Rick Coad is an attorney in Madison, WI. He focuses his practice on criminal defense, appeals, and personal injury. The results he achieves for his clients have earned him recognition by Super Lawyers ten times.
Wisconsin Pardons Granted - January 2023
We are thrilled that two of our clients for whom we drafted pardon applications were granted pardons by Governor Evers. Rick really enjoys working with clients who are deserving of pardons, and using his skill and attention to detail to write the best application he can for those clients. It’s rewarding when that good work pays off, and when the Governor’s office agrees that those clients are worthy of pardons. Both of the clients who were recently granted pardons had very old convictions for controlled substances offenses. Both clients were young when they committed their offenses, and neither ever had another criminal offense. Both clients went on to live productive lives, raise families, and in our opinion (and the Governor’s) were worthy of a pardon. If you have a criminal conviction and think you might be a good candidate for a pardon in Wisconsin, our attorneys would be happy to speak with you about your application. Just give us a call.
2022 was a good year for Coad Law and its clients. At the beginning of the year we invested in developing another practice area to serve individuals and families in the Madison, WI area – estate planning. While different in substance from much of our work, it is yet another way to help our clients protect their families and secure their future through avoiding the conflict in court we normally assist with. We developed a process to deliver estate planning in a timely, cost effective way, to deliver what our clients need. It has gone so well that we started it as a stand alone practice, Capitol Estate Planning. We look forward to seeing it grow.
Meanwhile, we have kept our same high standards of delivering exceptional results to our clients in court and administrative hearings. We have helped a number of clients avoid being charged with crimes after arrest by convincing the district attorney’s office that prosecution wasn’t warranted. Other cases resulted in referrals to deferred prosecution, amendments from criminal charges to ordinance violations, and outright dismissals. A good example of our work in state court was the deferred prosecution we secured for our client accused of keeping well over a $100,000 of his employees’ tax withholdings. The case was prosecuted by the Department of Justice. We take pride in our ability to navigate financial cases including tax fraud cases, embezzlement, and wire fraud, among others.
In federal court we again assisted clients charged with violations of the Lacey Act both in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Notably, a client accused of illegally purchasing fish eggs from sturgeon in Wisconsin, a federal felony offense, was only convicted of a misdemeanor and a small fine.
Rick Coad continues to be recognized as a leading federal criminal defense lawyer, being named for the fifth year in a row to Super Lawyers.
That’s a short recap, but we wanted to express our gratitude for the opportunity to serve our clients.
Rick Coad Named by Super Lawyers in 2022
For the fifth consecutive year Rick Coad was named by other Wisconsin lawyers and judges as a 2022 Wisconsin Super Lawyer in the area of Criminal Defense. Only the top 5% of lawyers in Wisconsin are named to the prestigious list. Rick was previously named as a Super Lawyer from 2018 to 2021 and as a Super Lawyers Rising Star seven times before that. For more than a decade he has consistently been recognized as one of the best criminal defense lawyers in Wisconsin.
This recognition reflects Rick’s commitment to getting the best possible result for his clients. Rick’s goal for his clients is for them to be better off for choosing him as their attorney. His success comes from that mindset. And his clients reap the benefits.
Reflecting on 2021
We represented dozens of clients in 2021. There were cases we expected to win, and those that were extremely tough to get good results for our clients. In federal court, Rick was able to negotiate two felony cases to misdemeanors with sentences of probation and no prison time in the Western District of Wisconsin and the District of North Dakota. In federal court, that is no small feat. In a large multi-million-dollar marijuana and money laundering case in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Rick successfully negotiated an amended charge of structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements (commonly referred to as “structuring”), which carried a far lower maximum penalty, and then secured a sentence of a year of probation with no prison or jail time. And in a very difficult Lacey Act case in District Court in Oklahoma City, which involved the sale of an endangered species, Rick successfully argued for a sentence of probation with no prison or jail time. Those are the results we point to when we say we consistently achieve exceptional results for our clients in difficult cases.
We had our successes in state court, too. Most notably, Rick secured outright dismissal in two second degree sexual assault cases. The stakes don’t get much higher, but a stubbornness and investment of time in analyzing and investigating the facts led to those results. In one of those cases, Rick also won a probation revocation hearing that included examining 10 witnesses (and defending against a low burden of proof for the department of corrections) that would have sent his client to prison for many, many years.
