What Qualifies as Drug Paraphernalia?

If you were arrested for drug possession or possession of drug paraphernalia, you may feel hopeless and alone. But you don’t have to. The Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys of Hart Powell, S.C. are dedicated to supporting our clients during this difficult time. We represent our clients and protect their rights within the criminal justice system.

Our criminal defense lawyers are licensed to practice before multiple federal, state, and appellate courts. We do everything in our power to protect your rights, representing you aggressively and treating you with respect. We recognize that your freedom is at stake.

If you are facing drug paraphernalia or drug charges, you want an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows best how to protect your rights in the state of Wisconsin. In some cases, other charges may be added, including drug trafficking or distribution. Every charge comes with an additional penalty and may be used solely as a negotiating tactic by the prosecutor.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Is Illegal

Most people understand that possession of a controlled substance is illegal in the state of Wisconsin. These controlled substances can include marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, Rohypnol, ketamine, and cocaine. However, did you also know that simply carrying drug-related paraphernalia is also a crime?

According to the Wisconsin State Legislature, drug paraphernalia is any item that may be used in the growth, production, manufacture, or use of a controlled substance. A conviction of possession of these items comes with imprisonment and a fine of not more than $500.

A police officer may offer to reduce your charges or drop them if you work as an informant for them. This can place you in a dangerous position. They may also inflate your charges, hoping you will not engage an experienced criminal defense attorney.

As long as the prosecution can prove you were planning to use the paraphernalia for its intended use, you can be convicted and go to jail. This can result in your driver’s license being suspended or revoked for up to five years.

The police do not have to find the paraphernalia on your person for it to be in your possession. If it is in your home or car, you are in possession of an illegal object. You can be arrested and charged, even if the object was brought to your home by a friend.

A drug arrest or charge of illegal drug paraphernalia can impact your employment and employment prospects. Employers can access public records through the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website. Before searching the records, employers are notified that discrimination against an applicant because of an arrest or conviction is a violation of state law.

However, while this is the letter of the law, employers may use the information to filter through a list of applicants. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done when big companies or small businesses use a criminal record to filter applicants, save time, and reduce their risk.

Types of Drug Paraphernalia

Wisconsin law identifies drug paraphernalia as objects that are used with the primary intent to:

  • Plant
  • Propagate
  • Cultivate
  • Grow
  • Harvest
  • Manufacture
  • Compound
  • Convert
  • Produce
  • Process
  • Prepare
  • Test
  • Analyze
  • Pack
  • Repack
  • Store
  • Contain
  • Conceal
  • Inject
  • Ingest
  • Inhale

or otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the human body. If you’re found guilty, the charge will be a Class H felony. This raises to a Class E felony if a person over the age of 18 violates the law in the presence of a child who is 14 years or younger.

The list items that are considered drug paraphernalia for individual users can include:

  • Apple pipe
  • Burned spoons
  • Bongs
  • Mirrors
  • Modified cans or bottles
  • Wood or metal pipes
  • Plastic baggies
  • Rolling papers
  • Scales
  • Syringe
  • Aluminum foil
  • Marijuana vaping device

What to Do If You Are Arrested with Drug Paraphernalia

Although Wisconsin lawmakers are discussing legalizing marijuana in the state, it continues to be illegal to be in possession of recreational marijuana or other controlled substances. Possession and use of an illegal drug carries charges and penalties that can vary depending on the amount of drug and what is in your possession. If you are convicted, your sentence can also depend on your criminal history and other convictions that may have been handed down at the same time.

If you are arrested on a drug paraphernalia charge, it is crucial that you have an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense attorney to represent and protect your rights. The attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. have decades of experience in criminal law.

Each of the lawyers on our legal team is dedicated to aggressively and tenaciously representing you. It’s our goal to help make sure that your arrest does not define your future. You might be concerned that hiring a lawyer immediately after an accusation may make you look guilty. However, without legal representation, you may inadvertently say something that negatively affects your case.

