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teen drug use in wisconsin, Milwaukee criminal defense lawyerA recent study shows that the use of many illegal substances is down among U.S. teens. The only substance that did not see a decline in usage was marijuana, which remained stable. Conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the results are based on the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of teenagers in the eighth, tenth and twelfth grades. Public health officials are encouraged by the findings and believe that consistent and fact-based public service campaigns have contributed to the declining numbers.

Alcohol and Cigarette Use Declines

The number of teens who reported that they have “been drunk” in the past year are at the lowest point ever in the MTF survey’s history.  In 2016, 37.3 percent of high school seniors reported in the survey as being drunk at least once. This number peaked in 2001, when 53.2 percent of seniors reported that they had been drunk at least once in the previous year.

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Wisconsin drug laws, Wisconsin defense attorneyRecently, the Daily Tribune reported that heroin use in small communities throughout Wisconsin is on the rise. When paired with the severity of the state’s penalties for drug crimes and the already strained prison budget, this influx is grounds for concern. But there are none that may suffer more than those that use and may eventually be charged with a drug crime.  

Heroin and Addiction

Considered a highly addictive substance, heroin is an illicit drug processed from the opiate morphine. Those who use are at an increased risk for severe health complications, including overdoses, heart problems, skin infections or abscesses, and diseased organs. Unfortunately, once the addiction takes hold, many would rather face the risk of a complication than endure the intense withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, this may mean obtaining the drugs by any means necessary, which can further add to their already hefty drug penalties.

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Objective ReasonablenessWhen you are about to be pulled over by law enforcement officers, you presume the officers pulling you over know the law, since they are charged with enforcing it. Usually, law enforcement officers are aware of the laws they are enforcing. Sometimes, however, law enforcement officers stop you based on their mistaken belief of the law — specifically, on an incorrect understanding of the law.

When a law enforcement officer has a mistaken understanding of the law, and this officer performs a traffic stop based on this mistake, the reasonableness of officer’s conduct will be evaluated by the trial court. The objective reasonableness test is applied in traffic cases because the Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. As you can presume, law enforcement officers are required to make split-second judgments in many tense and unknown circumstances. The objective reasonableness test looks at a few factors, and the actions are:
  1. Judged through the perspective of a reasonable officer;
  2. With similar training and experiences;
  3. Facing similar circumstances;
  4. Acting the same way; and
  5. Based on the totality of the circumstances at the time of the arrest.

The Supreme Court’s Perspective on Objective Reasonableness

In December 2014, the United States Supreme Court in Heien v. North Carolina indicated that when a law enforcement officer

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, arraignmentMany states, including Wisconsin, require preliminary hearings to be held when you are facing felony charges and plead not guilty at arraignment, also known as the “initial appearance.” Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may decide to waive the preliminary hearing, give up your right to have one and proceed to trial. However, there are many circumstances where having a preliminary hearing will benefit you.

A preliminary hearing is held to determine whether probable cause exists to bind you over for trial. Probable cause is a standard of proof and merely requires the prosecution to provide enough evidence tending to show: (1) that a felony was probably committed in the state of Wisconsin; and (2) that you were the individual that probably committed the felony. In order to show that the prosecution met its standard of proof, the police officer(s) who arrested you will be required to testify.

The preliminary hearing is the best way to get an idea of what the prosecution’s theory is and also allows you to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence. Under Wisconsin law, most drug crimes are considered felony offenses. Depending on the type of drug involved in your charges, you could be incarcerated for up to 40 years. The preliminary hearing is a critical stage, and depending on the circumstances of your case, you might be able to suppress evidence that will not be permitted at trial.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, drug distributionThroughout the United States, each state has enacted laws that make it unlawful to possess, distribute or manufacture illegal drugs. These substances include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and various other drugs. Also, an individual could be charged with drug distribution if he or she is engaged in the illegal distribution of prescription drugs, the most common being painkillers or sleeping pills. The punishment for possession is much more lenient than that of distribution or manufacturing. These punishments depend on a variety of factors, such as the type and amount of drug, geographic area and groups targeted for the distribution of illegal drugs. The terms of punishment can range from a couple of years in prison to life imprisonment. Possession of a small amount of a drug, such as marijuana, is usually only a misdemeanor. However, charges related to drug trafficking, distribution and manufacturing are commonly considered felonies and lead to more serious fines and prison time. If you are found in possession of a substantial amount of drugs, there is a possibility you could be charged with intent to distribute if the police believe you were in a position to sell them to other people. This is also true if you are found with a limited amount of drugs and a significant amount of cash. If you are facing charges related to drug trafficking, it is important to remember that state and federal laws almost always come into play. Most state laws are modeled after federal laws and there are mandatory minimum punishments depending on the type and amount of drug involved. Although lawmakers passed these harsh laws to deter major drug distributors, petty drug dealers are too often the ones to be prosecuted. Drug-Related Arrests in Wisconsin According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, there were a total of 340,893 arrests across the state in 2012 (See “Arrests in Wisconsin 2012”). Drug arrests accounted for 27,345, and 83 percent of these arrests were related to possession charges. A first-time offense related to the possession of marijuana carries a $1,000 fine and possibility of six months in prison. A list of substances regulated by the state of Wisconsin can be found here and felony classifications can be found here. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the state or federal prosecutor can determine whether or not you had the intent to sell or manufacture illegal drugs. The typical indicators are amount of drug, type of drug, geographical location, and presence of distribution paraphernalia (baggies, scales, etc). Let Our Attorneys Defend You in Your Case The possible punishments, regardless of the drug trafficking charges, are far too serious to consider taking care of on your own. You should contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges every step of the way.

 

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