If you are facing charges of drug possession in Wisconsin, penalties vary significantly depending on the factors in your case. The type of substance, the amount and any prior criminal history all play a role in sentencing.

Knowing the potential consequences of a conviction can help you prepare for your court date.

Actual and constructive possession

You do not have to carry an illegal substance in your pocket or on your person to receive a possession charge. An arrest for actual possession occurs when you are actually holding the drugs in question. Constructive possession occurs when you distributed, stored or used the drug in question, even if it was not on you at the time of arrest.

Categorization of controlled substances

Like most states, Wisconsin bases its drug laws on five schedules of substances depending on whether they have potential for abuse and/or accepted medical use. The state places the most dangerous drugs, including PCP, LSD, heroin and cannabis, in Schedule I. The next category, Schedule II, includes opium, codeine, cocaine, morphine, amphetamines, methamphetamine and methadone. Other substances fall into Schedule III, IV or V and result in less severe penalties for possession.

Penalties for drug convictions

Schedule I drug possession carries up to $5,000 in fines and a year in jail for the first offense, and fines of up to $10,000 and up to 3.5 years in jail for the second offense, which constitutes a Class I felony. The court does make an exception for a first offense involving cannabis, which results in up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail.

If the arresting officer did not follow proper procedures, your case could receive dismissal. Conversely, extenuating circumstances such as using a child younger than 17 to manufacture or distribute drugs can result in a much harsher sentence. In addition, for all convictions under the state’s Controlled Substances Act, you will receive a license suspension for at least six months and up to five years.