This week's election saw the passage of drug decriminalization measures in three states. Voters in those states elected to legalize recreational and/or medicinal marijuana, which suggests the country is turning a corner when it comes to drug tolerance. But here in Wisconsin, state officials are still determined to prosecute those involved in the illegal drug trade, and federal laws against drug use, possession and distribution haven't gotten any less stringent.
Two Wisconsin men who are accused of causing a woman's fatal drug overdose could be hit with much larger penalties if they're convicted of the federal charges recently filed against them. They were originally arrested in August on state charges of first-degree reckless homicide, but a federal indictment filed in Milwaukee this week led to the dismissal of the state charges. The federal charges mean that both men could go to prison for at least 20 years, the minimum sentence under federal guidelines.
According to a criminal complaint, the victim in this case was found outside a home in Redgranite, Wisconsin. An autopsy revealed that she died of a heroin overdose. The men are accused of supplying her with the heroin. There's no indication that she used the drugs involuntarily or against her wishes, but federal prosecutors are intent on putting the blame squarely on the woman's suppliers.
The men are just two of a group of suspects alleged to be involved in a drug ring, but the others have been hit with less serious charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance with death as a result. The two men were also charged with that offense.
No hearings have been scheduled yet, so it's hard to know how much time the two homicide suspects have to prepare their defense. But they would be best served by an attorney with an intimate knowledge of federal court proceedings and experience in defending serious drug-related crimes.
Source: Fox 11, "Feds take over Henschel death case," Nov. 8, 2012
•· Our firm handles a large number of drug crimes at both the state and federal level. To learn more about our practice, visit our Milwaukee drug crimes page.