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Marathon traffic stop leads to drug arrests

On Sept. 11, the Marathon County Sheriff's Department made a traffic stop on I-39 near Nolton that ended with three people being taken into custody; sheriffs had originally pulled over the vehicle for a speeding violation. The 50-year-old driver of the vehicle was placed under arrest for drug paraphernalia. A 31-year-old passenger was arrested for drug possession with intent to deliver. A third passenger from Wausau was also detained, but it was not announced whether any charges would be filed against the 27-year-old Wisconsin resident.

The sheriff's department reported that it had seized 16 grams of heroin and 55 grams of crack and powder cocaine. A police department canine first notified the officers of the scent of drugs. Sheriffs say they found the drugs while performing a thorough search of the passengers, which included a body cavity search.

Possession of 16 grams of heroin with intent to deliver is a Class D felony in Wisconsin; anyone convicted of a Class D felony may receive a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Possession of cocaine with intent to deliver is a Class E felony, which can be punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Given the high stakes of a drug conviction, a criminal defense attorney may challenge whether a sheriff's department had the authority to conduct a body search of an accused person. If the evidence being used against the accused was obtained through an illegal search and seizure, a defense attorney may move for the court to suppress the evidence, resulting in possible reduced charges or penalties.

Source: Wisconsin Legislative Council Legal Memorandum, "Drug Laws in Wisconsin." Wisconsin Statutes, "939.50 Classification of felonies."

Source: WAOW, "Marathon County drug arrests", September 12, 2013

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