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What to do if you're charged with marijuana possession

Laws prohibiting the possession, sale and cultivation of marijuana have been repealed or changed in many states. This leads people to falsely believe that marijuana offenses are no longer a big deal. After all, it's legal in a half dozen states and decriminalized in a few others. However, law enforcement in the Waukesha area still take marijuana offenses very seriously. If you or someone you love has been charged with marijuana possession, it's critical that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to minimize the impact of these charges.

Marijuana possession charges have real consequences

Getting caught with any amount of marijuana in Wisconsin won't result in a slap on the wrist. In fact, even first time offenders caught with a tiny amount for personal use still face six months of incarceration and $1,000 in fines. The first marijuana offense is a misdemeanor, but any subsequent offense will be charged as a felony.

Second or third time offenders charged with simple possession face three-and-a-half years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Getting caught with a pipe, bong or other smoking paraphernalia is a separate charge, yielding a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

A public defender isn't enough

Most people who are charged with what they perceive as a minor crime, like marijuana possession, mistakenly think that working with a public defender will be enough. Unfortunately, public defenders can have dozens of cases at a time, making their efforts cursory at best. An experienced criminal defense attorney that has successfully represented those accused of drug crimes is your best choice for mounting a rigorous defense against the prosecution's allegations.

Diversion to substance abuse treatment may be an option

Depending on the circumstances and your personal situation, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help in several ways. He or sh may be able to have certain evidence excluded from your trial, if your civil rights or evidentiary chains of command were violated during your arrest. Attorneys can also advocate on your behalf for diversion to substance abuse or community service programs in lieu of conviction and a criminal record that could haunt you for the rest of your life.

Fines, along with lost time from work and wages due to incarceration, can be financially devastating. Compound that with the impact of a criminal record on your ability to find housing, get student aid or obtain a job, and a marijuana possession charge can negatively impact your life for years. Don't risk your future! Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you've been arrested.

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