It is an unfortunate fact that not only Wisconsin, but the entire country, is facing an opioid crisis. When you hear the word "opioid", what do you think of? You probably think of heroin or, recently, fentanyl. But a lot of people don't realize that opioids actually include prescription pain pills that contain compounds such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, methadone and others. It's not uncommon for patients to store leftover pills in a medicine cabinet once they start to feel better. But rather than dispose of them properly, they keep the pills in their home. Unfortunately, keeping these drugs onhand opens them up to liabilities; there's a widespread epidemic of teens and others stealing leftover pills from family members and either using them or selling them to friends.
What are opioids?
Opioids are pain relief drugs that are either:
Although doctors won't prescribe you street heroin for your back pain, prescription opioids are made from the same chemical compounds because they are extremely effective at relieving moderate to severe pain. Many of these prescription drugs are dangerous because of their highly addictive nature and the fact that the users will feel a "high" similar to heroin, leading to increased chances of misuse; and much like heroin, overdoses are possible and common with prescription pain pills. Due to the "high" and addictive qualities of prescription drugs, it's not uncommon for patients to get hooked on them and eventually make the shift to street heroin -- it's cheaper and easier to get, after all.
Because of the similarities in terms of abuse and addiction between prescription drugs and heroin, law enforcement take prescription drug possession very seriously. Having prescription opioids but no prescription is a very serious offense and will result in severe punishment.
What are the penalties for prescription opioid possession in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, unlawful opioid possession isn't taken lightly. Drugs such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), codeine, morphine (Kadian, Avinza), and fentanyl, to name a few, are considered Schedule II narcotics. First offenses are not taken into consideration -- right off the bat, it's considered a Class I felony with the potential for a prison sentence no longer than 3.5 years and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.
As a bit of a side note, there are other well-known prescription painkillers that aren't classified as narcotics, but the possession of which still carry $500 fines and 30 days in jail. These include ketamine, anabolic steroids and clonazepam.
Can I get in trouble if my opioids were prescribed?
If you are prescribed opioids by your doctor, you are not liable to be charged with possession. However, if you sell or give away your pills to anybody, even if the recipient has/had a similar prescription, you are considered a drug dealer in the eyes of the law and can be prosecuted. Your prescription was given to you and only you by your doctor for your individualized care. It's optimized for your body and sharing pills with others has high potential for misuse, overdose and even fatality.
How do I get rid of my prescription after I'm done?
In the end, the point is: don't possess drugs if they weren't given to you officially by a doctor. Possession of narcotics is punished very severely in Wisconsin, so keep an eye on your prescriptions to ensure nobody steals them; and if you have any pills leftover from your treatment, dispose of them properly. You don't want anybody abusing them or ingesting them (intentionally or even unintentionally when it comes to little children). There are drug take-back programs, which are the safest and most "official" way of drug disposal. However, if there's not take-back organization available near you, you can also:
What do I do if I'm charged with possession of prescription drugs in Wisconsin?
Being charged with a felony does not mean you should lose all hope. Our attorneys can defend you against prescription drug charges. As with all charges brought against you, the sooner you are able to speak with an attorney the better chance you have of obtaining a favorable outcome. If you are looking to aggressively fight these types of accusations, please contact us today to arrange a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
If you feel that a loved one is abusing prescription drugs, please remember that there are resources that can help them get on the road to recovery. The current opioid crisis in this country is alarming and anyone can develop an addiction. If you are looking to speak with someone please reach out to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Marijuana legalization seems like it's constantly in the news these days. Nine states (at the time of this article's posting) -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington plus the District of Columbia -- have legalized it for recreational use; and more states seem to be headed in that direction. However, the laws of other states do not apply to your own. "But it's legal in California!" is not a legal defense for possession in the state of Wisconsin. As of now, it is still a crime to possess THC because it's considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance alongside heroin, LSD and cocaine. Generally speaking, marijuana possession convictions are less severe than other Schedule I drugs, but it still has potential for significant penalties -- especially for repeat offenders.