Other cases resulted in referrals to deferred prosecution, amendments from criminal charges to ordinance violations, and outright dismissals. It’s easy to overlook the cases we handled before a client was formally charged in court that resulted in convincing a prosecutor not to charge the case at all – yet those might be some of the most impactful cases for our clients’ lives.
We successfully assisted more than a dozen University of Wisconsin – Madison students in matters as simple as underage drinking, keeping their records clean, and in more complicated matters alleging sexual harassment and Title IX violations.
And now that Governor Evers is fully engaged in the pardon process, we have helped secure our fair share of pardons for clients as well.
That’s a year’s work. It’s not been an easy year. It can be difficult work, and difficult times for our clients. But doing our best to get those good, and sometimes exceptional, outcomes is why we have thrived as a law firm for more than 10 years. We’ll put in the same effort in 2022.
Rick Coad Named to Super Lawyers Again in 2021
For the fourth consecutive year Rick Coad was named by other Wisconsin lawyers and judges as a 2021 Wisconsin Super Lawyer in the area of Criminal Defense. Only the top 5% of lawyers in Wisconsin are named to the prestigious list. Rick was previously named as a Super Lawyer in 2018, 2019, 2020 and as a Super Lawyers Rising Star seven times before that. For more than a decade he has consistently been recognized as one of the best criminal defense lawyers in Wisconsin.
This recognition isn’t a fluke or because Rick is a nice guy (although he mostly is). It’s a reflection of the years of dedication to the craft of being a defense lawyer. Rick’s goal for his clients is for them to be better off for choosing him as their attorney. His success comes from that mindset. And his clients reap the benefits.
Another Second Degree Sexual Assault Case Dismissed - Dane County - Madison, WI (2021)
This case is another example of how an aggressive and thorough investigation to counter the state’s investigation can lead to an outstanding result. The client was accused of sexual assault in Dane County, WI (Madison) (a class C felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years). Prior to the court case, his probation officer took him into custody and the Department of Corrections sought to revoke his supervision based on the accusation. Along with his skilled investigator, Rick put together a defense that won an all-day revocation hearing with more than ten witnesses testifying. And on cross-examination of the complaining witness, Rick discredited her version of events by finding key inconsistencies in her story and constructing a timeline that left her claim incredible. Months later, Rick convinced the district attorney’s office that it could not carry its burden of proof, and it dismissed the serious felony case prior to trial.
Second Degree Sexual Assault Case Dismissed - Dane County - Madison, WI (2021)
Attorney Rick Coad defended a client charged with one count of Second Degree Sexual Assault with the Use of Force, and two counts of Fourth Degree Sexual Assault in Dane County, WI. Mr. Coad’s client was a registered nurse with no prior criminal history. His client had his career and livelihood on the line. Through a thorough investigation, Attorney Coad discovered evidence that contradicted the complaining witness’s version of events, and showed that the encounter was consensual. He also hired an expert to conduct a forensic evaluation of his client’s phone and was able to construct a timeline of events that showed the complaining witness’s version of events was likely false. Attorney Coad successfully negotiated the dismissal of all of the charges prior to trial. The result achieved shows the critical importance of the defense thoroughly and aggressively investigating a case and then understanding how to persuasively communicate that information to achieve an exceptional result.
Pardon Granted - Madison, WI (2021)
The client asked Attorney Coad to lend his extensive postconviction experience to assist with a pardon application to Governor Ever’s Pardon Advisory Board. Attorney Coad assisted the client in drafting the petition and, importantly, in diligently preparing the client for his interview in front of the Pardon Advisory Board. With the aid of Attorney Coad’s expertise, the client was granted a pardon. He can now live his life without the consequences of a felony conviction. Contact Rick Coad today if you are interested in obtaining a pardon.
Rick Coad Named Super Lawyer - December 1, 2020
Attorney Rick Coad was named by other Wisconsin lawyers and judges as a 2020 Wisconsin Super Lawyer in the area of Criminal Defense. Super Lawyers rates attorneys in 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only the top 5% of lawyers in Wisconsin are named to the prestigious list. Rick was previously been named as a Super Lawyer in 2018 and 2019, and as a Super Lawyers Rising Star seven times before that. For more than a decade he has consistently been recognized as one of the best criminal defense lawyers in Wisconsin.
