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Drug Crime Lawyer in Racine - Possession and Dealing Racine office (Near the Village Center Strip Mall)

Penalties for drug crimes in Racine and Kenosha counties vary depending on the type of drug, the amount, and whether you're accused of possession or believed to be selling. Misdemeanor drug possession could have a maximum penalty of up to 3.5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both. A felony-level maximum penalty could reach 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Possession of heroin, narcotics, or methamphetamine typically results in felony charges with possible prison time, fines, and the possibility of a driver’s license suspension of up to 5 years.

Glenn Gaskill

OWI & Criminal Defense Attorney

Tom Grieve

OWI & Criminal Defense Attorney

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Several different factors determine what type of drug charge you may be facing in Wisconsin. The drug, the amount, the county where you are charged, and whether you are accused of being in possession or believed to be selling drugs are a few of the key factors that will determine how a drug case is handled. Your charges could be as low as a non-criminal ticket, to as high as a felony case. Similarly, your penalties for a drug charge range from prison time to a fine with no criminal conviction on your record. 

Being charged with possession of marijuana can be a non-criminal ticket, a criminal misdemeanor, or potentially a felony charge. If you are charged with a ticket, your sentence will include a fine and possibly a driver’s license suspension. For a criminal misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to jail, have to pay a fine, or placed on probation. If you have a drug conviction on your record, your offense could include a second or subsequent modifier making your charge a felony. A second or subsequent marijuana possession is a class I felony punishable by up to three and half years in prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both.

A first offense possession of cocaine charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. With a prior drug conviction, you could face a second or subsequent charge modifier for cocaine possession, which is a class I felony punishable by up to three and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Drug Charges in Racine & Kenosha Counties

Type of Drug Matters

Often the most significant factor in the treatment of your drug case is the type of drug involved. Unlike in Illinois and many other states, possession of marijuana is still illegal in Racine, Kenosha, and all of Wisconsin. But, while still illegal, a marijuana case will not be treated as seriously when compared to possessing a drug such as heroin. Often prosecutors will have a sliding scale regarding the type of drug you are charged with and how serious they believe it to be. Generally speaking, marijuana is the least serious illegal drug. Following marijuana, “party drugs” like ecstasy, LSD, shrooms, and MDMA are the next wrung on the seriousness scale. Finally, the most serious cases typically include methamphetamine, heroin, opiate-based medications like oxycodone and OxyContin, cocaine, and crack cocaine.

With the heroin and opioid problems the community is facing in Wisconsin, many prosecutors consider possession of these drugs incredibly serious and attempt to ensure anyone facing charges for these types of drugs is convicted of a felony offense. Anytime a person is charged with a felony offense they are facing potential prison time and considerable, lifelong consequences.

If you are accused of selling drugs, even charges related to marijuana will be considered very serious. Delivering or selling drugs are felony offenses punishable by multiple years in prison. The Racine and Kenosha drug lawyers at Grieve Law have experience with all levels of drug cases and will work with you to best defend against your case.

County Matters

Criminal Drug Lawyers for Marijuana

Each county in Wisconsin has its own district attorney, police force, along with other government agencies that make and enforce the laws at the county level. The independence of each county means that the same circumstances in two different counties can produce different charges and often will receive different treatment from the prosecutor handling your case.

There are counties in Wisconsin that are known to be harsher across the board when dealing with criminal cases regardless of the individual involved and the facts of the case. However, every county has a particular offense they deal with more harshly than others and charges where the judges are more forgiving. There are no explicit rules as to which charges are going to be dealt with more harshly or more leniently, and it often varies from county to county sometimes with neighboring counties dealing with the same charges drastically differently. When hiring a lawyer, you must make sure that they are familiar with the county your case is charged in, the type of offense you are facing, and specifically how that offense is dealt with in the particular county.

The offer a prosecutor gives you to resolve your case could be great in one county but terrible just across the county border. Our award-winning Racine and Kenosha lawyers will help you evaluate your case specific to your county and help you decide the best way to proceed to get the best possible outcome for you on your case.

Buying Vs. Selling Matters

Another factor in determining the charge you will face and the treatment you will receive from the prosecutor and judge is if you are in possession of or are selling a drug. Buying and possessing drugs is still a part of the drug trade that furthers other more significant charges, but if you are charged with selling drugs you will be facing harsher penalties and less leniency from the judge.

The least serious drug offense is possession. If drugs are found in your possession and the police do not believe you're involved in selling or delivering drugs you will be charged with possession. In plain English, the police believe you are simply a drug user. The type of drug determines whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a low-level felony for a simple possession charge.

The next level in drug possession cases is possession with intent to deliver. If you were found to be in possession of drugs, there are many different factors considered by police in determining whether you are selling those drugs. Some of the factors the police will consider are how the drugs are packaged (for example, multiple packages of the same amount), the paraphernalia found with the drugs (like scales and bags), the amount of drugs and the amount of money.

