Joinder of crimes and of defendants. 971.12(1)(1)
Joinder of crimes.
Two or more crimes may be charged in the same complaint, information or indictment in a separate count for each crime if the crimes charged, whether felonies or misdemeanors, or both, are of the same or similar character or are based on the same act or transaction or on 2 or more acts or transactions connected together or constituting parts of a common scheme or plan. When a misdemeanor is joined with a felony, the trial shall be in the court with jurisdiction to try the felony.
(2) Joinder of defendants.
Two or more defendants may be charged in the same complaint, information or indictment if they are alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction or in the same series of acts or transactions constituting one or more crimes. Such defendants may be charged in one or more counts together or separately and all of the defendants need not be charged in each count.
(3) Relief from prejudicial joinder.
If it appears that a defendant or the state is prejudiced by a joinder of crimes or of defendants in a complaint, information or indictment or by such joinder for trial together, the court may order separate trials of counts, grant a severance of defendants or provide whatever other relief justice requires. The district attorney shall advise the court prior to trial if the district attorney intends to use the statement of a codefendant which implicates another defendant in the crime charged. Thereupon, the judge shall grant a severance as to any such defendant.
(4) Trial together of separate charges.
The court may order 2 or more complaints, informations or indictments to be tried together if the crimes and the defendants, if there is more than one, could have been joined in a single complaint, information or indictment. The procedure shall be the same as if the prosecution were under such single complaint, information or indictment.
History: 1993 a. 486
If two defendants were charged and the cases consolidated, and one then pleads guilty, there is no need for a severance, especially if the trial is to the court. Nicholas v. State, 49 Wis. 2d 678
, 183 N.W.2d 8
Severance is not required if the two charges involving a single act or transaction are so inextricably intertwined so as to make proof of one crime impossible without proof of the other. Holmes v. State, 63 Wis. 2d 389
, 217 N.W.2d 657
Due process of law was not violated, nor did the trial court abuse its discretion, by denying the defendant's motion to sever three counts of sex offenses from a count of first-degree murder. Bailey v. State, 65 Wis. 2d 331
, 222 N.W.2d 871
In a joint trial on charges of burglary and obstructing an officer, while evidence as to the fabrication of an alibi by the defendant was probative as to the burglary, the substantial danger that the jury might employ the evidence as affirmative proof of the elements of that crime, for which the state was required to introduce separate and independent evidence showing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, required the court to administer a clear and certain cautionary instruction that the jury should not consider evidence on the obstructing count as sufficient in itself to find the defendant guilty of burglary. Peters v. State, 70 Wis. 2d 22
, 233 N.W.2d 420
Joinder was not prejudicial to the defendant moving for severance when the possibly prejudicial effect of inadmissible hearsay regarding the other defendant was presumptively cured by instructions. State v. Jennaro, 76 Wis. 2d 499
, 251 N.W.2d 800
If a codefendant's antagonistic testimony merely corroborates overwhelming prosecution evidence, refusal to grant severance is not an abuse of discretion. Haldane v. State, 85 Wis. 2d 182
, 270 N.W.2d 75
Joinder of charges against the defendant was proper when separate acts exhibited some modus operandi. Francis v. State, 86 Wis. 2d 554
, 273 N.W.2d 310
The trial court properly deleted implicating references from a codefendant's confession rather than granting the defendant's motion for severance under sub. (3). Pohl v. State, 96 Wis. 2d 290
, 291 N.W.2d 554
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying a severance motion and failing to caution the jury against prejudice when two counts were joined. State v. Bettinger, 100 Wis. 2d 691
, 303 N.W.2d 585
Joinder is not prejudicial when the same evidence would be admissible under s. 904.04 if there were separate trials. State v. Hall, 103 Wis. 2d 125
, 307 N.W.2d 289
The trial court abused its discretion in denying a motion for severance of codefendants' trials when the movant made an initial showing that his codefendant's testimony would have established his alibi defense and his entire defense was based on the alibi. State v. Brown, 114 Wis. 2d 554
, 338 N.W.2d 857
(Ct. App. 1983).