Federal Marijuana Distribution Case – Client Sentenced to Probation (Western District Wisconsin – Madison)
Attorney Coad represented a client charged in the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison) with conspiracy to distribute large amounts of marijuana from Washington state to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The government believed the client grew marijuana in Washington, and collected large amounts of marijuana from other growers there to distribute in Wisconsin. Originally, the client was charged with a count that carried a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison. Attorney Coad carefully review of a massive amount of police reports, undercover recordings, bank records, and cell phone records. He also aggressively investigated the case. He discovered significant number of inconsistencies, exaggerations, and problematic sworn testimony by witnesses in front of the grand jury. The government agreed to allow the client to plead guilty to a charge that did not carry a mandatory minimum penalty. At sentencing, Attorney Coad convinced the court to impose a sentence of probation.
2nd Degree Sexual Assault Case Dismissed (Dane County)
Attorney Rick Coad represented a client charged with one count of 2nd Degree Sexual Assault with the Use of Force, two counts of 4th Degree Sexual Assault with the use of a dangerous weapon, and one count of disorderly conduct with the use of a dangerous weapon in Dane County, WI. A woman claimed that in the early morning hours the client threatened her and sexually assaulted her in a motel room in Madison, WI. Her account of what happened left out critical portions of the encounter that didn’t match the physical evidence in the case. Through thorough investigation, Attorney Coad discovered evidence that filled in the missing pieces of her story, and ultimately revealed that she had lied to the police about the nature of their encounter. Attorney Coad successfully negotiated the dismissal of all of the charges prior to trial. The result achieved shows the critical importance of the defense examining every detail in a timeline of events, and thoroughly and aggressively investigating a case. Smart and thorough work.
Domestic Battery, Intimidation of a Witness with Force – Dane County, Madison, WI
Attorney Coad represented a client charged in Madison, Wisconsin with misdemeanor domestic battery and felony intimidation of a witness with the use of force. The case arose out of an argument between the client and his wife. The police were called by a friend of the wife who lived in Hawaii and was communicating with her by Facebook message. The friend reported that the wife told her that the client had battered his wife and threatened her. By the time the police arrived, both the client and his wife were sleeping. The police forcibly entered the apartment when no one answered the door, and aggressively questioned the couple. Attorney Coad advanced information to the prosecutor that his client’s wife was extremely intoxicated at the time, and that she had misreported the incident to her friend. The client’s wife insisted to Attorney Coad that she had not been abused by her husband. As trial approached, Attorney Coad convinced the prosecutor that he could not win a trial and that the right thing to do based on the facts known to the parties was for the state to dismiss the case. The prosecutor dismissed all charges before trial.
Federal Court – Western District of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Attorney Coad represented a client charged with the embezzlement of money from the bank at which she was employee in the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison). The case was further complicated by the fact that the client was a local government clerk, which was a customer at the bank. Attorney Coad negotiated a plea to bank theft, which lowered the potential punishment. However, the United States Sentencing Guidelines still called for a potential term of imprisonment. At a contested sentencing hearing, Attorney Coad successfully argued for a term of probation. Coad has a proven track record of getting his clients their best possible outcomes in federal fraud, money laundering and embezzlement cases. Call for a consultation.
Dane County – Possession of Heroin
Recently, Rick Coad represented two clients in felony possession of heroin cases in Madison, WI. The state’s proof in each case was difficult to defend. Each client resided out of state, which meant that they were not eligible for drug court programs in Dane County Circuit Court. Attorney Coad stretched the timeline of the cases out and arranged for the clients to get drug treatment and urinalysis testing to prove to the prosecutors that they were making progress and were committed to becoming sober. After the clients had made progress, Attorney Coad negotiated with the prosecutors to dismiss the felony charge in each case. When representing clients in drug cases, or for that matter in any type of case, it is critical to hire an experienced attorney who understands the criminal justice system and how to manage a case to achieve the best result for his clients – even if there is no viable defense at trial. Call Coad Law Office for a consultation with experienced criminal defense attorneys.
