Regardless of your feelings about the status of America's war on drugs, police in Wisconsin and across the country are still in heavy battle. Getting drugs off the streets and arresting people who use, possess or distribute them remains a high priority for law enforcement, and the penalties for drug convictions are very serious.
The consequences of being arrested and convicted of a drug crime are especially troubling for people in their teens and early 20s, who may not have finished school or started a career. Although a prison sentence is bound to be educational, it's a very poor substitute for college.
An Oak Creek, Wisconsin, teenager's future hangs in the balance as he awaits his court date this week to face charges of drug possession with intent to deliver. The 17-year-old boy was arrested in early June in South Milwaukee just after a drug buy, according to police.
The arrest happened as an officer was conducting surveillance in a high drug traffic area. According to the criminal complaint he filed, the officer watched as the teen drove up to a house and his passenger got out and went inside. After a short time, the passenger came back outside, stepped back into the car and the two stayed parked outside the house. The officer, reasoning that their behavior suggested they were using drugs after purchasing them, approached the car and had both occupants step outside the car.
The officer then searched the car and found 11.6 grams of marijuana, as well as empty plastic bags and a list of names and phone numbers, according to the complaint. The officer suspected that the extra items were used to sell drugs, and the 17-year-old boy allegedly admitted that all of the drugs in the car were his. He also admitted to smoking and selling drugs, the complaint said.
A conviction for the young man could result in a 3.5-year prison sentence, which would put his life on hold at a time when his peers are graduating from high school and attending college.
The teen might have had more legal options if he hadn't confessed to smoking and selling drugs at the time of his arrest and instead contacted a criminal defense attorney immediately. It's something worth considering for people of any age who find themselves under arrest on drug charges.
Source: Oak Creek Patch, "Oak Creek Teen Faces Felony Drug Charge," Joe Petrie, July 12, 2012
· Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Milwaukee drug crimes page.