Terese J. Singer

The Importance of Hiring a Capable Attorney If You Are Facing Wisconsin Drug Trafficking Charges

By Reddin & Singer

Drug Trafficking Charges

If you were charged with trafficking drugs such as marijuana, you need to hire a competent Milwaukee criminal defense attorney immediately. Failure to do so can place you at a significant disadvantage during trial. In Orengo v. Tegels, a man filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus following a Milwaukee County drug trafficking conviction. According to the trial record, local law enforcement officers found both marijuana and crack cocaine in a relative’s closet that the man was reportedly using to store his belongings. Police also apparently found a loaded handgun and drug paraphernalia with the man’s fingerprint on it in the same room.

About one month later, law enforcement officers allegedly caught the man and another individual attempting to hide drug scales and bags of marijuana during a traffic stop. The man was arrested and charged with possession of crack cocaine and two counts of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver related to the two incidents. He was also charged with illegal possession of a firearm. The man entered a “not guilty” plea, and the other passenger in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop agreed to testify against the man in exchange for a reduced sentence.

After the state rested its case against the man, the trial court dismissed the gun charge because there was no proof offered that he was in possession of the weapon. Next, the jury acquitted the man of one count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver related to the drugs found during the traffic stop. Despite this, jurors convicted the man of both drug charges stemming from the crack cocaine and marijuana that police found in the relative’s closet. The man was ultimately sentenced to 12 years in prison followed by six years of extended supervision.

Next, the man filed two unsuccessful post-conviction motions, claiming he received ineffective assistance of counsel. He then sought a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 from the Western District of Wisconsin. According to his petition, the man was entitled to such extraordinary relief because his attorney should have sought to sever the weapons charge, objected to prejudicial hearsay offered at trial, and asked the trial court for a mistrial.

The Wisconsin federal court stated the man was responsible for demonstrating that his attorney committed acts or omissions that “fell below the objective standard of reasonableness” and deprived him of a fair trial. The court then analyzed each of the man’s claims. The court found that the man did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel over the firearms charge. The court stated the nation’s Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has recognized that such charges may generally be properly joined with drug trafficking charges. In addition, the court held that the man failed to demonstrate such a motion would have been successful if filed.

The federal court then turned to the man’s argument that his attorney should have objected to prejudicial hearsay and moved for a mistrial after certain testimony was provided at trial. After analyzing the record, the court found that there was sufficient evidence beyond the alleged hearsay to link the man to the drugs that were found in the closet. The court also held that the man failed to show the statements were sufficiently prejudicial to merit a mistrial.

Since the convicted man did not establish that he was entitled to habeas corpus relief, the Western District of Wisconsin denied the man’s petition and dismissed his case with prejudice.

Choosing the right criminal attorney is important. If you need the assistance of an experienced Milwaukee drug crimes lawyer, you should contact the law offices of Reddin & Singer, LLP. Our law firm provides free, no-obligation consultations to each prospective client. Criminal charges can be tough to deal with, but you don’t have to face them alone. Give the knowledgeable attorneys at Reddin & Singer, LLP a call today at (414) 271-6400 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources

Orengo v. Tegels, Dist. Court, WD Wisconsin 2015

Photo Credit: MindExpansi0n, MorgueFile

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