To prove possession in Wisconsin, it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused:
Additionally, "joint possession" is a term that indicates multiple people have physical control of the drug. For instance, if marijuana is found in a car with multiple people in it, everyone in the car could be charged since everybody in the car has potential control over the drug.
What Are the Penalties for THC Possession In Wisconsin?
For first-time convictions, THC possession considered a misdemeanor. “The person may be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than 6 months or both upon a first conviction." (Wisconsin Legislature).
With repeat offenses come harsher penalties and an upgrade from misdemeanor to a Class I Felony. Each subsequent conviction carries with it a maximum of $10,000 in fines and up to 3.5 years in prison.
Other things to note:
Penalties Intensify if Intent to Sell Is Proven
Wisconsin drug laws dictate that if the accused intended to sell or distribute THC, they are automatically charged with a felony. Punishments are dependent on the amount:
As former prosecutors, we know the strategies used by the State and work aggressively on behalf of our clients to ensure their rights are secure. With law offices in Wisconsin Dells, we serve clients throughout Central Wisconsin and can help you whether you are a resident of the state or just visiting.
The sooner our attorneys can start working on your behalf, the better chance you have of obtaining a favorable result. To arrange your free initial consultation, please contact our law offices online or by telephone at 608-254-9589.
Domestic violence is a very serious, but prevalent crime in the US. The US Department of Justice defines domestic abuse as, "a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner." Abuse can manifest itself in a variety of forms -- physically, emotionally, psychologically, sexually or economically. The statistics on abuse in the US are, indeed, alarming. But it's important to examine these numbers to realize just how often it occurs and how we can begin to change for the better.
By the Numbers: Domestic Abuse in the United States
By the Numbers: Domestic Abuse in Wisconsin
What are some red flags to look for?
There are several signs to watch for if you suspect you or a loved one are a victim of domestic abuse. If you experience the following, you may be a victim of abuse:
If somebody close to you exhibits the following behavior, they may be a victim of abuse:
If you or someone you know are being abused, call the domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) from a friend or relative's home, safely away from the abuser. If it's an emergency, dial 911.
If you are accused of domestic abuse, it's no joke. Domestic violence is a serious subject and has extremely severe penalties. Even if you're innocent, it can ruin your reputation. If you stand accused of domestic abuse, you need experienced law professionals on your side to stand up for your rights. Southworth & Stamman have extensive experience in defending clients against accusations of domestic violence and will be on your side even if it seems that no one else is. Get in touch if you stand accused -- don't give up without a fight.
According to the US Department of Justice, domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. There are several types of abuse which often coincide with each other. An abusive partner will engage in one or more of these categories:
Physical abuse is the use of physical force against the other person to cause harm and trauma. This can include: hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting and hair pulling.
Sexual abuse is often tied in with physical abuse, but in this case, the victim is forced into an unwanted sexual act. Any type of sexual act or behavior without consent between each party is considered sexual abuse -- even if the two parties are married.
Emotional abuse is used by one party to undermine or demean their partner’s self-worth and self-esteem. Emotional abuse can be verbal or nonverbal and is commonly used to damage the relationship of one partner with his/her children, parents, siblings and friends.
Common tactics employed by abusers include gaslighting (manipulating someone psychologically to question their own sanity), verbal beratement and belittlement, extreme passive aggression, and isolation from friends and family.
An abuser will try to ensure that the victim is dependent on them in every aspect -- including economically. This is done by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one's access to money, or forbidding one's attendance in school or employment. They try to make it difficult for the victim to leave by cutting off their support.
Economic abuse differs from financial abuse -- financial abuse is when the abuser illegally uses the victim's current finances or assets for their own gain, to deplete the victim's financial independence. Financial abuse is used to deplete current assets, whereas economic abuse is used to hinder future prospects of financial independence.
Psychological abuse is often tied in with emotional abuse, but focuses on using fear on the victim. The abuser will often use intimidation tactics and threats. Some of these tactics include stalking, destruction of personal property, forcing isolation from family/friends and physical harm to pets.
Laws and Punishments for Domestic Violence in Wisconsin
Wisconsin defines domestic abuse as, "an adult engaging in intentional infliction of physical pain, injury, or illness; sexual assault; or physical acts threatening either of those against his or her current or former spouse, current or former co-habitant, or co-parent."
