LEFT TO RIGHT: Karleigh Miller, Christopher Wilhelm, and Alicia Linzmeier
Being a defendant in a criminal case can be a confusing, frightening, and isolating experience. It can feel like everyone — police, prosecutors, judges — are against you. That’s why it’s vital to have experienced attorneys in your corner — attorneys with the skill to help you navigate the legal system and reach the best outcome possible.
“The way I see the work of a criminal defense attorney is that we are sometimes the only person in the room who’s looking out for our client’s rights, and ensuring that If the full weight of the government is coming at someone that they do their job correctly,” explained attorney Alicia Linzmeier, part of the team of defense attorneys at Cohen Law Offices.
“Criminal defense gives me one-on-one work with specific clients, helping them achieve the goals that they have with their cases and potentially being the only person in the courtroom who is standing by their side during a really difficult time, which is really important to me,” added Linzmeier, a native of Pulaski and a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School.
Under the leadership of Michael Cohen, who has practiced in western Wisconsin for more than 30 years, the attorneys at Cohen Law Offices focus entirely on criminal law, defending clients against charges ranging from drunken driving to sexual assault to homicide.
Whatever the charges, the attorneys concentrate on protecting constitutional rights and the presumption of innocence, which sits at the center of American justice. It all begins with helping clients understand the charges they face and the complexities of the legal system.
“If you don’t understand the law, you don’t necessarily know what’s going on in court,” said attorney Christopher Wilhelm, who grew up in Ashland and who holds a law degree from Marquette University. A well-prepared client, however, can better understand what’s happening because Wilhelm and his colleagues have walked them through the decisions they will face and will speak on their behalf.
“My job is then to say ‘Here are your options as we sit here right now. You’ve told me your goal is X, so I think our best move forward is Y,’ ” Wilhelm said. “And then that decision tree carries all the way through to trial, maybe a resolution, or if a case is dismissed.”
Wilhelm often finds himself informing people that defendants are innocent until proven guilty.
“A lot of people come in thinking they have to prove their innocence, which is not the case,” he said. “I have to remind them your job is not to prove anything.”
Eau Claire-based Cohen Law Offices represents clients across west-central Wisconsin, from Hayward to Wisconsin Rapids to Hudson. The attorneys all have areas of focus: For example, Wilhelm handles felony-level violent crimes and sexual assault cases while Linzmeier has begun to focus on domestic cases. Their colleague Karleigh Miller — an Iowa native and graduate of Creighton University School of Law in Nebraska — focuses primarily on Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) cases.
“One thing that I think sets our office apart is that Mr. Cohen has had the foresight to look at our skills and then encourage us to follow our skills,” Miller said. “By focusing on one type of criminal defense you get to be very skilled at it. There’s efficiency in the way that you can handle a case and can think about it because you’ve litigated several motions on that type of law, or you’ve written several types of law and you know how the judge is going to respond and how the laws interact with each other.”
Above all, the attorneys at Cohen Law Offices are zealous defenders of their clients’ constitutional rights.
“I’ve always had the mindset that I don’t like the government infringing on people’s rights,” Miller said. “I appreciate that I’m helping someone that is facing a difficult time and facing the possibility of their loss of liberties and other rights.”
They are also dedicated to listening to — and acting on behalf of — their clients’ needs.
“I have a very firmly held belief that everybody is more than the worst thing they’ve ever done,” Linzmeier added. “Everyone deserves a competent, dedicated attorney on their side through a process that is for a lot of people one of the most confusing times in their life or one of the most stressful times in their life.”