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Bucher Law Group, LLC

Addressing the heroin epidemic in Wisconsin

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Bucher Law Group, LLC - Blog Post

The heroin epidemic in Wisconsin is so bad that at the beginning of this year, Governor Scott Walker called on the government to take action. He called a special legislative session and noted that the heroin problem here is one that has to be attacked head-on.

One of the points that the governor called on the legislature to enact is a bill that would enable the legal system to forcibly commit a person into rehabilitation so they can get the help they need. Even though this seems like a good thing, it might be nothing more than a waste of taxpayer funds since most addicts won't get clean even with rehab until they are ready to get off the drugs.

Current legal consequences

Currently, all charges related to heroin are felony charges. Possession of heroin is a Class I felony. Selling heroin ranges from a Class F in the lower amounts up to a Class C in higher amounts. Enhanced charges are possible in cases that involve minors, which come with double the normal penalties, and selling heroin within 1,000 feet of a school, which has a mandatory minimum prison term of three years without the possibility of parole.

Some leeway exists for sentences

Just like with other crimes, some defendants who are facing heroin-related charges might be able to seek out a plea deal. This might enable them to get the help that they need while not having to deal with being placed in prison or having to figure out how to pay astronomical fines. Of course, these situations rely on the prosecution's willingness to work out a deal and the defendant's ability to stick to the plea deal terms.

Drug court is sometimes possible

Some courts in Wisconsin have implemented drug courts, which help people convicted of non-violent drug crimes to get the help they need through the court system. Individuals who are in this program are held accountable by the court through drug testing and other program requirements. They are able to get the rehab and support they need to learn how to live a clean and sober life.

For the men and women who are facing this harrowing addiction, simply telling them to get clean and locking them in prison isn't going to help. The underlying problems are still going to be there. By addressing this problem, the state might be able to help prevent a public health crisis and improve the economy since it won't be weighed down by the cost of addiction and overdoses.

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