Interestingly enough, Wisconsin doesn't actually have a law specifically prohibiting domestic abuse. Instead, it uses the other, relevant statutes that may fall under the umbrella of "domestic violence" to prosecute cases. So, for example, if a man physically harms his wife, rather than being charged with "domestic abuse", they prosecute the harmful act -- in this case, assault and battery. Unlike other states, Wisconsin does not raise the maximum penalty // if the abuser commits acts against family or household members. Punishments become more severe if the offender has prior records of the same behavior or if they violate restraining orders.
Because Wisconsin does not have a general domestic violence law, cases are prosecuted based on the relevant statutes. Domestic abuse punishment severities are therefore dictated by the severity of that statute's punishment. Although, if found guilty under the 973.055 law, there’s a surcharge of $100 for each offense. In all likelihood, your right to possess and purchase a firearm will likely also be stripped.
Accused of Domestic Violence?
If you've been accused of domestic violence, it's not something to be taken lightly. Offenses that fall under the umbrella of domestic abuse in Wisconsin carry extreme penalties -- misdemeanor /felony charges, hefty fines, and/or significant prison time -- depending on the case and the criminal record of the accused.
You need experienced professionals in your corner to fight for your rights and ensure that you're not taken advantage of. Operating out of Sauk County, Wisconsin, Southworth & Stamman are experienced defense attorneys that have taken on many successful domestic violence cases in the past. Contact Us today to ensure you have the best possible legal defense by your side.
Victim of Domestic Violence?
If you suspect that you or a loved one are a victim of domestic abuse, help is available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) -- it's free, confidential and available 24/7 in over 200 languages.
"White collar" crimes involve various types of fraud and theft within business and government sectors -- insurance fraud, identity theft, tax evasion, insider trading, bribery, etc. The main objective of the criminals in these cases is non-violent, personal financial gain, concealing their crimes from the public and usually severely damaging their employer. White collar or financial crimes are taken very seriously in Wisconsin. Being charged with any financial crime can destroy a person’s credit score or entire business. These crimes often require a lengthy, detailed investigation. The penalties for white collar crimes are severe, so it’s critical that your lawyer has extensive knowledge about the proper defense strategies. Here are the top three most popular crimes in Wisconsin.
Embezzlement is theft or misappropriation of funds placed in one’s trust or belonging to one’s employer. We, as a society, usually associate embezzlement with wealthy individuals in aristocracy that illegally game the stock market or steal from their own business and investors. But it actually pertains to much, much more. In Wisconsin, embezzlement is categorized as a type of 'larceny'. The requirements to call a crime embezzlement specifically are:
By this definition, somebody that sells the company car without permission is actually embezzlement. It can even pertain to retail employees slipping money from the cash register into their own pockets -- however, it only becomes a felony when the amount stolen exceeds $2,500.
If you’re interested in learning more about embezzlement in Wisconsin, click out our other blog about it.
Computer Crimes defines a broad spectrum of offenses. Computer crimes, sometimes referred to as cyber crime, is the act of knowing and willingly stealing a company’s or individuals private information. Some of the typical crimes include:
In order to prosecute, it must be proven that the alleged offender acted was willfully and knowingly. Offenses against computers, data and programs carry class A misdemeanor penalties, but a cyber crime turns into a felony if:
In 2014, Wisconsin ranked 22nd in the nation for internet crime complaints according to Ready Wisconsin. Wisconsin also ranked 20th in the nation on money lost to internet crimes -- reported losses totaled $9,235,027.
Tax Evasion, also referred to as tax fraud, is intentionally failing to pay your taxes. Tax evasion is commonly associated with income taxes, but businesses can fail to report state sales taxes and employment taxes. Actually, tax evasion can occur on all types of taxes a business is required to pay. Some of these taxes include: property taxes, excise taxes on use or consumption, gross receipts tax and franchise taxes.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, it is:
"required to post information about delinquent taxpayers on the Internet if they owe: more than $25,000, including tax, interest, penalty, fees, and costs, and the amount is unpaid more than 90 days after all appeal rights have expired. The 2007 Wisconsin Act 20 expanded individuals qualified for Internet posting. On January 4, 2008 the delinquent taxpayer list was updated to include delinquent taxpayers who owe: more than $5,000, including tax, interest, penalty, fees, and costs, and the amount is unpaid more than 90 days after all appeal rights have expired."
