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Penalties for drug convictions in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, depend on the type of drug, the amount and the alleged incident. Convictions involving Schedule I and II controlled substance narcotics (marijuana, ecstasy, LSD, and others) could range from a maximum penalty of $10,000 to $100,000 and 3.5 years to 40 years in prison.

Tom Grieve

OWI & Criminal Defense Attorney

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Penalties for illegal drug possession in Brookfield can include:

  • Jail or prison time from 6 months to 6 years or longer
  • Hefty fines up to $10,000
  • Drug treatment programs, which are costly
  • Probation for multiple years
  • Being disqualified for federal loans for college
  • Lost employment opportunity

Charges involving drugs can either be misdemeanors or felonies. That will depend on the type of drug, the quantity of those drugs, any prior offenses, among many other things. The best way to know what you are facing is by talking to an experienced Waukesha criminal defense attorney who can walk you through your case.

 

Drug charges in Wisconsin vary greatly depending on several different factors. The type of drug, the amount of the drug, the county where the charges occur, and whether the person charged is accused of selling the drugs are some of the differences that will affect how a drug case is handled. Drug charges can range from a non-criminal civil forfeiture violation up to felony-level offenses for the delivery of drugs. Penalties for these offenses vary greatly as well, from as low as fines up to decades in prison. 

Type of Drug Matters

One of the biggest factors in the treatment of any drug case is the type of drug you are charged with possessing. Although it is legal in many states, marijuana possession is still illegal in Wisconsin. So, while you can still face charges for possessing marijuana in Wisconsin, it will not be treated as seriously as if you were charged with possessing heroin or a more serious drug. 

Generally, prosecutors have an unwritten hierarchy of the seriousness of drugs you could be charged with possessing. Marijuana is generally the least serious. Typical “party drugs” such as MDMA, ecstasy, LSD and shrooms are generally the next level up in seriousness following marijuana. The most serious cases include possession of heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine, crack cocaine and opiate-based pills like oxycodone and OxyContin. 

Because of the ever-increasing opiate and heroin problem in Wisconsin, most prosecutors treat possession of these drugs very seriously and will make every effort to ensure that anyone charged with possessing these drugs is convicted of a felony offense. Felony offenses carry the potential for prison time and significant, long term consequences. 

Even the drugs considered least serious will be treated very seriously if you are accused of selling them. Delivery or selling of any drug will be charged as a felony offense that could result in many years in prison. Our Waukesha drug attorneys are experienced with all levels of drug cases and can put you in the best position possible in your case. 

County Matters

In Wisconsin, each county has its own police force, district attorney, and other governmental agencies that enact and enforce laws at the county level. Because of this, you may find that an arrest for possession of cocaine in one cocaine is treated very differently than an arrest for the same thing the next county over. 

Some counties are known to be harsher on all criminal cases, regardless of the facts of the case. But every county has some offenses that treated more seriously than others, and some offenses that result in more lenient punishment. This usually varies from county to county and can often seem to be opposite in county from another. It is important that your attorney is familiar with the types of offenses that your county takes most seriously so they can put you in the best position possible to make educated decisions about your case. 

An offer to resolve your case may be an excellent outcome in one county, whereas it would be a huge loss to receive the same resolution in another county only a few miles away. Our Waukesha attorneys have the experience to help walk you through the details of your case in your county to make sure you have the best information possible to determine how best to proceed in your case. 

Buying and Selling Matters

Another factor in how seriously your drug case will be treated is whether you are charged with merely possessing the drug, or whether you are charged with selling that drug. Any involvement in drug activity is a serious offense, but it will be treated much more seriously if you are charged with selling or intending to sell the drug. 

Possession of a drug is the least serious drug offense. Possession is charged when the police find a drug in your possession, but they do not believe that you involved in the sale or delivery of that drug. In simple terms, they believe you are just using the drug. Simple possession charges can be misdemeanors or low-level felonies, depending on the type of drug. 

Possession with intent to deliver is the next step up in drug possession charges. This offense is charged when you are found in possession of drugs, and the circumstances of your possession cause the police to believe that you intend to sell those drugs to someone else. Factors the police consider include how much of the drug you have with you, how the drugs are packaged, and whether you have any other drug paraphernalia such as a scale that might indicate sale of the drugs. The police will also consider a large amount of cash to be a sign that you are selling drugs. 

Delivery of drugs is the most serious of drug possession charges. Delivering or selling drugs is always a felony offense that carries potential prison time. The level of felony and the amount of potential prison time will vary depending on the type of drug you are charged with selling and how much you are selling. 

There are many ways the police can catch people selling drugs, but most often it is through the use of confidential information or CI. Often, a person will be charged with delivery of drugs many months or even years after the sale occurred. This is because the police will work with a CI for many months in an attempt to get multiple controlled buys against the same person. 

