Villamil argues that under the rule of lenity he can only be convicted of a misdemeanor, but the court disagrees. That rule applies only if a court is unable to clarify the intent of the legislature, State v. Cole, 2003 WI 59, ¶67, 262 Wis. 2d 167, 663 N.W.2d 700, and here “Villamil caused the death of another and knew his license had been revoked. The legislative history shows, and Villamil acknowledges, that the legislature intended to treat his offense as a Class H felony.
The rule of lenity applies only when the statute is ambiguous and the court can’t clarify the intent of the legislature by resort to legislative history. State v. Cole, 2003 WI 59, ¶67, 262 Wis. 2d 167, 663 N.W.2d 700. (¶8).
In this case, each of Deleon’s contemptuous acts was separated by a question or comment from the court. As a result, the court properly determined his actions amounted to distinct contemptuous acts.Of note: the court deems that the rule of lenity “applies only to criminal statutes and the contempt statutes are civil in nature,” ¶12, citing State v. Cole, 2003 WI 59, ¶13, 262 Wis. 2d 167, 663 N.W.2d 700 for the former principle and State v. Carpenter,179 Wis. 2d 838, 840, 508 N.W.2d 69 (Ct. App. 1993) for the latter. Carpenter indeed holds “that contempt of court is not a crime,” id.
See Dairyland Greyhound Park, Inc. v. Doyle, 2006 WI 107, ¶32, 295 Wis. 2d 1, 719 N.W.2d 408,” ¶22.Statutory Construction: Rule of Lenity¶26 The rule of lenity comes into play only when a court is unable to clarify the intent of the legislature, see Cole, 262 Wis. 2d 167, ¶67, and we have clarified the legislative intent of Wis. Stat. § 940.
State v. Tommie L. Cole, 2003 WI 59, on certification For Cole: Suzanne L. Hagopian, SPD, Madison AppellateIssue/Holding:¶9. The court of appeals asks that we determine what combination of confinement in prison and extended supervision constitutes the presumptive minimum sentence when a statute provides that an offender “shall be imprisoned for not less than 3 years.”