SHELL LAKE -- A Spooner woman has plead guilty in Washburn County Circuit Court to a reduced charge of Misdemeanor Child Neglect and the Court has ordered her to serve 1 year on probation.

Krystle Smith was facing charges of Felony Child Neglect following an incident on June 5, 2017, when Spooner Police Department responded to a call for assistance. There were scratches on the child's face and the child's face was visibly swollen and red according to the criminal complaint filed against Smith. The criminal complaint went on to state that Smith was unable to coherently explain to officers what had happened to the child or what had transpired that evening. Tests conducted on Smith's blood and urine came back positive for Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Opiates, and Cocaine as well as indicating that she had a blood alcohol level of 0.195.

Online circuit court records show that on September 11, 2017, Smith appeared in Washburn County Circuit Court and entered a plea of no contest to a reduced charge of Misdemeanor Neglecting a Child. She was ordered to serve 1 year of probation under the supervision of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

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Incident at Spooner Residence Results in Felony Child Neglect Charges

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 | by Ben Dryden

WASHBURN COUNTY, Wis. -- Felony Child neglect charges have been filed in Washburn County Circuit Court against Krystle E. Smith, after an incident which recently occurred at a residence in Spooner, WI.

According to the criminal complaint, Spooner Police Department was dispatched shortly after 10:00 P.M. on June 5, 2017, to a residence on Park West Avenue in the City of Spooner, WI, due to a call for assistance. The caller stated that he wasn't sure what had happened and he requested a female officer to assist because he was concerned that Smith may have been injured, perhaps by someone breaking into their residence. 

Officers arrived at the residence and observed a young child (born in January 2016) walking around dressed only in a diaper. The criminal complaint states that one side of the child's face was red and somewhat swollen and there visible scratches on the child's face as well as discolored marks on the child's legs. Smith was unable to coherently answer the officers' questions regarding the child's condition or whether the child had eaten supper.

The caller stated to officers that he had been away from the residence while at work for about 6 hours and that Smith was in charge of caring for their child 3-4 times a week while he is away at work.

Officers also located a one-litre bottle of vodka which was ¾ empty. Smith reportedly told officers that she had consumed a lot of alcohol, starting at around 4:00 or 5:00 P.M. When officers asked Smith about her earlier statements about taking pills, she denied taking any medication. Officers did interview some of the residents of neighboring homes, however, no one reported witnessing anything unusual.

Smith was transported by ambulance to the Spooner Emergency Room for evaluation and medical care. The criminal complaint states that tests conducted on Smith's blood and urine came back positive for Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Opiates, and Cocaine as well as indicating that she had a blood alcohol level of 0.195. 

Once cleared by medical personnel, Smith was placed under arrest for criminal child neglect. The complaint states that a follow-up interview would be conducted between Spooner Police Department and the Washburn County Department of Health and Human Services regarding this incident.

Smith appeared in Washburn County Circuit Court on June 6, 2017, for a bail hearing at which time the Court placed her on a signature bond and ordered her to have no contact with the child. The Court also ordered Smith not to consume any alcohol. 

Public record shows that at an Initial Appearance hearing on June 26, 2017, for Smith's charges, the Court amended the Bail Bond to allow contact between Smith and the child provided it is non-abusive contact and is consistent with the protective plan of the department. 

If convicted of this charge, Smith could face a maximum penalty of 6 years confinement in state prison, or a maximum fine of $10,000, or both. 

Smith is scheduled to appear again on July 12, 2017. contacted our legal eagle, area attorney Joseph Schieffer, for more insight regarding this type of case:

"When considering whether or not a charge or charges are appropriate, Wisconsin prosecutors and defense attorneys alike often go directly to the Wisconsin Jury Instructions. While their main purpose is self-apparent from their very name, they are many times used well before a jury hears the evidence. The jury instructions give a list of elements the state must prove in order for the defendant to be found guilty. Jury instructions can be changed by the court to better address the evidence in a certain case when applicable.Jury instructions are often more articulated that found in the Wisconsin Statutes as their main purpose is to educate a jury on what the “law” is in lay-persons terms. 

"The crime of Neglecting a Child: Bodily Harm, under Wisconsin Statute 948.21(1)(b) has 4 main elements the State must prove. See Wis. JI 2150 A First, the State must show that the child was under the age of 18. Id. Next, the State is required to prove that the defendant was a person responsible for the welfare of the child. Id  Third, the burden is on the State to show that the defendant intentionally contributed to the neglect of the child. Id  Finally, the State has to show that bodily harm was a consequence of the defendant intentionally contributing to the neglect of the child. Id

"As jury instructions are intended to educate a lay person on the law, they often contain definitions of words and legal history on how they have been interpreted. For example, in the above crime, “bodily harm” is defined as any physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical conditions."


About Attorney Joseph Schieffer: Joseph has formerly prosecuted cases in Barron & Washington counties in Wisconsin. Currently, he is a solo practitioner in Cumberland, Wisconsin specializing in criminal defense and civil litigation in Barron, Washburn, Rusk, Burnett, Sawyer, and surrounding counties. He can be reached at with questions or comments.

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