Drug crimes are taken very seriously by prosecutors despite society growing tired of the government’s war on crime. A national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 67% of Americans say that the government should focus more on providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Just 26% think the government’s focus should be on prosecuting users of such hard drugs. Support for a treatment-based approach to illegal drug use spans nearly all demographic groups. And while Republicans are less supportive of the treatment option than are Democrats or independents, about half of Republicans (51%) say the government should focus more on treatment than prosecution in dealing with illegal drug users.
Prosecuting attorneys aggressively charge people facing drug cases, including situations when a defendant may have had only a small trace amount of marijuana. This is true despite a recent statewide poll by the Marquette University Law School showing that roughly half of Wisconsin’s registered voters support full legalization of the drug. Specifically, 49.7 percent supported legalization, 44.9 percent opposed and 4.7 percent didn’t know.
Prosecutors often seek the most severe penalties possible in these cases and are reluctant to negotiate with defendants. If you are charged with a drug crime in Wisconsin, therefore, you should not hesitate to contact the experienced drug defense lawyer Spiro Nicolet at Nicolet Lawyers. We can explain your options and advise you on how to protect your rights as a criminal defendant. If we represent you, we will spare no energy in casting doubt on any vulnerable areas of the prosecution’s case.
Importantly, however, African Americans and whites use illegal drugs at approximately the same rates, yet both arrest and sentencing tends to be stricter for African Americans, according to a study conducted by the Justice Policy Institute. Black people are 10 times more likely to be imprisoned for drug offenses than white people in the United States. The institute said that selective policing is partly to blame for the disparity, with police departments devoting more resources to arresting purchasers and buyers in inner-city, open-air markets rather than in the suburbs, and college campuses where fewer blacks live. In addition, research has found that probation officers tend to be more sympathetic to white offenders than to black offenders. Officers have been found to be more likely to attribute white people's crimes to their circumstances, and black people's to moral failingsCommon Drug Charges and Punishments
Crimes involving controlled substances most often involve possession, possession with intent to sell, and selling. While some first offenses are classified as misdemeanors, many drug crimes are charged as serious felony offenses. Any second offense involving drugs will be classified as a felony, even if it would have been a misdemeanor as a first offense.
Both state and federal law classify controlled substances into one of five schedules. Schedule I drugs are those considered highly addictive and have no currently accepted medical use; Schedule I drugs include as heroin, LSD, and PCP. Schedule II drugs have high potential for abuse and do have medical uses; these include opium, codeine, morphine, cocaine, methadone, and amphetamines. Schedule III, IV and V substances include drugs with lower potential for abuse and for which there is a currently accepted medical use.
Drug crimes carry especially significant consequences because they can result in charges at both state and federal levels. This means that someone can be sentenced to separate penalties for the same offense. While some sentences are served concurrently, others are served sequentially so that one sentence starts after the previous sentence ends.
Moreover, the penalties faced by drug offense defendants in Wisconsin are very severe. Sadly, three out of four (77.5%) drug offenders sent to prison have never been convicted of a violent felony and one in three (31.8%) has no prior felony convictions for any crime. These penalties will vary according to the specific variety of drug and how much of the drug was involved in the offense. State and federal laws assign harsher punishments to individuals convicted of crimes related to controlled substances that are believed to have a highly addictive effect. When large amounts of a drug are tied to a person, a longer prison sentence likely will be imposed.
Defendants who are repeat offenders, also known as habitual offenders, may have their prison sentences extended for up to two years if they were previously convicted of a misdemeanor. A previous conviction of a felony can extend a sentence for up to six years, illustrating how severe the consequences can be.
Beyond the specific criminal penalties that defendants face, broader consequences can unfold from a drug conviction. This will appear on a defendant’s criminal record if convicted, and it may adversely affect efforts to obtain employment, housing and getting a student loan.
Thus, it is especially important to fight these charges in any way possible. It is also essential not to fight them alone.Protecting the Rights of People Charged With Drug Offenses
There are many potential arguments that a drug defense lawyer can explore. For example, the evidence on which the prosecution relies may have been seized in an illegal search, executed without a warrant or other valid justification. If this argument can be made, you will need an experienced attorney on your side to challenge the illegally seized evidence when the prosecution tries to present it. In another example, a police informant may have made a mistake about the identity of the person possessing the controlled substances at issue. At Nicolet Lawyers, our dedicated drug crimes lawyers are ready to investigate the details of your case and tenaciously defend your rights if we represent you. Call Spiro at (773) 562-6884, or complete our online form to set up an initial consultation with us.