Federal Court – Western District of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Attorney Coad represented a client from Oregon who was charged with being a member of a conspiracy to distribute marijuana in the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison). He was also charged with money laundering. The drug charge carried a mandatory minimum penalty of five years imprisonment. After a thorough review of a large amount of police reports and bank and telephone records, Coad successfully argued to the U.S. Attorney’s office that his client was a peripheral member of the drug conspiracy, and that the amount of drug weight he should be responsible for was significantly less than the others in the conspiracy. He negotiated a settlement for a plea to the money laundering charge, and successfully argued to the court for a sentence of just three months of electronic monitoring and a period of supervision. Even in federal cases where the government’s proof of wrongdoing makes it difficult to win a trial, an experienced federal defense attorney can get his client a successful outcome. Call Coad Law for a consultation in a federal drug case.
Dane County – Domestic Battery; Domestic Disorderly Conduct
The client was charged with two counts of domestic battery and one count of disorderly conduct. The case involved very difficult facts, including injuries and threats of future violence. Through careful representation, Attorney Coad negotiated a settlement that dismissed all criminal offenses in favor of a non-criminal disorderly conduct ticket. To achieve a good result such as this requires an experienced attorney like Mr. Coad, who understands how to investigate a case and address the concerns of a prosecutor and court.
Dane County – Felony Theft
The client was charged with felony retail theft for taking property that had a value in excess of $500, in violation of Wis. Stat. Sec. 943.50. She had no prior criminal convictions, but she was not a United States citizen. Attorney Coad consulted with an immigration attorney to ensure that he resolved the case in a way that did not adversely affect his client’s immigration status. Attorney Coad was able to negotiate a plea agreement to dismiss the felony and that allowed the client to be referred to the deferred prosecution program on a misdemeanor charge. All charges will be dismissed upon successful completion of the deferred prosecution program.
Dane County – Substantial Battery, Use of a Dangerous Weapon
The client was charged with substantial battery with the use of a dangerous weapon, a felony. Prior to trial, Attorney Rick Coad convinced the prosecutor that his client had a very good self-defense claim, and that the complaining witness was unreliable. The prosecutor agreed to dismiss the charge.
January 1, 2016 – Coad Law News Update
Rick Coad is pleased to announce that veteran Madison trial lawyer Dennis E. Burke has joined Coad Law. Denny is regarded by other lawyers and judges as one of the best trial lawyers in Madison. No lawyer has tried and won more criminal cases in Dane County, Wisconsin, than Denny. He brings a wealth of experience and skill, and a proven track record of getting his clients their best possible result. Together, Rick and Denny provide their clients with one of the most formidable criminal defense teams in Wisconsin. Tough cases are their forte. Contact them for a consultation.
Wisconsin Post-Conviction Motion Win
The client had pleaded guilty to multiple felony convictions, including distribution of heroin and cocaine, and substantial battery in Jackson County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to five years in prison. The client hired Mr. Coad to review his case for possible appellate or post-conviction issues. In carefully reviewing the case, Mr. Coad found issues related to whether the client’s plea was a knowing and voluntary plea, and whether his trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance of counsel in advising the client about the guilty plea.
Normally, attacking a guilty plea with a post-conviction motion has very long odds of success. Mr. Coad filed a motion, and the court granted an evidentiary hearing. At the hearing, Mr. Coad subpoenaed the trial counsel, and questioned him on the stand. Through tough and thorough questioning, Mr. Coad established that the trial counsel had not properly advised the client about the plea, and had made significant errors. In addition, Mr. Coad attacked the plea colloquy between the client and the judge for deficiencies. The court ruled that the client’s plea was not knowing and voluntary, and that the trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance of counsel as well. The client was allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas and receive a new trial, and was released from prison.
Columbia County – Portage, WI Drug Distribution Success
The client was charged with possession with intent to deliver three ounces of cocaine in Columbia County (Portage, WI). The police had obtained a search warrant for his home, and had a team of officers ready to execute the search. The police had been following the client as he drove toward his home. The police stopped him, detained him, and put him in a squad car. Just after the squad car took him to jail, a K-9 unit arrived at the scene of the stop. The dog alerted to the presence of drugs. Three ounces of cocaine were found in the vehicle.
