Wisconsin Appeals Court Refuses to Reduce Prison Sentence in Shawano County Child Pornography Case

By Reddin & Singer

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In an unpublished opinion, a man was accused of possessing more than 200 images of child pornography as well as the possession and subsequent sale of marijuana in Shawano County, Wisconsin. After he was charged, the man entered a plea of no contest.

A presentence investigation report (“PSI”) indicated that the man had more than 5,000 digital pornographic photos depicting prepubescent children in his possession at the time he was arrested. The PSI also indicated the man secretly videotaped his neighbor children, the man did not believe he was addicted to pornography, and he refused to provide requested information regarding his sexual history. Ultimately, the PSI recommended that the man receive a 90-year prison sentence followed by 90 years of supervised release. The State of Wisconsin requested that the man receive a 30-year prison sentence followed by extended supervision for 25 years. Counsel for the man argued he should receive a sentence of no more than 10 to 15 years of confinement.

The circuit court imposed a 30-year prison sentence followed by 25 years of additional supervision. After he was sentenced, the man filed a post-conviction motion with the court. In his motion, the man claimed his child pornography sentence was by far the highest imposed in the county in recent years. In addition, the convicted man claimed his sentence should be reduced based on an expert’s evaluation that stated he was unlikely to sexually assault a child or other person.

The circuit court discounted the expert’s testimony because it was based on insufficient information. The court also apparently considered a law enforcement officer’s statement that the convicted man threatened the author of the PSI from jail. After considering the purportedly new information offered by the man, the circuit court declined to alter his sentence. The man then filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District III.

On appeal, the Wisconsin court first stated whether new facts that were unknown to the circuit court at the time of criminal sentencing warranted a sentence modification was a question of law. Despite this, the appellate court said it would defer to the lower court’s discretion. Next, the court said even if the convicted man established that new factors existed, the circuit court properly exercised its discretion when it declined to modify his sentence.

According to the appellate court, the man’s claim that his sentence was disparate did not establish a sufficient reason to reduce his prison term because his claim did not take into account the nature and volume of the child pornography images found in his possession. Likewise, the appeals court stated the circuit court properly exercised its discretion when it discounted the expert opinion offered by the man in his post-conviction motion because the expert did not review all of the evidence offered at trial.

Finally, the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District III affirmed the circuit court’s decision.

If you were accused of possessing child pornography in Wisconsin, you are advised to discuss your rights with an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. To speak with a knowledgeable Milwaukee criminal attorney today, do not hesitate to contact the law offices of Reddin & Singer, LLP online or give us a call at (414) 271-6400.