You really don't want to be on that list! If you have been accused of any of the above crimes, it's important to know your rights, as they can carry heavy penalties if the crime is severe enough. Contact us to speak with experienced defense attorneys that will defend your rights and ensure your needs are met.
So you or a loved one has been charged with embezzlement. You don’t know anything about embezzlement and don’t know where to turn. You might have been accused, or know you’ll be accused soon. What do you do? First, you should know what embezzlement is and the steps you should take.
What is Embezzlement?
Unfortunately, embezzlement is hard to define. There tends to be a gray area between cases of fraud and theft. What we do know is that embezzlement is theft or misappropriation of funds placed in one’s trust or belonging to one’s employer.
When we think of theft, we think of someone going into a store and taking valuables without paying or permission. Embezzlement is similar, but the offender has legal access to the valuables and is trying to achieve the same goal. In general, we associate embezzlement with the theft of funds, but embezzlement can be the stealing of any item from someone who has legal access or power. It can even pertain to someone who sells the company vehicle or computer without permission.
What’s the Punishment for Embezzlement in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, embezzlement is a theft crime and involves the taking of property or money that the offender has been entrusted to keep safe. More often than not, it’s an employment situation. For example, a banker who has physical access to money, but cannot take it without permission. Surprisingly, it’s a frequent crime. In fact, according to the National White Collar Crime Center, "In 2013, it is estimated that global losses due to employee theft totals to about $3.7 trillion. Many corporate security experts estimate that as many as 25-40 percent of all employees steal from their employers."
In order for embezzlement to be true, there are certain situations that need to occur:
In Wisconsin, an attorney will often question the truth of these statements. If you’re under embezzlement charges for other reasons, it’s best to stay quiet and talk to your attorney.
The financial penalties for embezzlement can also include some hefty fines in addition to restitution and legal fees. A class A misdemeanor can cost you fines of up to $10,000.00. A class I and H felony can cost you fines of up to $10,000.00 as well. . Lastly, a class G Felony can cost you fines of up to $25,000.00.
Is Embezzlement a Felony or Misdemeanor?
The short answer is: it depends.
In Wisconsin, a felony relating to embezzlement depends on the value of the stolen property and the nature of the business. As stated above, if the embezzlement is less than $2,500, the charge is only a Class A misdemeanor. Although the fines can really rack up, it is significantly better than having a felony record. As the value goes past $2,500, the accused embezzlement charges will continue to increase. A class I felony can mean prison for 3 years and 6 months. The worst case scenario of $10,000 and above, Class G felony, can send you to prison for 10 years.
Cases of Embezzlement in Wisconsin
There are many examples of embezzlement charges in Wisconsin. In Madison, a former accounting clerk for St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing $800,000 from the congregation. Her responsibilities included depositing church collections and maintaining the church’s accounting records. The accountant allegedly used this money to gamble at casinos.
In Milwaukee, a former bank executive was convicted of embezzlement charges between 2003 and 2014. As the president and CEO of Farmers Exchange Bank, he gave himself bonuses without the board of directors’ approval. He used the money to purchase a Corvette, motorhome, SUV’s and car racing equipment . He was also accused of taking out money in the names of other people. He is charged for 25 counts of embezzlement.
Embezzlement can be difficult to understand. There are many gray areas when trying to figure out if the crime is a felony or just a misdemeanor. The punishment for embezzlement can be pretty severe and needs to be taken seriously. If you have any questions or need a great law attorney, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
As 2017 comes to a close, it is hard to turn the tv on and not hear about the opioid epidemic that is still raging on throughout the country. For many people, being prescribed these powerful pain medications may seem counterproductive against the crusade, but a necessity. If you are prescribed opioids, you can help combat this nationwide issue by properly disposing of any unused pills. Simply keeping them in the medicine cabinet or passing them along to someone who requests them either for payment or as a favor is a crime.
