The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) announced on Aug. 12 that charges had been filed in a double murder that occurred more than 30 years ago.
Tony G. Haase, age 51, of Weyauwega, was charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the deaths of Timothy W. Mumbrue and Tanna M. Togstad, in Waupaca County. The two were found stabbed to death inside Ms. Togstad’s home on March 21, 1992. A dog was also found stabbed to death at the scene. According to DCI, the arrest was made possible by recent DNA testing.
Certain types of homicide have no statute of limitation and can be charged at any time in Wisconsin, no matter how many years have passed. Most other offenses have limited timeframes for filing charges.
Purpose of Statute of Limitations
Most crimes have a specific statute of limitations that defines how long after the offense prosecutors can file charges. Physical evidence and eyewitness memories tend to deteriorate with the passing of time. The timeframe for charges varies. In general, the more serious the crime, the longer the timeframe in which charges can be filed.
Each state determines the statute of limitations for crimes in its jurisdiction.
Once the time limit has passed, a prosecutor cannot charge anyone with the crime. An exception is when the clock is paused, also called “tolled.” If the suspected party flees the state to avoid charges, the clock stops ticking and restarts when they return. Tolling prevents a suspect from going into hiding to avoid charges.
Wisconsin Crimes with No Statute of Limitations
Some crimes are considered so serious that the state has no time limit to press charges.
Wisconsin crimes with no timeframe for charges include the following:
- First-degree intentional homicide
- First-degree reckless homicide
- Felony murder
- Second-degree intentional homicide
- First-degree sexual assault
- First-degree sexual assault of a child
Like in the case of Mr. Haase, DNA is often a turning point in prosecutors bringing able to file charges on decades-old cases. Like any criminal defendant, he is innocent until proven guilty.
Some Crimes Have Long Charging Windows
Investigators and prosecutors are given longer periods of time for other serious crimes. Second-degree reckless homicide can be charged up to 15 years after the crime. Prosecutors have 10 years to charge second-degree or third-degree sexual assault. Class C repeated sexual assault on the same child, sexual exploitation or tracking of a child, patronizing or soliciting a child for prostitution, and sexual assault of a child by a school staff person or volunteer can be charged up until the victim reaches the age of 45. The state can bring charges until the victim reaches the age of 26 in Class D or E repeated sexual assault on the same child. Physical abuse of a child can be charged up until the victim reaches age 26 or 45, depending on the specifics of the case.
Most Other Felonies Must Be Charged Within 6 Years
Wisconsin limits prosecution to six years after most felonies have been committed. Arson, kidnapping, and manslaughter are examples of felonies. Misdemeanors and adultery have the shortest statute of limitations – three years. Examples of misdemeanors include vagrancy, disorderly conduct, and trespassing.
Comprehensive Criminal Defense for All Offenses
If you are suspected of a misdemeanor or felony, you need skilled legal counsel to go to battle for your future. At the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, we dig deep into every detail of a case to determine how to best help our clients.
Criminal charges and convictions can have a lasting impact on your life. Attorney Cherella creates a defense that best supports your case. His more than two decades of legal experience enables him to effectively negotiate with prosecutors with the goal to have charges reduced or completely dropped.
Learn more about how we fight for our clients in the Milwaukee area. Schedule a consultation by calling (414) 882-8382.