Get Help Today

Call our compassionate and experienced legal team today at (414) 271-9595 to schedule your confidential consultation. We’ll review the facts in your case and advise you on your next best steps.


Can I Get a Felony Expunged?

A criminal conviction can have a significant impact on your life. There are professional and personal consequences after you’re found guilty of a criminal act. You may face jail time or fines and will have the crime on your permanent public record.

So, long after your jail time is served, the criminal conviction can factor into your professional opportunities. For example, even a minor offense can affect a nursing license, pilot’s license, security clearances, your ability to keep your current job, and your right to own a firearm.

Criminal charges and convictions can also affect your child custody rights and increase your risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. Discrimination may affect your reputation and your ability to get a new job. Each of these is a good reason for seeking expungement of a felony conviction.

What Is a Felony?

If you’re charged with a crime, it may be a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor is a less serious crime with shorter jail sentences and fewer fines. For example, if your blood alcohol level is over the limit and you get pulled over for OWI, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if there are children in the car or your alcohol level is severely over the limit, you could face a felony charge.

Felony convictions usually result in a prison sentence of at least one year or longer. There is an element of violence, and the crimes tend to be considered harmful or dangerous. When serving your sentence, people with felony convictions are assigned to the state prison system rather than county jail.

There are nine classes of felonies in Wisconsin. They are labeled by letters from A to I and classified by the seriousness of the offense. For example, class A felonies are the most serious and have the most severe punishment, including life in prison.

Class H felonies in Wisconsin are punishable by up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 or both. Class H felonies can include your fourth charge of operating while intoxicated (OWI) or your second OWI charge while causing injury. Also included are false imprisonment, felony bail jumping, and aggravated battery with great bodily harm.

Class I felonies in Wisconsin are punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for both. Examples of a Class I felony include destruction of property worth more than $2,500, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, threatening stalking, aggravated battery causing substantial bodily harm, or arson of property other than a building.

What Is Expungement and Who Is Eligible?

Wisconsin law allows criminal records for an adult to be expunged in limited circumstances. This means that the record is either erased or sealed. If the court does expunge your record, any potential employer cannot consider that record even if it’s related to the job you’re applying for.

It is not uncommon for the court to issue expungement orders in juvenile court proceedings. This is not forgiveness (legal pardon) for committing the crime. Likewise, a pardon does not mean that the criminal record was expunged. Expungement proceedings happen in State courts and under state law.

The process is reserved for charges for which you were found guilty. However, if you were arrested and released without being charged, you may be able to have the arrest removed from your record.

Generally, the more serious the crime, the less likely it is that the court will expunge your record. Some factors will affect the Court’s consideration, including:

  • If you were a minor when the crime was committed
  • The time that’s passed since conviction or arrest
  • If you completed all court-ordered requirements

Those who are eligible to have their arrests or convictions expunged under Wisconsin law are people who have committed certain Class H or I felonies if they were under the age of 25 and after they completed their sentence. A juvenile may also make a request after they reach the age of 17.

However, while the court may expunge the record, there will continue to be a record of the conviction in the Wisconsin criminal history repository that may be found during a background check.

If you are arrested and fingerprinted, but later released without any charge or cleared of the offense, then Wisconsin law allows for removal of that fingerprint from the record.

What Can Be Expunged or Sealed in Wisconsin?

Under Wisconsin law, records are permitted to be expunged after a person was found guilty and when the sentence has been completed. Only misdemeanors and Class H or Class I felonies are permitted to be expunged. If you were convicted before July 1, 2009, the conviction can only be expunged if you were under 21 when you committed the offense, and then only if you were convicted of a misdemeanor.

Under the current law, expungement decisions must be made at the time of sentencing. This has been challenged and upheld in court. If your expungement is granted, the court records are destroyed.