In Wisconsin, prescription drugs are classified into five different Schedules. Schedule I and II are classified as having a high potential for abuse and unlawful distribution carries severe penalties under state law.
If you are accused of selling prescription drugs, it is vital that you seek representation as soon as possible. Depending on the amount, type, and whether or not this is the first time you have had a run-in with the law, the penalties range from substantial fines, imprisonment, and felony charges.
We understand that people can use poor judgement and often times don’t consider what they are doing could be harmful. With the current crisis, prosecutors are cracking down and seeking severe punishments.
As former prosecutors, we can defend you against prescription drug charges. If you are accused, the sooner you speak with an attorney the better. The prosecution will not sit around and wait to start building a case against you, so you should not wait to start your defense.
To schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys, please contact us either online or by calling, 608-254-9589.
In Columbia County, Wisconsin, a bench warrant is issued against an individual when they fail to show up for a scheduled court appearance. If a circumstance arises that prevents you from appearing in court, it is not enough to notify your attorney, but you must also notify the courts. Failing to notify the court will result in a judge issuing a warrant for your arrest and it will be law enforcements job to find and bring you in.
If you feel that there is a possibility there could be a warrant out for your arrest, there are free resources online to check. If you do find out that there is a warrant for your arrest, we would advise you to turn yourself in and schedule a hearing to allow you to be released on bond. Turning yourself in does not necessarily mean you are admitting guilt, but showing the judge that you are taking the matter seriously. If you do not turn yourself in, there is a possibility that a potential employer could find the warrant. Or, if you are pulled over for a traffic violation, when the officer runs your name, they will see the warrant and arrest you.
If you know there is a warrant and would like to voluntarily turn yourself into law enforcement, we strongly advise you to seek legal advice first. Having an experienced attorney on your side can result in a more favorable outcome than taking on the legal system by yourself. To consult with one of our attorneys, please contact us today.
If you are in need of legal representation in Adams, Sauk, Juneau, or Columbia County, it is important to work with an experienced and trusted legal professional in the area. Putting your personal freedoms and representation in the hands of someone that doesn’t offer the personal attention and time to your case could be detrimental. Attorney Scott Southworth and Philip Stamman are former prosecutors that understand how the state convicts the accused. We are committed to acting with the utmost integrity in every interaction we have with clients, fellow attorneys, judges and other legal professionals. The reputation that we have built in the community comes from meaning and doing what we say we’ll do with every client.
We understand that good people make mistakes and rough patches happen. We also know that there are times individuals are wrongly accused of a crime they did not commit. No matter what your situation, we are here to help. Having advocates on your side with experience can be the difference in conviction.
If you are in need of an attorney and are serious in fighting the charges brought against you, please contact our offices today. The sooner we can start working on your defense, the better. Contact our office today for a free consultation. You can call our law offices at 608-254-9589 or send us an email. Tell us your problem so we can work together to find a solution.
For almost all of us there are moments in our past that make us take a step back and reflect on the current path we are on. If you have been accused of a crime and the case is ongoing, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney. While a case is ongoing, an attorney is able to start working on an expunction, if you are interested in having your record be permanently sealed. Having a criminal record is something that can follow you around for the rest of your life, but it doesn’t have too. The attorneys at Southworth & Stamman have been successful in handling expunctions and ensuring that your past will stay sealed so long as there is not a court order to have it opened again.
Apart from having the peace of mind of putting your past behind you, a successful expunction helps an individual to find better employment, get an apartment, go to a certain school, or enjoy other liberties that may have been hindered due to your criminal past. In Adams County, Wisconsin, the guidelines for expunging a record include an individual being under the age of 25 at the time of the offense, excluding certain felonies, successfully completing their sentence, and if probation was enforced, it not being violated.
If you are looking to start a fresh chapter in your life, but have been apprehensive due to a checkered past, contact us today. Your life does not have to remain altered due to past mistakes. To arrange your free consultation with a skilled Wisconsin defense lawyer, please call us today at 608-254-9589 or contact us online.