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Drug Crimes Involving Minors

In Wisconsin, drug crimes are taken very seriously. This is especially true when the alleged offense was committed in the presence or with the assistance of a minor. If you were charged for a drug crime involving a child, you could be facing more severe penalties had the minor not been involved.

Wisconsin has several different laws concerning drug crimes and minors:

Using a Minor to Manufacture or Distribute Drugs

Under Wis. Stat. § 961.455, it's illegal to use a child to manufacture or distribute controlled substances. This offense is a Class F felony, which means if you're convicted, you could be sentenced to up to 12 years, 6 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

You can be charged with this crime whether or not you knew the person was under 17 years of age. Additionally, it's not a defense to say that you had a reasonable belief that the individual was an adult.

What's more, the State can prosecute you for both this offense and any underlying violation of a law banning the manufacture, distribution, or delivery of a drug. That means if you used a child to distribute a Schedule I narcotic drug, which is a Class E felony, you could be penalized for both that offense and the offense involving the minor.

Giving Drugs to a Minor

Wisconsin's law also provides that not only is it illegal to use a child for drug manufacture or distribution, it's also unlawful for an adult to give drugs to a person under 17 years of age. If you do so, depending on your circumstances, the maximum term of imprisonment for the underlying offense can be increased by 5 years or doubled. For instance, suppose you were charged with distributing more than 40 grams of cocaine. This is a Class C felony, which carries with it up to 40 years in prison. However, let's say that the person you supplied with drugs was under 17 years of age. Now you're looking at a maximum term of imprisonment of 45 years.

Distributing Drug Paraphernalia to a Minor

It might be understandable that giving drugs to a minor or having them be involved in making or distributing controlled substances is illegal. The child is directly exposed to the drugs. However, some people might not be aware that even giving a person under 17 years of age instruments to make, cultivate, test, or distribute drugs is also unlawful.

Wis. Stat. § 961.575 prohibits people from delivering drug paraphernalia to a minor. If you are found guilty of this offense, you could be sent to jail for a maximum of 9 months and fined up to $10,000. The penalties become more severe when the instruments were for an offense involving methamphetamine. This crime is charged as a Class G felony. If you're convicted, you could be sent to prison for 10 years and/or ordered to pay a fine of up to $25,000.

Using Drug Paraphernalia Around a Minor

What about a situation where you had drug paraphernalia to make or distribute methamphetamine but didn't give it to a minor? Is that still an offense? Wisconsin law says it is. According to Wis. Stat. § 961.573(3)(b)2, if you have drug paraphernalia in the presence of a person under 14 years of age, you could be charged with a Class G felony. A conviction for which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

If you're facing drug charges in Milwaukee, reach out to the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella by calling us at (414) 882-8382 or contacting us online to discuss your case during a free consultation.