If you were arrested, charged, and convicted of a misdemeanor or Class H or Class I felony, and would like to have your record expunged, contact the Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys of Hart Powell, S.C. at (414) 271-9595 today. You can also contact us using our online form to schedule a confidential consultation about your case.


How to Avoid a Marijuana Possession Charge

Marijuana doesn’t have the same stigma that it did decades ago. It’s used recreationally all across the world, including in some states in the U.S. However, in the U.S., marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the Controlled Substances Act. This means it’s not approved for medicinal use. Still, some states have either legalized marijuana use and possession, approved it for medicinal use, or reduced penalties for marijuana possession. In Wisconsin, marijuana possession, manufacturing, or distributing are all still illegal.

If you’ve been arrested or charged with marijuana possession, you have rights, and they should be protected. A marijuana possession charge can negatively impact your life. It can affect your employment prospects and damage your reputation. You need legal representation to help mitigate the potential consequences to your life and liberty. The attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. have successfully defended Wisconsin citizens against marijuana possession charges for decades. Call us at (414) 271-9595 today or complete our contact form online to schedule your consultation.

Consequences of a Marijuana Possession Charge in Wisconsin

There are several different penalties for drug possession in Wisconsin depending on the drug the accused possessed at the time of arrest and whether it was the accused’s first or second offense.

If you’ve been arrested for marijuana possession for the first time, it is a misdemeanor, and you may be fined up to $1,000 and/or could face imprisonment of up to 6 months. If this is your 2nd marijuana possession offense or if you’ve been convicted of any drug crime in any state in the U.S., it is a Class I felony. The penalties for a Class I felony are a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 3.5 years in prison.

Sometimes, marijuana possession charges are combined with other drug crimes. In Wisconsin, you can be charged with possession of either synthetic or natural marijuana with the intent to distribute, manufacture or deliver. This charge is either a Class E, Class F, Class G, Class H, or Class I felony. The amount in grams of marijuana found on your body or property determines which class felony the charge is. The penalties for this can range from a minimum of a $10,000 fine and/or 3.5 years of confinement to a maximum of a $50,000 fine and/or up to 15 years in prison.

The complexity of state and federal marijuana possession laws makes it harder for you to fight these charges alone. You need an attorney who understands the law to defend you.

How to Avoid Being Charged with Marijuana Possession

With more widespread societal acceptance of marijuana for medicinal use or for recreation and the legalization of marijuana in bordering states, it’s possible to catch a marijuana possession charge unintentionally. There are a few things to keep in mind to try to avoid falling victim to this a serious and consequential possession charge.

If you drive a vehicle and travel with others, take care that any passengers in your vehicle do not possess any marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia on their person. You could be charged with marijuana possession if the marijuana is found in a car that you are driving and/or that is registered to you. While a skilled attorney at Hart Powell, S.C. could potentially argue and prove that the marijuana was not yours, there’s no guarantee.

Additionally, just because another state has legalized marijuana, that doesn’t mean you can possess it outside of that state, particularly in Wisconsin. When a state has legalized marijuana, a person living in that state can still be charged with federal drug possession if, for example, they were found with marijuana at a national park or federal government property. Additionally, if you cross state lines to purchase marijuana in Illinois or Michigan — two states in which marijuana is legal — and bring it back to Wisconsin, you could still face a marijuana possession charge if you’re caught with the drug on your person or in your property.

Call Hart Powell, S.C. Right Away for Help

A marijuana possession charge is serious. It can stick to you and affect different areas of your life for a considerable time. You need a skilled attorney who understands the intricacies of Wisconsin’s drug laws, particularly as they pertain to marijuana, and has a proven track record of diligently fighting for the protection of their client’s rights.

The attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. have successfully helped their clients fight marijuana possession charges, and we can help you, too. Call us today at (414) 271-9595 to schedule a consultation. Let us review your case and advise you about your options.