Amount Matters

Another factor in how seriously your drug case is treated, and the penalties you will face, is the amount of drugs you are charged with possessing. Smaller amounts of drugs are sometimes referred to as “personal use” amounts, meaning it is only an amount that a single person would use. This generally is an indication that the person charged is not involved in the sale of the drug. Rather, they are a user and should only be charged with simple possession. 

If you are caught possessing a large quantity of drugs, you are more likely to face charges for possession with intent to deliver. The quantity and type of drug you are charged with possessing will determine whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony and whether you face a few months in jail or decades in prison. 

Other Factors to Consider

If you are arrested for possession of drugs, the police may offer you the opportunity to work as a confidential informant, or CI. If you work as a CI, the police would ask you to purchase drugs from other people to catch those people in illegal drug activity. 

The decision about whether or not to become a CI is not one that should be made lightly. Working as a CI can have a significant benefit to your case. If you are successful as a CI, you could find that your charges are reduced or even dropped completely. However, if you are not successful, you might receive little or no benefit for the work you did for the police, and you still risk the negative repercussions of working as a CI. 

When asking you to become a CI, the police will not make you any promises. For example, you will not be told that if you get 3 or 4 buys on a couple of dealers, your felony charge will be reduced to a ticket. The police will not make any specific deal with you. Rather, they will tell you that if you get 3 or 4 buys, they will see what they can do for you. You will not be given any promised outcome. There are no guarantees when you work as a CI. 

Officers have an incentive to hold up their end of the bargain, however. If an officer gets a reputation for going back on their word, it will be difficult for them to get CI’s in the future. But keep in mind that an officer’s word will be very vague. Even if the officer “does what he can do for you”, you may not think you have received enough benefit for the work you did. 

Working as a CI is a complex decision with a lot of aspects to consider. Our team of Waukesha drug attorneys can help guide you through the process of working as a CI, and help you make the best decision for your case. 



How long does a drug case stay on my record?

Any conviction for a drug case will stay on your record for the rest of your life. In addition to potential jail time, fines, and driver’s license suspension, you may also face restrictions on your ability to get a concealed carry license, employment, or loans for school. Some drug offenses may be eligible for expunction. However, expungement does not remove the conviction from your record. Rather, it simply removes the conviction from public view. You may still be required to report an expunged drug conviction on job applications or other licensing applications.

How do I beat a drug case?

There are generally four areas that might give rise to defenses in a drug case.

Police contact

The police must have a legal reason to have contact with you. Often this comes in the form of a traffic stop of your vehicle following an alleged traffic law violation. Police contact can also result from stopping you as you are walking down the street. Either way, any initial police contact must be legal. The police must have a legitimate, legal reason for stopping you. If the police action in stopping you is illegal, it can result in any evidence they find in any subsequent being ruled inadmissible against you. This means that any drugs found following an illegal stop may not be able to be used as evidence against you. 

Search

Police must have a legal reason to search your car or your person. Police cannot search your car, your backpack, or your purse without a legal reason. If they do not have that legal reason, any drugs they find in that illegal search can be thrown out and may not be able to be used against you. 

Statement

Any statements that you make to police can have a negative impact on your case. The police will often ask you questions and ask you to tell them what is going on. This is a way that police are able to get people talking and making incriminating statements. 

Any good attorney will tell you not to talk to police. However, it is not the end of your case if you did. There may be challenges to the statement you made. The police must follow the law when asking questions, and if they did not, your statements could be thrown out. 

Entrapment

If you were arrested following a CI buy, you may feel like you were unfairly set up by law enforcement. The common argument in these cases is that you were induced to commit a crime by police. This is called entrapment. Entrapment occurs when a person is induced or coerced by police or government agents to commit a crime they had not previously intended to commit for the purpose of starting a criminal prosecution against that person. 

Someone asking you to sell them drugs and you agreeing is not enough to show entrapment. However, if they keep asking you, day after day, calling you, telling you they really need you to do this for them so they can help a sick family member, that could be entrapment. The big question in entrapment cases is where the intent to commit the crime came from. 

Entrapment as a defense is an affirmative defense. This means that you are not denying that you committed the crime, but rather you are saying that there are other factors at play that mitigate the crime you committed. Because it is an affirmative defense, it can only be raised at a trial. And in order to raise it, you must admit that you committed the crime. 

As a practical matter, entrapment is rarely a successful defense. But an experienced attorney can review your case and determine if it is an option in your case. 

Contact our team of experienced Waukesha drug attorneys to review your case and let us talk you through the aggravating and mitigating factors in your case, and any possible defenses you may have. 

 

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Tom Grieve, the firm's managing attorney and founder, is a former state prosecutor and is not the only ex-prosecutor at the firm. We love hiring attorneys from both sides of the wall to bring as many perspectives to fight your case as aggressively as possible. The State of Wisconsin likes it when you choose the run-of-the-mill fee to plea™ lawyers who don't even know how to analyze and defend cases instead of experienced criminal attorneys:

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