Attorney Coad filed a motion to suppress the evidence because the search violated the Fourth Amendment. In particular, he argued that the Fourth Amendment does not allow the stop or detention of an individual away from his home that is the subject of a search warrant, which is consistent with the holding in Bailey v. United States, 568 U.S. ___ (2013). In Bailey, the Supreme Court held that just because an individual was a recent occupant of home subject to a search warrant does not justify the stop and detention of that individual when he is not present at the place to be searched. Attorney Coad applied that rationale to his client’s circumstances. He also argued that the K-9 search was illegal because his client had already been arrested and taken to jail by the time the K-9 unit arrived. Thus, the length of the stop was impermissibly lengthened to allow for that search. The state conceded that the stop and arrest was illegal, and dismissed the charge.
Personal Injury (Car Accident) Settlement, Madison, WI
Attorney Rick Coad negotiated a six-figure settlement for his client who was injured in an automobile accident. The client suffered a fractured pelvis and collarbone (clavicle) in a one-car accident. The client was the passenger in a car that veered off the road and struck a tree due to the driver’s inattentive driving. The driver’s insurance policy limits were insufficient to cover the client’s medical bills and pain and suffering claims. Thus, Rick had to pursue what is called an underinsured motorist claim with the client’s automobile insurance carrier. When the negligent party’s insurance coverage is too low to fully compensate a person injured in an accident, the injured person may pursue recovery of additional damages from his or her own insurance company from the underinsured motorist bodily injury term of his policy. This term, along with the uninsured motorist term, are often overlooked by an injured person. Through persistent negotiating, Rick was able to recover the policy limits from both insurance companies, providing his client with the maximum available settlement.
Federal Court – Eastern District of Wisconsin, Green Bay, WI
The client was charged with several felony violations of the Lacey Act – a federal wildlife protection law – and making a false statement to a federal agent (18 U.S.C. Section 1001) in the Eastern District of Wisconsin (Green Bay). The Lacey Act makes it a crime to knowingly sell, ship, or receive in interstate commerce wildlife that was taken in violation of state wildlife regulations. In this instance, the government believed that the client had aided and abetted two illegally guided bear hunts, and then later lied about the hunts to an agent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On the eve of trial, the government agreed to dismiss all of the felonies and allow the client to plead guilty to two misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act. At sentencing, the government argued for a prison sentence. Rick Coad argued for a term of probation without jail. The court agreed.
Federal Court – Eastern District of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
The client was charged in a marijuana conspiracy and money laundering. The amount of marijuana involved carried a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. The client had shipped marijuana from California to Wisconsin. The government dismissed the money laundering count, and drastically reduced the amount of marijuana for which the client was responsible. The client was sentenced to time served (22 days in jail), three years of supervised release, and a forfeiture.
Fond du Lac County Circuit Court, Wisconsin
The client was charged with first-degree reckless homicide of a toddler for whom he was caring. First-degree reckless homicide requires the state to prove that the defendant was reckless and that he acted with utter disregard for human life. The client had no criminal history or history of physical abuse. He claimed it was simply a horrible accident. Through detailed and insightful analysis of the evidence, Attorney Coad convinced the state that the offense did not involve utter disregard for human life, and allowed for a plea to second-degree reckless homicide, which carried a much smaller maximum penalty. The State argued for a five-year prison sentence. Rick Coad persuaded the court to impose a sentence of probation with conditional jail time with work release.
Federal Court – Western District of Wisconsin
The client, a car and farm implement dealer, was charged with bank fraud for misleading the bank as to the status of the dealership’s inventory during the great recession when cars simply were not selling. The United States Sentencing Guidelines called for a prison sentence. The government wanted the client to go to prison. The district court agreed with Attorney Coad that prison time would not serve the purposes of sentencing and sentenced the client to a day in custody deemed served, followed by a term of supervision.
Federal Court – Eastern District of Wisconsin
The client was charged with straw purchasing firearms for an undercover agent who claimed to be a convicted felon and thus unable to purchase a gun. The client had no criminal history and significant health and addiction issues. Attorney Coad convinced the government that no prison term was necessary. The court sentenced the client to probation.
Federal Court – Eastern District of Wisconsin, Green Bay
The client had been convicted in the trial court for a marijuana conspiracy. The client sought counsel for a motion for early termination of a five-year period of supervised release after serving about half of it. Mr. Coad drafted a motion for early release and the court granted it.
Dane County, Wisconsin