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When Drug Charges Become Felonies

There is a significant number of different drugs in the world, some of which we take at the suggestion of medical professionals to improve our quality of life or to fix an ailment. However, some drugs are illegal to possess and consume due to their negative effects on our behavior and/or our bodies.

Being caught with an illegal drug can have some devastating repercussions, but there are levels to the consequences one may face based on how the specific drug or drugs they possessed are classified under the law. Knowing how the possession of drugs might lead to a felony charge could mean the difference between a reasonable punishment and lifelong consequences.

Misdemeanor Drug Charges vs. Felony Drug Charges

Crimes can be classified in two different ways: felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are highly preferable in comparison to felony charges because they are associated with more lenient penalties such as short sentences in jail, probation, monetary fines, and doing community service. Felonies are the most serious crimes and come with much more severe sentencing, which amounts to much longer jail sentences and heftier fines.

How Drugs Are Classified

The federal government has broken down known drugs into categories known as “schedules.” The state of Wisconsin classifies drugs in the same way. Here are the drug schedules and how they break down:

  • Schedule I: These are drugs that have the most potential for addiction and abuse, are considered very dangerous, and have no known medical use (LSD and heroin, for example).
  • Schedule II: These drugs are also highly addictive and prone to abuse but are sometimes used medically (like methadone and fentanyl).
  • Schedule III: Schedule III drugs can still be addictive, but the potential for dependence is lower than Schedule II (ketamine and testosterone).
  • Schedule IV: These drugs have a low potential for addiction and are prescribed more frequently (Xanax and Ambien, for example).
  • Schedule V: These drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and have very small amounts of certain narcotics (Lyrica and Robitussin).

The classification of the drug you are caught with will be factored into how you are charged. For example, the possession of heroin in any amount is a Class I felony in Wisconsin, even if it’s your first offense.

How Much of the Drug and How Often You’re Caught

While the specific drug you are caught with is a big factor in determining what level of punishment you’ll receive, the amount of the drug you possess and whether it’s your first offense are also determining factors. For example, if you are found to be in possession of cocaine in Wisconsin, your first offense will come with a fine of up to $5,000 and no more than one year of imprisonment. However, if you are caught again, you will be charged with a Class I felony. In addition to actual possession being a crime, it’s criminal to even attempt to be in possession of cocaine. The severity of the punishment increases if you are caught a second time in the hopes of imparting a stronger lesson.

Can I Reduce My Felony Drug Charge?

Receiving a felony drug charge can be life-changing and the legal ramifications can be scary, but there are actions that can be taken and legal strategies that can be followed to lessen the severity of your charge. For example, your felony charge can be taken down to a misdemeanor charge if you choose to make a plea bargain, which would entail pleading guilty to a lesser charge and receiving a more forgiving sentence.

The actions of the arresting officer can also have an impact on the severity of your charge and subsequent sentencing. If it can be proven that the officer or a prosecutor engaged in misconduct or made a mistake at any point during the duration of your case, your felony charge could possibly be lowered or dropped altogether. This also applies if the officer or prosecutor was biased and targeted you because of your ethnicity or other identifying factors, if they provided false evidence, or withheld evidence proving your innocence.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you have received a felony or misdemeanor drug charge, contact the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella today. Attorney Cherella will work tirelessly to help you with your case in a compassionate and empathetic manner. With over 20 years of legal experience, he maintains a small client base in order to best serve each of his clients. Contact him at (414) 882-8382 today or via this link.