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It's hard to imagine, but even the most seemingly innocuous items could lead to a federal drug paraphernalia charge if police find you in possession of them at the time of a drug-related arrest. For example, a box of small plastic baggies would be perfectly innocent in any other context, but if police find you in possession of a large bag of cocaine, they may assume that you're going to use the baggies to traffic and sell the drug.

Let's take a look at what constitutes a federal drug paraphernalia crime under the law:

-- Offering to sell or selling any kind of drug paraphernalia.

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Depending on who you ask, the so-called war on drugs has been either ineffective or a complete disaster. Indeed, attitudes about drugs seem to be changing in the country with medical marijuana becoming the norm and recreational pot find support in several states. However, drug possession charges can be complicated in that they can be governed and prosecuted at both the state and the federal level. Laws and the ways they're enforced can vary from one state to another also, which makes defending yourself against charges even more confusing.

To boil it down to its most basic part, a drug possession charge must have two elements: the person had to know that the substance was controlled and had to knowingly possess it. The law generally divides possession into two types: possession for personal use and possession with the intent to distribute. It's an important distinction because the penalties can be at opposite ends of the spectrum. Simple possession could mean a fine whereas possession with intent could land you in prison for a long time.

Most states also differentiate between drugs in terms of severity. For instance, marijuana is generally treated as a minor offense compared to heroin or crack cocaine. Understanding all these nuances and knowing how to organize them is the key to mounting a defense.

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If you have been struggling with addiction, you likely want to get out of the vicious cycle that is plaguing your life. And your family and friends may be imploring you to get help as well. But sometimes it takes a real wake-up call to motivate an addict to get the help that he or she needs. And certainly, being arrested on drug charges can be a real wake-up call that tells you it is time to make drastic changes.

So, if you have come to the realization that you need treatment to pull your life back together, you may want to do some research regarding your possible options. The following are some of the primary types of addiction treatments:

  • Short-term residential treatment, which is typically brief but intensive and takes a 12-step based approach.
  • Long-term residential treatment, which is 24-hour-a-day care at a non-hospital facility.
  • Group counseling, which provides the opportunity for those struggling with substance abuse to discuss their problems and offer support to one another.
  • Individualized drug counseling, which allows individuals to focus not only their addiction issues, but also real-life issues such as employment and personal relationships.

Seeking treatment is a positive step that could lead to a complete turnabout in your personal well-being. And if you have been charged with possession of an illegal drug, you may want to consider asking the judge to allow you to enter treatment in lieu of being incarcerated. And an experienced criminal attorney can help you by preparing a defense that includes demonstrating that you are a strong candidate for successful treatment.

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.

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Drug possession charges are difficult to deal with and might lead to severe punishment if you are found guilty. It is important to have the right defense strategy to help you overcome the charges. Attorneys use different defense mechanisms when defending their clients against possession charges.

The basic strategy used by most attorneys is to put the onus on the prosecution to bring forward proof. The prosecution must establish beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant was in possession of an illegal substance. The defense may argue that the law enforcement agencies did not follow the due process of law. In case the search and seizure warrant was not carried out in a lawful manner, the defense might ask for the case to be dismissed. To recover drugs from concealed locations, law enforcement officers must ask for the owner's permission, or have a search warrant. Drugs placed in plain sight can be seized without permission of the owner. The defense may also argue that the defendant had no prior knowledge of the presence of the drugs that were discovered.

The chain of custody plays a vital role in the outcome of drug possession cases. Defense attorneys may question the chain of custody of evidence and scrutinize it in court. The drugs found on the defendant are usually transferred from one person to another before entering the evidence room. Even slight mishandling of the substance could lead to the case being dismissed. States that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes require the defendant to bring forward evidence of medical necessity.

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