How to Beat a DUI

We’ve all seen the commercials, the online ads, the digital signs floating above the highway reading: “Don’t drink and drive.” But sometimes, things happen.

If you’ve been arrested or charged with driving under the influence or operating while intoxicated (DUI/OWI), you need the help of an experienced attorney. Having a DUI/OWI on your record can have devastating consequences for your future. The attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. have experience in helping clients fight DUI/OWI charges. Call (414) 271-9595 today to schedule a consultation.

Consequences of a DUI/OWI Charge in Wisconsin

A driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence charge or arrest is a serious matter. The consequences of this charge can be cumbersome, expensive, and detrimental to both your quality of life and liberty. A DUI charge (called OWI in Wisconsin’s laws, but also called DWI) can damage your personal and professional reputation, your ability to obtain employment, and even your ability to drive if your license gets suspended. This type of charge can even, in specific instances, affect your ability to have custody or visitation with your child or children.

The consequences of a DUI have a cumulative effect. Some people may be charged once with a DUI and exercise extreme caution in order to prevent it from happening again. But because of the issue of addiction to alcohol and other substances, some people get multiple DUI charges. Since the risk of harm to others and damage to property is high, the law provides increasing penalties for those who are charged with multiple, successive DUIs.

In Wisconsin, there are varying penalties for OWI (or DUI/DWI) charges based on the accused’s history of OWI charges. Here are a few penalty guidelines for OWIs:

  • For a 1st offense, 2nd offense with no OWI charge in the previous ten years, and no history of an OWI charge causing bodily harm or death, the penalty is a fine of $585-$735 and license suspension for 6-9 months.
  • For a 2nd offense within ten years of the previous offense, penalties include five days to six months in jail, license revocation of 12-18 months, and fines of $350 to $1100. The fines can be increased, depending on the BAC of the driver. After 45 days, a hardship license can be issued, along with an ignition interlock device.
  • For a 3rd offense, the penalty is a fine of $1050-$2,435, 45 days to a year of confinement plus an additional 2-3 of license suspension, and be required to use an ignition interlocking device or participate in a sobriety program for 1-4 years.
  • A 10th OWI charge is a Class E felony, for which the fine may be up to $50,435 and 4-15 years in prison.

Because of the serious and life-altering consequences, you need an experienced attorney to help you fight your DUI charge. Hart Powell, S.C. is here to help.

How You Can Beat a DUI/OWI Charge

The attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. have successfully defended clients who have been charged with DUIs/OWIs. We will devise a legal strategy based on the facts of your individual case. We will conduct our own thorough investigation and examine the evidence and look for certain aspects of your case that may raise doubt as to the validity of your DUI charge and/or prove your innocence. These factors could include the following:

  • Accuracy of breath analyzers or blood results – Breath analyzers are used to determine your blood alcohol concentration level at the time of use. However, breath analyzers can be inaccurate. There can be issues with the machine and its calibration, the officer may have used it improperly when they tested you, or the machine could have detected other substances on your breath that have the same molecular structure as alcohol. Likewise, if the blood test was improperly handled or the results were contaminated, doubts can be raised about the test’s validity.
  • Timing – If there is any delay in the blood test being administered, it can raise questions as to the validity of the test. This is because your BAC could have risen from the time you were pulled over and when you took the test. A DUI is based on your BAC at the time you were driving.
  • Legality of the Stop – Law enforcement must follow the law when it comes to traffic stops. For example, if you were subjected to an illegal search and seizure when you were stopped for a DUI for marijuana or other controlled substances, we will fight to suppress any evidence found in that search. We will review the officer’s arrest report of the stop to find any holes or any evidence that the officer may have misstepped.

Call Hart Powell, S.C. Today

The Wisconsin DUI/OWI attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. are skilled and experienced in crafting strong defenses for DUI charges. We’ve worked for decades providing outstanding criminal defense for our clients. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you need an attorney that can fight for you. Call (414) 271-9595 to schedule a consultation or contact us online.