To charge someone with Maintaining A Drug Trafficking Place, the government must prove that you kept or maintained a certain type of facility (such as a building, car, etc.), which you used for manufacturing controlled substance or used for distributing controlled substances. The offense is a Class I Felony with a maximum penalty of 3.5 years of confinement and/or a $10,000 fine.
To find you guilty, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. First, the State must prove that you knowingly kept or maintained any building, dwelling or other structure or place. That means that that the State needs to prove that you exercised management or control over the place. Second, the State must prove that the building, dwelling or other structure or place was used for a specific purpose, such as manufacturing, keeping, or using illegal controlled substances. Third, the State must prove that you kept the place “knowingly,” meaning that you knew it was being used for illegal drug manufacturing and/or trafficking purposes.
Our attorneys have successfully defended our clients from charges in these types of cases. There are a number of defenses that can be used successfully. For example, you may not be the person who is controlling or maintaining the place where police believe illegal drug activity is occurring. It is not uncommon for a person who is facing significant criminal penalties to falsely accuse a third party in hopes of reducing his or her potential criminal penalties. Second, even if you are the person who exercises management or control over the structure, it is not enough for the State to argue that drugs were found inside that structure. The State must prove that you were “keeping” the place for the purpose of furthering illegal drug activity (such as selling drugs out of the home), not merely that you stored drugs in your home on limited occasions because you had to put drugs somewhere. In State v. Brooks, 124 Wis.2d 349, 369 N.W.2d 183 (Ct. App. 1985) (“We read into the noun ‘keeping’ in sec. 961.42(1) the requirement that the controlled substance be kept for the purpose of warehousing or storage for ultimate manufacture or delivery”). Similarly, if drugs were found in your vehicle, you may not be guilty simply because the police found drugs in your vehicle on one occasion. State v. Slagle, 2007 WI App 117, 300 Wis.2d 662, 731 N.W.2d 284 (evidence was insufficient to establish that the use of a vehicle on a single occasion was for “keeping” controlled substances). In each of these examples, the defense depends on the specific facts of your case. It is important that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to evaluate these and other possible defenses. Please contact our offices to schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your case in detail.