Joinder under sub. (2) was proper when two robberies were instigated by one defendant's prostitution and the other defendant's systematic robbing of customers who refused to pay. State v. King, 120 Wis. 2d 285
, 354 N.W.2d 742
(Ct. App. 1984).
To be of “the same or similar character" under sub. (1), crimes must be of the same type, occur over a relatively short time period, and evidence as to each must overlap. State v. Hamm, 146 Wis. 2d 130
, 430 N.W.2d 584
(Ct. App. 1988).
If an appellate court vacates a conviction on one or more counts when multiple counts are tried together, the defendant is entitled to a new trial on the remaining counts upon showing compelling prejudice arising from evidence introduced to support the vacated counts. State v. McGuire, 204 Wis. 2d 372
, 556 N.W.2d 111
(Ct. App. 1996), 95-3138
A violation of sub. (3) does not require a new trial in all cases but is subject to harmless error analysis. State v. King, 205 Wis. 2d 81
, 555 N.W.2d 189
(Ct. App. 1996), 95-3442
Simultaneous trials of two defendants before two juries is permissible. An impermissible confession in one case not heard by the jury in that case accomplishes the required severance of the cases. State v. Avery, 215 Wis. 2d 45
, 571 N.W.2d 907
(Ct. App. 1997), 96-2873
For severance to be granted, it is not sufficient to show that some prejudice was caused. Any joinder of offenses is apt to involve some element of prejudice to the defendant, since a jury is likely to feel that a defendant charged with several crimes must be a bad individual who has done something wrong. However, if the notion of involuntary joinder is to retain any validity, a higher degree of prejudice, or certainty of prejudice, must be shown before relief will be in order. State v. Linton, 2010 WI App 129
, 329 Wis. 2d 687
, 791 N.W.2d 222
Sub. (1) is broadly construed in favor of initial joinder. The court has historically favored initial joinder particularly when the charged crimes were all committed by the same defendant. State v. Salinas, 2016 WI 44
, 369 Wis. 2d 9
, 879 N.W.2d 609
In assessing whether separate crimes are sufficiently “connected together" for purposes of initial joinder under sub. (1), the court looks to a variety of factors, including: 1) are the charges closely related; 2) are there common factors of substantial importance; 3) did one charge arise out of the investigation of the other; 4) are the crimes close in time or close in location, or do the crimes involve the same victims; 5) are the crimes similar in manner, scheme, or plan; 6) was one crime committed to prevent punishment for another; and 7) would joinder serve the goals and purposes of this section. State v. Salinas, 2016 WI 44
, 369 Wis. 2d 9
, 879 N.W.2d 609
In evaluating the potential for prejudice, when evidence of the counts sought to be severed would be admissible in separate trials, the risk of prejudice arising because of joinder is generally not significant. State v. Watkins, 2021 WI App 37
, 398 Wis. 2d 558
, 961 N.W.2d 884
Criminal Law—Joinder and Severance Under the New Wisconsin Criminal Procedure Code. 1971 WLR 604.
No person who lacks substantial mental capacity to understand the proceedings or assist in his or her own defense may be tried, convicted or sentenced for the commission of an offense so long as the incapacity endures.
A defendant shall not be determined incompetent to proceed solely because medication has been or is being administered to restore or maintain competency.
The fact that a defendant is not competent to proceed does not preclude any legal objection to the prosecution under s. 971.31
which is susceptible of fair determination prior to trial and without the personal participation of the defendant.
The fact that a defendant is not competent to proceed does not preclude a hearing under s. 968.38 (4)
unless the probable cause finding required to be made at the hearing cannot be fairly made without the personal participation of the defendant.