The most significant drug possession charge is delivery of drugs. Selling or delivering drugs always results in being charged with a felony offense, punishable by time in prison. Both the amount of prison time and the level of felony offense are dependent on the drug and amount you are accused of selling.

The most frequent way a person is caught selling drugs is when the police used confidential informants or CI's. It is typical for there to be a long delay after the sale or delivery of drugs prior to charges being issued. This delay can be both to try and protect the CI, and also to have evidence on multiple sales to use against you.

Amount Matters

The amount or weight of the drugs found in your possession will also factor into how your case is treated, the charges you will face, and the penalties. Often police and prosecutors will consider a small amount of drugs to be “personal use” meaning the individual is only charged with possession.

Instead, if you are found in possession of large amounts of drugs, you are likely to be charged with possession with intent to deliver. Both the type of drug and the quantity will determine if you are charged with a misdemeanor or are instead facing a felony, which is the difference between months in jail and life-altering prison time.

Other Factors to Consider

Just like you can be charged for selling to a CI, the police may give you the opportunity to work as a confidential informant as well. If you choose to work with the police, you will be asked to purchase drugs from other people and testify against them.

While ultimately working as a CI can have a significant impact on how your drug case is handled, it is not a decision that should be made without weighing all the pros and cons. Successful work as a CI can end with having your charges reduced or dropped completely. On the other hand, if you were unsuccessful as a CI, you may not receive any benefit for the work you do with the police and may still face the negative consequences of a CI.

If you choose to work as a CI, the police will not make any promises as to how it will affect your case. You will not be given a specific equation to “work off” your charges. The police will not offer you a specific deal, instead, they will give you a threshold to reach and tell you they will see what they can do on your behalf. No promises or guarantees will be made if you choose to work as a CI.

On the other hand, police do have an incentive to fulfill their side of the agreement. An officer who has a reputation of being untrustworthy will have a difficult time finding a person to act as a CI in the future. But, as you will not be given any promises or guarantees only vague assurances that the officer will do what they can, the consideration you get may not be consistent with your expectations.

There are many factors to consider when deciding if you should work as a CI. Our team of Racine and Kenosha drug lawyers are experienced in helping people navigate the decision working as a CI and will be there to help you make the best decision for your case.

How long do drug charges stay on my record?

If you are convicted of a drug offense, that conviction will stay on your record permanently. Beyond the jail time, fines and driver’s license suspension that you face, you may also have limitations on your ability to obtain a concealed carry license, employment or loans for school. It is possible you may be able to have your drug offense expunged, but expunction does not remove a conviction it only seals the record from public view.  An expunged drug conviction may still need to be reported on a job application or other licensing applications.

How to beat a drug case in Racine

Your ability to beat a drug case generally comes down to four different areas:

Police contact

There are legal requirements governing police contact, meaning there must be a legal reason for the police to have contact with you. In a drug case, most frequently, police contact happens following a traffic stop for a claimed violation. Police can also legally stop you simply walking down a street. No matter how the contact is initiated, it must be legal. The police cannot stop you without a legitimate legal reason. If there is no legitimate legal reason for the police stopping you, any evidence found on you can be thrown out. This means that if drugs are found in your car, but the police did not have a legitimate reason to pull you over, the drugs may be deemed inadmissible.


Just as the police must have a legitimate reason to stop you, they must also have a legal reason to search either you or your car. Searching your car, your person, backpack, or a purse without a legal reason can result in anything found being thrown out.


Statements made to police about your case often will have a negative impact on being able to defend against your charges. Frequently police will ask you questions that seem innocent, however, this is a way police are able to get you talking so they can use that information against you later.

Any experienced lawyer will tell you not to talk to the police, but your case may not be over even if you do. Police must follow the law when asking questions and if they do not your statements may be thrown out.


Frequently when charges originate from a CI buy, you may feel as though police set you up. Being set up to commit a crime by police is called entrapment. Entrapment is when you are forced or significantly pushed by police or government agents to commit a crime that you would not have otherwise committed in order to start criminal prosecution against someone.

Demonstrating that police committed entrapment is not a simple task. If a person reaches out to you to buy drugs and you sell to them that is not enough for an entrapment defense. Instead, if that person asks you day after day to sell them drugs, pressuring you to sell to them even after you have said no, that could be entrapment. The ultimate question for an entrapment defense is who created the intent to commit the crime.

Entrapment is defined as an affirmative defense, meaning that you are not denying the crime but instead saying other factors caused you to commit the crime. Affirmative defenses can only be raised at trial and come with significant risks as you have to admit you committed the crime.

Typically, a jury will not believe an entrapment defense, that without the pressure from the police you would not have committed the crime. However, a skilled lawyer will analyze your case and help you determine if this is an option.

Get in touch with our award-winning Racine and Kenosha drug lawyers to discuss your case so that we can identify the strengths and weaknesses to determine the best way to fight against your charges.

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We know
because we were prosecutors.

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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