Drug charges are filed more often than most people think, and sometimes the allegations are not merited. However, if a person is convicted on drug charges in Wisconsin, the penalties can be severe. But being charged with a drug crime does not automatically lead to a conviction. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, and the arrest conducted by police officers has to adhere to certain guidelines, including laws related to search and seizure.
These issues are likely on the mind of a 24-year-old man from Waukesha who was recently charged with one count of felony drug possession in Milwaukee.
The criminal complaint filed against him says that officers were patrolling on their bicycles when they saw the young man sitting in his car in a gas station parking lot. The cops claim he had bag of marijuana in his hand. He apparently got out of the car, and the police say they observed him looking into a duffel bag. One officer claims he then saw the suspect place a plastic baggie under his wallet, which was on the seat of the car at the time. A search ensued, and the police apparently found two bindles of heroin inside the baggie.
The point of view from the officers who observed these alleged activities was not made clear in a local news report. Were the cops staked out in the parking lot? How could they see inside the car? In any case, whether or not the officers had probable cause to search the young man is surely a question worth asking in his defense.
If convicted, he could be fined up to $10,000 and spend up to 3.5 years in prison. A close analysis of the circumstances of his arrest may be necessary to protect this Waukesha man's freedom.
Source: Waukesha Patch, "Waukesha man caught in Milwaukee with heroin," Joe Petrie, May 21, 2012