A former sergeant at the Milwaukee Police Department was sentenced to one year of probation on March 28 after he pleaded to lesser charges in a felony stalking case. According to reports, the man was charged with felony stalking last year after a woman he was dating claimed that he harassed her after they broke up. The woman accused the man of sending her unwanted texts and Facebook messages, as well as calling her phone continually and coming to her house.
The man pleaded guilty to a lesser, misdemeanor charge of unlawful use of a phone. The maximum sentence for the charge was a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail — substantially less than what the felony would have carried. The judge sentenced the man to 60 days in the House of Correction and one year of probation and ordered that the man could not contact either the woman who accused him or any other witnesses. The jail time was stayed unless he violates his probation.
The man was fired from his position with the police department on Nov. 19 and is now trying to get his job back. He has filed an appeal for the termination to the Fire and Police Commission. The appeal could not be finalized until the criminal case was over because if the man would have been convicted of a felony, he would not have been able to serve as an officer again. If he wins the appeal and is reinstated, he will be eligible to receive back pay for the time between his termination and reinstatement.
As in this case, a felony conviction can often make it harder for a person to find a job or go on with life after the trial has ended. By pleading to lesser charges, the former officer was able to increase the chances that he will be able to get his position back or find other employment in the same field. While a plea bargain may not be something a defendant wants to consider, it can sometimes be the best solution when keeping in mind the long-term consequences of felonies.
Source: Journal Sentinel, “Fired Milwaukee police officer sentenced to probation in stalking case” Ashley Luthern, Mar. 28, 2014