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Felony murder charge without committing violent crimes?

When Wisconsin residents face criminal charges, the possible penalties may be severe. If someone died during the commission of the alleged offense, an additional charge of felony murder may be filed. It is not necessary to be charged with violent crimes in order for prosecutors to add this charge.

Wisconsin's felony murder law does not require the person charged with it to have actually killed anyone. It is enough that the person was accused of being involved in the incident that led to the death. If convicted, additional incarceration time is added to whatever sentence is imposed for the initial crime.

For instance, in two separate cases that occurred in two separate Wisconsin cities, police shot and killed someone as they were responding to an incident or pursuing suspects. The officers involved in the shootings were cleared of any criminal responsibility, but the individuals accused of the crimes that led to the deaths face felony murder charges. To illustrate the severity of the penalties associated with a felony murder charge, in one of these cases, the person accused faces an additional 15 years in prison if convicted.

Facing charges for any crime -- whether nonviolent or violent crimes -- threatens an individual's freedom. However, adding a charge of felony murder only increases the need for a strong criminal defense. Anyone facing criminal charges retains the right to counsel, but when the stakes are made even higher, it becomes even more crucial to ensure that the right person is on an individual's side.

Source: postcrescent.com, "Seldom-used felony murder law targets people who cause police shooting deaths", Andy Thompson, June 18, 2017

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