Judicial Council Committee's Note, 1981:
Fundamental fairness precludes criminal prosecution of a defendant who is not mentally competent to exercise his or her constitutional and procedural rights. State ex rel. Matalik v. Schubert, 57 Wis. 2d 315
, 322 (1973).
Sub. (1) states the competency standard in conformity with Dusky v. U.S., 362 U.S. 402
(1960) and State ex rel. Haskins v. Dodge County Court, 62 Wis. 2d 250
, 265 (1974). Competency is a judicial rather than a medical determination. Not every mentally disordered defendant is incompetent; the court must consider the degree of impairment in the defendant's capacity to assist counsel and make decisions which counsel cannot make for him or her. See State v. Harper, 57 Wis. 2d 543
(1973); Norwood v. State, 74 Wis. 2d 343
(1976); State v. Albright, 96 Wis. 2d 122
(1980); Pickens v. State, 96 Wis. 2d 549
Sub. (2) clarifies that a defendant who requires medication to remain competent is nevertheless competent; the court may order the defendant to be administered such medication for the duration of the criminal proceedings under s. 971.14 (5) (c).
Sub. (3) is identical to prior s. 971.14 (6). It has been renumbered for better statutory placement, adjacent to the rule which it clarifies. [Bill 765-A]
Defense counsel having reason to doubt the competency of a client must raise the issue with the court, strategic considerations notwithstanding. State v. Johnson, 133 Wis. 2d 207
, 395 N.W.2d 176
A probationer has a right to a competency determination when, during a revocation proceeding, the administrative law judge has reason to doubt the probationer's competence. The determination shall be made by the circuit court in the county of sentencing, which shall adhere to this section and s. 971.14 to the extent practicable. State ex rel. Vanderbeke v. Endicott, 210 Wis. 2d 502
, 563 N.W.2d 883
There is a higher standard for determining competency to represent oneself than for competency to stand trial, based on the defendant's education, literacy, fluency in English, and any physical or psychological disability that may affect the ability to communicate a defense. When there is no pre-trial finding of competency to proceed and postconviction relief is sought, the court must determine if it can make a meaningful nunc pro tunc inquiry. If it cannot, or it finds that it can but the defendant was not competent, a new trial is required. State v. Klessig, 211 Wis. 2d 194
, 564 N.W.2d 716
A prior mental illness or a mental illness diagnosis made subsequent to the proceeding in question may create a reason to doubt competency, but neither categorically creates a reason to doubt competency. State v. Farrell, 226 Wis. 2d 447
, 595 N.W.2d 64
(Ct. App. 1999), 98-1179
This section codifies the two-part “understand-and-assist" due process test for determining competency set forth in Dusky
, 362 U.S. 402
(1960), that considers whether a defendant: 1) has sufficient present ability to consult with his or her lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding; and 2) has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings. Thus, a defendant is incompetent if he or she lacks the capacity to understand the nature and object of the proceedings, to consult with counsel, and to assist in the preparation of his or her defense. State v. Byrge, 2000 WI 101
, 237 Wis. 2d 197
, 614 N.W.2d 477
. See also State v. Smith, 2016 WI 23
, 367 Wis. 2d 483
, 878 N.W.2d 135
It is entirely reasonable that a competency examination designed to address a defendant's ability to understand the proceedings and assist counsel may also address issues of future dangerousness, which a court may reasonably consider when gauging the need for public protection in setting a sentence. State v. Slagoski, 2001 WI App 112
, 244 Wis. 2d 49
, 629 N.W.2d 50
A judge who carefully considered the transcribed record and her recollection of a previous proceeding involving the defendant did not impermissibly testify. There is no substantive difference between a judge's observation of a defendant's demeanor at the time of a competency hearing and the judge's observations of the defendant at an earlier proceeding. Both may be probative. State v. Meeks, 2002 WI App 65
, 251 Wis. 2d 361
, 643 N.W.2d 526
Counsel's testimony on opinions, perceptions, and impressions of a former client's competency violated the attorney-client privilege and should not have been revealed without the consent of the former client. State v. Meeks, 2003 WI 104
, 263 Wis. 2d 794
, 666 N.W.2d 859
Competency proceedings. 971.14(1g)(1g)
In this section, “department" means the department of health services.
