From 2010 to 2020 the number of lawyers practicing in Wisconsin ranged from 15,078 to 15,549 (per the ABA). Not all of them practiced in the area of drug charges (trafficking, possession, possession with intent to distribute) or even criminal defense. Before bearing the cost of a defense, it is best to read reviews and ask about costs and experience in similar drug cases.
Wisconsin Drug Lawyers for Possession, Intent, & Dealing Charges
Drug charges can be misdemeanors or felonies depending on the type of drug, the amount, and any prior drug-related offenses. The best way to understand the Wisconsin drug possession penalties you’re facing is by speaking with an experienced Milwaukee or Madison criminal defense lawyer.
7 Attorney Considerations to Reduce or Drop Drug Charges
Every day across Milwaukee and Waukesha County numerous people are arrested for drug charges. What will happen with their case depends on a lot of different factors including how knowledgeable, aggressive and experienced their defense attorney is. But no matter who you are or who you hire, there are seven important things you need to know about your drug case:
1. Cases Are Different by the Drug
This one may seem obvious, but it is extremely important. Law enforcement and the courts are going to look at your case differently depending upon what you're charged with possessing.
While marijuana possession may be legal in some states, it is still illegal in Wisconsin, therefore you are subject to Wisconsin marijuana possession penalties if caught. Although a marijuana charge is not nearly as bad as a heroin charge, having a large quantity in your possession would make the charge much worse. You might actually fare better if charged with possessing a smaller amount of a "more serious drug."
Some examples of more serious drugs would include the various "party drugs" such as possession of MDMA, ecstasy, LSD and hallucinogenic mushrooms. These drugs are generally regarded as somewhere in between marijuana and hard narcotics. Possession of harder drugs, like cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin and opiate-based pills like oxycodone and OxyContin is considered a very serious offense. With the heroin epidemic sweeping Wisconsin, possession of opioid prescription pain killers is a serious offense. Because these are often used by people on the path to heroin, prosecutors will do their best to get anyone caught with any amount of heroin, no matter how small, convicted of a felony. In northern Wisconsin where methamphetamine is more of a problem, prosecutors are equally zealous in getting convictions for possession and, of course, for possession with intent to deliver in Wisconsin.
The charges you are facing depends upon the type of drug as well as whether you obtained the drug by fraud and whether you were involved in making or distributing it. Regardless of what drug charges you face, a skilled defense attorney will be able to carefully assess all of the possible defenses and mitigating circumstances in your case to achieve the best possible outcome.
2. Different by Wisconsin County
Law enforcement in Wisconsin is often organized at the county level. Every county has their own sheriff and district attorney, along with police departments and other forms of government that help make and enforce local policies on narcotics crimes. As a result, you can get arrested for the exact same thing in two different counties and have very different outcomes, simply because law enforcement handles these cases differently in different counties.
Some counties in Wisconsin are harsher on criminal defendants across the board, but every county usually has a few things they go extremely hard on and a few things they’re more lenient about than their neighboring counties. Familiarity with the lay of the land in the local justice system is essential. You need an attorney who understands how cases like yours are treated in the county where your case will be tried.
Jails and prisons are full of people who wanted to be a martyr for their cause or unknowingly became one because they were given bad advice by a defense attorney on what could be accomplished at trial and what couldn’t. What you need is an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case and what can be done to defend against the charges. Contact Grieve Law today.
3. Selling vs. Buying vs. Possession Criminal Defense Attorney
Along with the type of drug you’ve been charged with possessing, it is important to take into account the circumstances. A simple possession charge is considered a lesser crime than a delivery or sale charge. Involvement in any drug dealing activity, regardless of the type of narcotic involved, is always a far more serious charge.
While the old saying “users get probation and dealers go to prison" isn’t always true (especially these days), there is still at least some truth in it. A simple possession charge is when law enforcement alleges you were found to be in possession of a substance. They do not believe you were involved with the sale or distribution of the drug, merely the possession. This is the least serious drug charge.
Possession with intent
A possession with intent charge is when law enforcement alleges you were intending to sell the drugs found in your possession. The court will consider the quantity of drugs/narcotics in your possession at the time of arrest, as well as how the drug was packaged and whether you also had cash and scales with you. There are obviously numerous other factors the court will consider, but these are the most common because they paint a picture of someone involved in dealing drugs.
There are numerous factual and legal issues that play into a Wisconsin possession with intent to distribute charge. For instance, just because someone cashed a recent paycheck and had a digital scale for baking in the kitchen in their car does not mean the person is a drug dealer. An experienced attorney will be able to look at all the evidence against you and build a case for refuting any evidence that can be considered circumstantial.
