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The problem with low-level offence drug crimes

Wisconsin residents likely know that criminalizing the possession of personal amounts of drugs can lead to devastating harm. A report released by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union on Oct. 12 found that approximately 1.25 million are taken into custody every year, half of which are for marijuana-related crimes alone.

The report revealed that, in 2015, more people were taken into police custody for charges related to personal marijuana use than for a combination of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter. Regardless of the number of arrests, rates of drug use do not appear to be decreasing. As such, it was recommended that policymakers look at increasing education, prevention and the reduction of harm caused by drugs versus enforcement small offences.

Not only are the number of arrests surprising, but the number of deaths that occur in jail are even more so. Dozens of individuals who were charged with low-level drug offenses die while in prison every single year, including those who cannot afford bail bonds. Further, it has been found that some law enforcement officers have resorted to using threats, intimidation and questionable search and seizure techniques to take someone into custody.

People who are facing drug charges associated with a low-level drug crime could face incarceration and expensive fines if a conviction is obtained. A criminal defense attorney may go over the case to find evidence that the law enforcement agencies did not follow proper procedures when the search that led to the seizure was being conducted, and if successful it could result in a dismissal of the charges.

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