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Drug Offenses in Wisconsin: Understanding the Sentencing Process

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin drug lawsThe sentencing phase takes place after you are convicted of a crime. This phase occurs immediately after you enter a guilty plea, or as a result of a jury or bench trial verdict. Depending on the seriousness of the crime you were charged with, the judge determines the appropriate punishment. Many states, including Wisconsin, group crimes into three categories: (1) felony; (2) misdemeanor; and (3) petty offenses. Felonies are the most serious crimes, while petty offenses are the least serious. However, drug offenses are usually classified as misdemeanors or felonies.

The sentence the judge hands you will depend on:
  • The type of substance you were in possession of when committing the crime;
  • The amount of the substance; and
  • Your prior history of drug offenses.

Drug Crimes Penalties in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law divides the types of substances into Schedules I through V. Schedule I substances have a high risk of dependency and no legitimate medical use, while Schedule V drugs are common prescription medications and have many medical uses. Schedule I drugs carry much more serious penalties than Schedule V drugs.

Drug offenses are further broken down in categories of possession, distribution/sale/delivery, cultivation or paraphernalia. Possession and paraphernalia charges have some of the lightest penalties, while distribution and cultivation carry serious fines.

Possession of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and LSD is classified as a misdemeanor for first-time offenders, even though they rank high in Schedule I and II. If you are charged with subsequent drug offenses with the same or different types of drugs, the fines and prison sentences increase, as the charges will be classified as different types of felonies, which carry fines up to $25,000 and up to 15 years in prison.

Sentencing Options

If you are a first-time offender, depending on the circumstances in your case, you could be eligible for a conditional discharge, which means that if you successfully complete a period of probation, usually for a term of three to six months, the charges will be dismissed. Sometimes, these short probationary periods require drug testing, drug treatment programs, etc. Supervision is also an option if your criminal history is minimal. But, if you are a repeat offender, you will be facing steep fines and probation or a lengthy prison term.

Mitigating or Aggravating Circumstances

The sentencing phase allows the defense attorney, prosecutor and probation officer to provide the court with information about you. While making its decision, the court takes many factors into account. These factors include your prior criminal record, employment history, psychological history, family history and the circumstances surrounding your specific case. If you used a deadly weapon when you committed the crime, it will be looked at as an aggravating factor. But, if you have no criminal history or you were an accessory, then these are considered mitigating circumstances.

Consult An Attorney

As you can see, drug charges and convictions carry steep penalties that can negatively and permanently change your life. Some charges have mandatory minimums, while other charges do not. If you are facing drug charges, you should contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who will evaluate your case, determine which state and federal laws apply, provide you with options, and advise you on the best course of action.
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