Delivering and Selling Drugs
A sale or distribution of any drug automatically escalates the seriousness of the charge. It doesn’t matter what kind of drug it was, who it was sold to, or how much was alleged to have been sold. The courts take these cases very seriously. If convicted of delivery or selling drugs, regardless of the amount, you will likely be sentenced to jail. There are numerous different approaches law enforcement uses to catch people involved in the sale and distribution of drugs. Sometimes, law enforcement gets too aggressive and may violate the United States Constitution. A good criminal defense attorney can often use this to have improperly attained evidence thrown out and to build a case for lesser charges.
4. To CI or not to CI?
After an arrest, law enforcement will sometimes ask the person arrested if he/she would be willing to be a confidential informant (CI for short). Under Wisconsin’s confidential informant laws, the police can have you sell or purchase drugs from other individuals so they can catch other people involved in illegal narcotic activity.
Is it a good idea to become a CI?
It all depends. On the one hand, if you do a “good job” for the officers it may result in either a dismissal or reduction of all charges. On the other hand, if you are not able to deliver what the officers were expecting of you, it can backfire and end up hurting you in certain cases.
The undercover narcotics officer who recruits you to be a CI is usually an extremely busy detective working a number of different cases. These officers don’t have time for handholding and answering a lot of questions, and they won’t put up with someone procrastinating in the hope they’ll forget about your case. If they think you are being dishonest with them or holding something back, there will be blowback. Unlike what you may have seen in the movies, there is rarely a specific deal made with confidential informants. upfront. It usually goes like this: “We want you to go ahead and make two to four buys in the largest amount possible from any dealer you want over the next several weeks. If you do a good job, then we will see what we can do for you. If you don’t, we’ll send your charges to the District Attorney’s Office." Doesn’t sound too promising, does it? But this is the sort of deal people find themselves agreeing to with undercover officers.
On the plus side, officers know if they do not honor their end of the bargain it will hurt their ability to get future CIs to agree to help them. As a result, things often end well for people if they do a good job. The more specifics people get about what they're being asked to do, the timeline for getting it done, and what they’ll get in exchange for doing it, the better the chances of it being worthwhile. Sometimes, though, confidential informants feel cheated. They were able to turn over a few dealers but were still charged with their own case. There just aren’t any guarantees when you agree to CI work.
Every scenario involving CI work is different, with a complex range of factors to consider. Before agreeing to work as a CI for the police, it’s a good idea to get the input of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Grieve Law will give you honest, straight talk answers to the questions you have, as well as some you probably haven’t even thought to ask yet.
5. The Holy Trinity for Drug Lawyers
Drug cases are oftentimes decided by one of three different defense issues that come into play; police contact, the search, and confessions.
The initial police contact, sometimes called “the stop," is an extremely important part of a narcotic case. Stops can be made on drivers in their cars or people out walking around. With any stop, the police are required to have a legitimate reason for making the stop.
If anything about the stop was done illegally, it can result in a suppression of all the evidence found in a search—including any drugs. As you can imagine, when there are no drugs involved in a case, the charges have to be dismissed.
It’s essential to have an attorney who knows all the legal technicalities governing police stops. A good attorney can often have a charge summarily dismissed if it can be shown the arresting officer did not follow the laws on how to conduct a stop.
Even if there were drugs in plain view on the dashboard, police officers still need a legal reason to search the car. The same holds true for searches on backpacks, purses, pants pockets and homes/apartments. Even if law enforcement made a legal stop, a search found to be illegal can result in all the evidence in the case being thrown out.
So, again, an attorney well-versed in the procedural rules for police stops and searches is essential—an attorney like the ones at Grieve Law.
Law enforcement always ask people to tell them what is going on. This is a common practice intended to draw out inculpatory statements, and it works. More often than not, the stopped person makes statements that end up being used in court to get a conviction.
While any attorney worth their law degree will advise you to never speak with the police, it may not be hopeless if you did. There are specific rules law enforcement must follow in order to make a confession stand up in court. For instance: Were you in legal custody? If so, were you Mirandized? Did you waive your rights, or did you assert your rights?
There are a lot of complicated factors involved in determining whether or not someone is legally in custody and when law enforcement is required to read you your rights. Thanks to TV shows and movies, most people think the police must always read you your rights in order to make a confession stand up in court. This isn’t the case.
You need the best criminal defense attorney in Wisconsin to contest the actions of the arresting officer. If you’re in a situation where you made a statement to the police that could be construed in any way as a confession, talk to an attorney at Grieve Law.
Many people believe they were unfairly set up by law enforcement and are being unfairly prosecuted. In cases situations like this, it can be argued that the defendant was induced to commit a crime by police officers. This is known as entrapment.
