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Eau Claire Criminal Defense Blog

3 reasons you should never let cops search your car

Are you aware of the rights you have when a cop requests to search your vehicle? If you are like most people, you may not know you have the right to refuse. A police officer needs your consent to conduct a search of your car, unless he or she has a warrant or reasonable suspicion of a crime. Make sure you know when you should say "no" to police officers.

Generally, if a police officer asks for your consent, you should refuse, even if you do not have anything suspicious to hide. Here are some reasons why you should say "no" to vehicle searches.

What is an OWI?

Many Eau Claire Metro Area, Menomonie, Central Wisconsin, Chippewa Valley residents assume the terms OWI (operating while impaired) and DUI (driving under the influence) are interchangeable. Though both offenses involve alcohol, there are some significant distinctions between them. Each carries strict penalties that could irrevocably change your life. 

In Wisconsin, it is not a crime to consume alcohol. It becomes an OWI crime when you get inside your car or are in control of a vehicle. One clear difference between an OWI and DUI is you do not have to drive or be in the driver’s seat to get an OWI. You do not have to be in a car, SUV or truck to end up in trouble with the law. 

Wisconsin man took a nap and wound up arrested for drug crimes

Wisconsin police often patrol in or near community parks. Most parks post signs listing rules, such as when a park is open to the public or closed, what people may or may not bring into it and other regulations. If police suspect that a person has disobeyed park rules or has committed a criminal offense, such as drug crimes in or near a park that children frequent, they may further investigate to determine if they have probable cause to make an arrest.

That appears to be what happened recently when a man was reportedly taking a nap in a vehicle at a local park. It was nearly 3 a.m. when patrol officers noticed the man and claimed to have smelled marijuana coming from his vehicle when they approached. The officers searched the man's car. 

Wisconsin cop questions woman about marijuana

The duties of Wisconsin police officers typically include making routine traffic stops. Such situations sometimes result in nothing more than a warning to a driver, perhaps regarding travel speed or a broken tail light. Other situations, however, lead to the arrest of one or more people, which is what happened recently when a police officer claimed to have smelled marijuana coming from the inside of a woman's car. 

The 21-year-old woman was reportedly traveling with her 49-year-old mother and three young children in the car. Officials say the initial reason for the traffic stop had to do with the tint of the vehicle's windows. Two of the children in the car were toddlers and the other was an infant.

Are prescription drugs safe to share?

The field of medicine has progressed significantly in the last few decades, producing amazing medications that can prevent, treat or even cure diseases of all kinds. Some of these drugs have a high risk of dangerous side effects, though, so they follow strict regulation. This includes only obtaining them through a valid prescription from a licensed doctor.

Despite this requirement, many people think it is not a problem to share prescription drugs with friends and family. After all, you may think, if someone else needs it for the same reason, why not share it to avoid the hassle of setting up and going to a doctor appointment to get it?

A man is headed to prison for drug crimes in Wisconsin

When Wisconsin prosecutors file criminal charges against someone, it does not necessarily mean that he or she will go to jail. In fact, it does not necessarily mean that he or she will even be convicted. Sometimes, multiple charges are filed, as in the case of a 39-year-old man who faced charges in September for drug crimes.  

The ultimate outcome of this particular case includes a jail sentence for a man who was convicted of manufacturing and delivering cocaine. He was also found guilty for possession of more than 40 grams of cocaine, with intent to distribute the drug. Because the charges for which he was convicted are felonies, the penalties he incurred are quite severe.  

Man convicted of OWI in single vehicle crash sentenced to prison

When a Wisconsin motor vehicle collision occurs, it sometimes leads to criminal charges against one or more drivers. Such situations often include suspected OWI. However, situations involving suspected drunk driving may also lead to addition criminal charges, especially if the accident resulted in injury or death to another person.

That is what happened after a crash that took place when a vehicle left the road and traveled onto a frozen lake. Prosecutors filed charges against the man behind the wheel at the time, stating they had evidence to show he was drunk. The man's car hit a bridge that crossed over the lake.

Problem-solving courts: An alternative to general court

When people break the law, many believe the offender should face punishment. This may be true. However, when there is an underlying issue behind the actions, offenders may end up committing the same crimes again.

If you or a loved one face criminal charges, there may be additional options besides general court proceedings. Understanding these problem-solving courts may aid you in your case.

Probation does not mean you are out of the woods just yet

A common penalty for people who allegedly commit certain crimes is probation. While many people often jump for joy when they receive that verdict, it is not always a walk in the park. Anyone who receives probation as a condition of their sentence should prepare to walk a straight and narrow line to avoid additional troubles with the law.

Probation carries stipulations you must follow to avoid spending time in jail and ending up with a harsher sentence. In most cases, restitution, community service and the completion of a court-ordered education or therapy program are a few probation conditions. Take a few moments to learn what is at stake if you violate the terms of probation. By law, you are responsible for what happens to you while on probation. Any associations you may have with unsavory characters and questionable activities can land you back in hot water and mess up your probation. Keep in mind that probation comes with a set length of time that can range from as little as a few months to several years.

Wisconsin high school student facing felony marijuana charges

Most high schools in Wisconsin and elsewhere have rules regarding what students may or may not bring to school. For instance, it is never okay to enter a school with a weapon. It is also not okay to have marijuana in one's possession on school grounds. Disobeying such rules or existing criminal statutes can have immediate and far-reaching negative consequences, especially if the person involved is a minor. 

A drug-related situation is reportedly what caused a big problem for a 17-year-old boy during school hours on a recent Monday. The boy's teacher is the one who supposedly approached school officials, saying the student reeked of marijuana. Administrators then contacted police.  

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