In Wisconsin Criminal Cases, “DRI” means Dismissed but Read In. It is important to know what this means if you are considering taking a plea bargain.  Let’s say you got into a bar fight and now have two charges, Disorderly Conduct and Battery. The prosecutor offers you a deal: plead guilty to the battery, and he will DRI the Disorderly. What does this mean?

For starters, it means you are found guilty of the battery because you plead to it. You could face up to a $10,000 fine and 9 months in jail. The Disorderly conduct will be Dismissed — that’s the easy part of DRI.  Once dismissed, it can never be charged again, meaning you can never be found guilty of it, ever. You can never be sentenced to jail for the Disorderly and you can never be fined.

Now for the “Read In” part. When a charge is read in, you are admitting it happened for the purposes of the sentencing in the case. While the judge can’t go over the 9 months jail on the battery, he can give you more jail than he would have had there been no disorderly conduct. So a judge might say, “I was going to give you 3 months on this battery, but because you also committed disorderly conduct, I am going to make it 4.” That is still under 9 months, but you got more because of the read in charge.

But it gets worse. If you get in trouble years from now and are convicted of something else, the judge can go back and look at your record and hold that battery against you again, for the same reason.  Although the passage of time dims the significance of any crime, the “read In” charge never goes away. Even though you were never convicted of it, it will continue to haunt you.

It is easy for attorneys to tell you not to worry about a read in charge. After all, it is getting dismissed, and that’s pretty significant. But you should be aware of the consequences of that DRI charge, because they do have the power to impact your future.


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