As a legal defense to a criminal charge, entrapment applies to situations where someone is induced or coerced by police officers or government agents to commit a crime not contemplated by the person for the purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against the person.
In criminal cases, entrapment is known as an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is when someone is not saying they didn’t do something, they're saying there are other facts that mitigate the charge against them.
A common example of an affirmative defense is a self-defense homicide. If someone attacks you with a crowbar, you have the right under law to defend yourself. If this results in a homicide charge against you, your defense is that you acted in self-defense. You’re not denying you killed the person, but you are presenting a new fact to defeat the charge against you.
In many cases, entrapment is used to contest drug charges. The simple fact that somebody asked you to make a drug deal for them and you said “sure” isn’t enough to show entrapment. However, if they kept asking you day after day, calling you at home, telling you they really needed this deal to go down so they could get money for an operation their sick child desperately needs, this could be a case where entrapment occurred.
The central issue is not whether an undercover agent or the police gave someone the opportunity to commit a crime and they took it, but instead where did the intent to commit the crime come from in the first place. In the drug deal example above, it is clear the person facing drug charges did not have any intent to make a drug deal until an undercover police officer induced them into doing it.
It is important to remember that entrapment is a defense that can only be used at a jury trial, and it essentially validates the charges against the defendant. The defense is simply saying that someone planted and grew the intent for the defendant to commit the crime.
As with all complicated cases where there’s a lot on the line, you should have an attorney representing you. A good start is with a free initial legal consultation at Grieve Law.
7. It is “only a ticket”
Often, when the suspect is young or the charge is for a small, personal-use quantity of a lower-level drug like marijuana, the police may give the suspect a ticket for possession of a controlled substance or possession of paraphernalia. A ticket for such a charge may seem a minor infraction, but a paraphernalia ticket is not the same as a ticket for going 5 mph over the speed limit. You'll need an aggressive criminal defense attorney to learn how to get out of a drug paraphernalia charge.
A crime is any offense punishable by a term of confinement. In other words, if you are found guilty and can be sentenced to jail, it is a crime. A ticket, on the other hand, is only punishable by a fine or forfeiture—although you can be sentenced to jail if you fail to pay the fine and court costs. What is the difference between a ticket and a crime?
Should you be worried about “only a ticket”?
Absolutely, and young people especially should be concerned about having a ticket on their record. A ticket for drug possession can make you ineligible for student loans and is grounds for having a scholarship terminated. You can also have your driver’s license suspended or revoked.
Regardless of your age, the stigma of being ticketed for drug or narcotics possession will be with you forever. Does an OWI show up on a background check? Yes, Prospective employers and anyone else doing a background check on you will see you were ticketed for drug possession. Suddenly, you’re no longer eligible for employment in many fields. Worse yet, you can be terminated from a company with a zero-tolerance policy for drug possession charges.
Unless you look forward to answering questions about a drug charge for the rest of your life, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced criminal defense firm. A good attorney can often get drug charges reduced, or even dismissed. Get in touch with Grieve Law today to set up a free initial consultation on your case.
Contact the Milwaukee drug defense attorney for a consultation today.
Wisconsin Drug Charges and Your Record
Our Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys provide legal defense for everything from first offense drug possession to felony drug charges. When it comes to drug charges in Wisconsin you can’t afford to compromise on other lawyers; you need the very best criminal defense lawyers in Milwaukee. No matter your budget, we offer reasonable rates and work with you to set up flexible payment plans. The Grieve Law Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers know prosecuting attorneys bring the harshest penalties for drug charges in Wisconsin, especially against the second, third and repeat offenders. Whether facing state or federal drug charges in Wisconsin you need the best drug lawyer Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin has to offer - from New Berlin drug charges and Menomonee Falls defense strategies.
Drug Charges in Wisconsin: State and Municipal
Depending on the circumstances of your case, municipal and state drug charges under Wisconsin drug laws can be extremely severe, especially for those with prior convictions including drugs and Wisconsin firearm charges.
Contact our Milwaukee drug defense lawyers now to set up your free legal advice consultation and get the best possible defenses for Wisconsin drug charges.
How to beat a drug charge in Wisconsin
In many cases, our Milwaukee lawyers can prove:
- No probable cause for a search and seizure
- No search warrant existed
- The search and seizure was improperly conducted
- Evidence was compromised
- Fourth Amendment violations regarding surveillance or wire-tapping
- Insufficient proof of identity
What to do when the officer lied in Milwaukee, WI.
Many people charged with drug crimes in Wisconsin believe their rights have been violated by police entrapment. Winning on an entrapment claim is a rarity, but it does happen. It is more likely that there are other factors which contribute to getting drug charges reduced or DROPPED. Contact Grieve Law to learn more about how to get a possession charge dismissed in Wisconsin.