The court shall proceed under this section whenever there is reason to doubt a defendant's competency to proceed.
If reason to doubt competency arises after the defendant has been bound over for trial after a preliminary examination, or after a finding of guilty has been rendered by the jury or made by the court, a probable cause determination shall not be required and the court shall proceed under sub. (2)
Except as provided in par. (b)
, the court shall not proceed under sub. (2)
until it has found that it is probable that the defendant committed the offense charged. The finding may be based upon the complaint or, if the defendant submits an affidavit alleging with particularity that the averments of the complaint are materially false, upon the complaint and the evidence presented at a hearing ordered by the court. The defendant may call and cross-examine witnesses at a hearing under this paragraph but the court shall limit the issues and witnesses to those required for determining probable cause. Upon a showing by the proponent of good cause under s. 807.13 (2) (c)
, testimony may be received into the record of the hearing by telephone or live audiovisual means. If the court finds that any charge lacks probable cause, it shall dismiss the charge without prejudice and release the defendant except as provided in s. 971.31 (6)
The court shall appoint one or more examiners having the specialized knowledge determined by the court to be appropriate to examine and report upon the condition of the defendant. If an inpatient examination is determined by the court to be necessary, the defendant may be committed to a suitable mental health facility for the examination period specified in par. (c)
, which shall be deemed days spent in custody under s. 973.155
. If the examination is to be conducted by the department, the court shall order the individual to the facility designated by the department.
Notwithstanding par. (a)
, if the court orders the defendant to be examined by the department or a department facility, the department shall determine where the examination will be conducted, who will conduct the examination and whether the examination will be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Any such outpatient examination shall be conducted in a jail or a locked unit of a facility. In any case under this paragraph in which the department determines that an inpatient examination is necessary, the 15-day period under par. (c)
begins upon the arrival of the defendant at the inpatient facility. If an outpatient examination is begun by or through the department, and the department later determines that an inpatient examination is necessary, the sheriff shall transport the defendant to the inpatient facility designated by the department, unless the defendant has been released on bail.
If the defendant has been released on bail, the court may not order an involuntary inpatient examination unless the defendant fails to cooperate in the examination or the examiner informs the court that inpatient observation is necessary for an adequate examination.
Inpatient examinations shall be completed and the report of examination filed within 15 days after the examination is ordered or as specified in par. (am)
, whichever is applicable, unless, for good cause, the facility or examiner appointed by the court cannot complete the examination within this period and requests an extension. In that case, the court may allow one 15-day extension of the examination period. Outpatient examinations shall be completed and the report of examination filed within 30 days after the examination is ordered.
If the court orders that the examination be conducted on an inpatient basis, the sheriff of the county in which the court is located shall transport any defendant not free on bail to the examining facility within a reasonable time after the examination is ordered and shall transport the defendant to the jail within a reasonable time after the sheriff and county department of community programs of the county in which the court is located receive notice from the examining facility that the examination has been completed.
The examiner shall personally observe and examine the defendant and shall have access to his or her past or present treatment records, as defined under s. 51.30 (1) (b)
A defendant ordered to undergo examination under this section may receive voluntary treatment appropriate to his or her medical needs. The defendant may refuse medication and treatment except in a situation where the medication or treatment is necessary to prevent physical harm to the defendant or others.
The defendant may be examined for competency purposes at any stage of the competency proceedings by physicians or other experts chosen by the defendant or by the district attorney, who shall be permitted reasonable access to the defendant for purposes of the examination.
The examiner shall submit to the court a written report which shall include all of the following:
A description of the nature of the examination and an identification of the persons interviewed, the specific records reviewed and any tests administered to the defendant.
The examiner's opinion regarding the defendant's present mental capacity to understand the proceedings and assist in his or her defense.
If the examiner reports that the defendant lacks competency, the examiner's opinion regarding the likelihood that the defendant, if provided treatment, may be restored to competency within the time period permitted under sub. (5) (a)
. The examiner shall provide an opinion as to whether the defendant's treatment should occur in an inpatient facility designated by the department, in a community-based treatment program under the supervision of the department, or in a jail or a locked unit of a facility that has entered into a voluntary agreement with the state to serve as a location for treatment.
If sufficient information is available to the examiner to reach an opinion, the examiner's opinion on whether the defendant needs medication or treatment and whether the defendant is not competent to refuse medication or treatment. The defendant is not competent to refuse medication or treatment if, because of mental illness, developmental disability, alcoholism or drug dependence, and after the advantages and disadvantages of and alternatives to accepting the particular medication or treatment have been explained to the defendant, one of the following is true:
The defendant is incapable of expressing an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of accepting medication or treatment and the alternatives.
The defendant is substantially incapable of applying an understanding of the advantages, disadvantages and alternatives to his or her mental illness, developmental disability, alcoholism or drug dependence in order to make an informed choice as to whether to accept or refuse medication or treatment.
The facts and reasoning, in reasonable detail, upon which the findings and opinions under pars. (b)
The court shall cause copies of the report to be delivered forthwith to the district attorney and the defense counsel, or the defendant personally if not represented by counsel. Upon the request of the sheriff or jailer charged with care and control of the jail in which the defendant is being held pending or during a trial or sentencing proceeding, the court shall cause a copy of the report to be delivered to the sheriff or jailer. The sheriff or jailer may provide a copy of the report to the person who is responsible for maintaining medical records for inmates of the jail, or to a nurse licensed under ch. 441
, to a physician licensed under subch. II of ch. 448
, or to a physician assistant licensed under subch. IX of ch. 448
who is a health care provider for the defendant or who is responsible for providing health care services to inmates of the jail. The report shall not be otherwise disclosed prior to the hearing under this subsection.
NOTE: The cross-reference to subch. IX of ch. 448 was changed from subch. VIII of ch. 448 by the legislative reference bureau under s. 13.92 (1) (bm) 2. to reflect the renumbering under s. 13.92 (1) (bm) 2. of subch. VIII of ch. 448.
If the district attorney, the defendant and defense counsel waive their respective opportunities to present other evidence on the issue, the court shall promptly determine the defendant's competency and, if at issue, competency to refuse medication or treatment for the defendant's mental condition on the basis of the report filed under sub. (3)
. In the absence of these waivers, the court shall hold an evidentiary hearing on the issue. Upon a showing by the proponent of good cause under s. 807.13 (2) (c)
, testimony may be received into the record of the hearing by telephone or live audiovisual means. At the commencement of the hearing, the judge shall ask the defendant whether he or she claims to be competent or incompetent. If the defendant stands mute or claims to be incompetent, the defendant shall be found incompetent unless the state proves by the greater weight of the credible evidence that the defendant is competent. If the defendant claims to be competent, the defendant shall be found competent unless the state proves by evidence that is clear and convincing that the defendant is incompetent. If the defendant is found incompetent and if the state proves by evidence that is clear and convincing that the defendant is not competent to refuse medication or treatment, under the standard specified in sub. (3) (dm)
, the court shall make a determination without a jury and issue an order that the defendant is not competent to refuse medication or treatment for the defendant's mental condition and that whoever administers the medication or treatment to the defendant shall observe appropriate medical standards.
If the court determines that the defendant is competent, the criminal proceeding shall be resumed.
If the court determines that the defendant is not competent and not likely to become competent within the time period provided in sub. (5) (a)
, the proceedings shall be suspended and the defendant released, except as provided in sub. (6) (b)
If the court determines that the defendant is not competent but is likely to become competent within the period specified in this paragraph if provided with appropriate treatment, the court shall suspend the proceedings and commit the defendant to the custody of the department for treatment for a period not to exceed 12 months, or the maximum sentence specified for the most serious offense with which the defendant is charged, whichever is less. The department shall determine whether the defendant will receive treatment in an appropriate institution designated by the department, while under the supervision of the department in a community-based treatment program under contract with the department, or in a jail or a locked unit of a facility that has entered into a voluntary agreement with the state to serve as a location for treatment. The sheriff shall transport the defendant to the institution, program, jail, or facility, as determined by the department.
If, under subd. 1.
, the department commences services to a defendant in jail or in a locked unit, the department shall, as soon as possible, transfer the defendant to an institution or provide services to the defendant in a community-based treatment program consistent with this subsection.
Days spent in commitment under this paragraph are considered days spent in custody under s. 973.155
A defendant under the supervision of the department placed under this paragraph in a community-based treatment program is in the custody and control of the department, subject to any conditions set by the department. If the department believes that the defendant under supervision has violated a condition, or that permitting the defendant to remain in the community jeopardizes the safety of the defendant or another person, the department may designate an institution at which the treatment shall occur and may request that the court reinstate the proceedings, order the defendant transported by the sheriff to the designated institution, and suspend proceedings consistent with subd. 1.
If the defendant is not subject to a court order determining the defendant to be not competent to refuse medication or treatment for the defendant's mental condition and if the department determines that the defendant should be subject to such a court order, the department may file with the court, with notice to the counsel for the defendant, the defendant, and the district attorney, a motion for a hearing, under the standard specified in sub. (3) (dm)
, on whether the defendant is not competent to refuse medication or treatment. A report on which the motion is based shall accompany the motion and notice of motion and shall include a statement signed by a licensed physician that asserts that the defendant needs medication or treatment and that the defendant is not competent to refuse medication or treatment, based on an examination of the defendant by a licensed physician. Within 10 days after a motion is filed under this paragraph, the court shall, under the procedures and standards specified in sub. (4) (b)
, determine the defendant's competency to refuse medication or treatment for the defendant's mental condition. At the request of the defendant, the defendant's counsel, or the district attorney, the hearing may be postponed, but in no case may the postponed hearing be held more than 20 days after a motion is filed under this paragraph.
The defendant shall be periodically reexamined by the department examiners. Written reports of examination shall be furnished to the court 3 months after commitment, 6 months after commitment, 9 months after commitment and within 30 days prior to the expiration of commitment. Each report shall indicate either that the defendant has become competent, that the defendant remains incompetent but that attainment of competency is likely within the remaining commitment period, or that the defendant has not made such progress that attainment of competency is likely within the remaining commitment period. Any report indicating such a lack of sufficient progress shall include the examiner's opinion regarding whether the defendant is mentally ill, alcoholic, drug dependent, developmentally disabled or infirm because of aging or other like incapacities.
Upon receiving a report under par. (b)
indicating the defendant has regained competency or is not competent and unlikely to become competent in the remaining commitment period, the court shall hold a hearing within 14 days of receipt of the report and the court shall proceed under sub. (4)
. If the court determines that the defendant has become competent, the defendant shall be discharged from commitment and the criminal proceeding shall be resumed. If the court determines that the defendant is making sufficient progress toward becoming competent, the commitment shall continue.
If the defendant is receiving medication the court may make appropriate orders for the continued administration of the medication in order to maintain the competence of the defendant for the duration of the proceedings. If a defendant who has been restored to competency thereafter again becomes incompetent, the maximum commitment period under par. (a)
shall be 18 months minus the days spent in previous commitments under this subsection, or 12 months, whichever is less.
If the court determines that it is unlikely that the defendant will become competent within the remaining commitment period, it shall discharge the defendant from the commitment and release him or her, except as provided in par. (b)
. The court may order the defendant to appear in court at specified intervals for redetermination of his or her competency to proceed.