Drug Crimes in Michigan
Understanding Drug Crimes in Michigan
Drug crimes are one of the most common felonies in the state of Michigan and can result in severe penalties. Though drug crimes vary in degree, all offenses are serious, whether the charge is possession, possession with intent to distribute, delivery/manufacturing, or trafficking.
Any arrest for drug possession carries with it the possibility of jail time. If a drug crime is classified as a misdemeanor – as is typically the case for possession of marijuana – that can mean up to one year in jail. A felony drug crime can mean a punishment of anywhere from one year to life in prison, particularly for the possession of cocaine.
For first-time drug offenders, with the help of an attorney, it may be possible that a judge will suspend your sentence in exchange for a term of probation. Violating the terms of probation, however, will in all likelihood activate your original sentence immediately.
Repeat drug possession offenders are an example of the harsh drug laws that exist in the state of Michigan. Anyone convicted of a second offense of drug possession or possession with intent to distribute a Schedule I or II drug of over 50 grams may be sentenced up to life in prison.
There are nuances to the legalities of drug possession. The greater quantity of drug that is in your possession, the more serious the punishment can be. Most importantly, there is a significant difference between “possession of drugs” and “possession with intent to distribute.” Do not be misled: Drug crime penalties are extremely harsh, regardless of classification.
In the state of Michigan, you can be arrested for drug possession even if you do not have marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or other drugs on your person. Illegal drugs found in your car, home, office, or any item or place that you have reasonable control over means you could be charged with constructive possession.
There are dozens of drug crimes that a person can be charged with in Michigan or investigated for, and an experienced drug crime attorney is recommended to represent you in any drug crime. These drug crimes include but are certainly not limited to the following:
- Cocaine possession
- Cocaine possession with the intent to sell or deliver
- Distribution of medical marijuana
- Drug charges pre-file investigation
- Drug cultivation and manufacture
- Drug distribution and sale
- Drug trafficking
- Ecstasy possession
- Ecstasy possession with intent to sell or deliver
- Federal and major felony drug trafficking
- Heroin possession
- Heroin possession with intent to sell or deliver
- Marijuana possession with intent to sell or deliver
- Meth possession with intent to sell or deliver
- Possession of marijuana
- Possession of methamphetamines
- Prescription drug crime charges
Drug cultivating or manufacturing
The laws pertaining to drug cultivation and manufacturing apply to both naturally occurring plants, like marijuana plants and cannabis seeds, and the production of illegal drugs like crack cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and methamphetamines. Even if you are cultivating or manufacturing a drug for your own personal use, that can still result in a drug manufacturing charge.
Drug trafficking does not necessarily refer to the movement of drugs from one person to another or one state to another. The quantity of the drug involved is the major element in a drug trafficking charge and the greater the amount of a drug, the greater chance of being charged with a drug trafficking crime, a Class A felony.
Possession with Intent to Distribute
The charge of possession with intent to distribute can occur if a person is deemed to be delivering, furnishing, or selling a controlled substance, including marijuana. This is a Class B felony.
It is not uncommon for a person who is in possession of an illegal drug to be accused by the police of possession with intent to distribute. Do not be pressured by police or prosecutors to admit to a crime that you did not actually commit. You may have been in possession of a drug, but if it was for personal use only you are innocent of possession with intent to distribute, and you need an attorney who can represent you on this matter in court.
Possession with intent to distribute means the person was charged because they were in possession of a controlled substance and the police and prosecutors suspect the reason for said possession was distribution. A conviction for this type of crime may come with incredibly damaging, life-changing criminal penalties.
Michigan Classifications of Controlled Substances
Schedule I substances
Considered highly dangerous, with a high probability of abuse or addiction, and of little or no recognized medical value. Examples: ecstasy, LSD, heroin, peyote, hallucinogenic mushrooms, GHB (the date rape drug), and marijuana.
Schedule II substances
High potential for abuse and addiction. Have an approved medical use in the United States, though extremely regulated because of their addictive natures. Examples: morphine, opium, hydrocodone, methadone, methamphetamines, cocaine, oxycodone.
Schedule III substances
Lower risk of dependency than the substances in schedules I or II, but still with moderate addictive risk. Have accepted medical uses. Examples: ketamine (anabolic steroids), lower potency morphine, hydrocodone with aspirin or acetaminophen.
Schedule IV substances
Low risk of abuse and limited addictive tendencies. Examples: Rohypnol, valium, Xanax.
Schedule V substances
Low risk of abuse but the potential still exists. Can often be bought over the counter. Examples: cold medicine with ephedrine, cough syrups with codeine.
In the state of Michigan, it is illegal to possess controlled substances without a valid prescription (with the exception of those in Schedule 5), and penalties can vary according to the amount or type involved. The type of drug you are charged with possessing is only one consideration in potential punishments. The quantity of the drug is a great factor, and if the quantity in your possession at the time of arrest was larger than reasonable for one person’s use, a possession with intent to distribute charge may result. A person who manufactures and distributes faces more serious ramifications than simple use or possession.
Penalties for Possession of Schedule I or II controlled substances:
- More than 1,000 grams: Felony charge. Life in prison and fines up to $1 million.
- Between 450- 1,000 grams: Felony charge. Up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
- Between 50- 450 grams: Felony charge. Up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
- Between 25-50 grams: Felony charge. Up to four years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
Possession of Designer Drugs
Synthetic drugs are often called “designer drugs.” They are similar in their chemical makeup to Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, offering users the same kind of “high” as other illegal drugs, but at one time people found in possession of designer drugs were not charged with a drug crime. Now, the possession of these drugs, such as bath salts or synthetic marijuana (spice), is heavily regulated and the penalties can be harsh.
Possession of Analogues (Prescription Drugs)
Anyone in Michigan found in possession of analog drugs can face a felony drug charge with penalties including up to two years in prison and fines of up to $2,000. If you are charged with possession of an analog drug with intent to distribute – a felony – you face up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.
Possession of Marijuana
Marijuana has been legalized in Michigan for medical use, but individuals who are caught in possession of marijuana without a medical marijuana card often face jail time or substantial fines. Possession of marijuana has a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison and $2,000 in fines under Michigan drug laws. If police and prosecutors are able to prove that you were in possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, even a very small amount could result in up to four years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000. Even if you are caught using marijuana, you face a misdemeanor charge, a 90-day jail sentence, or a fine of up to $100. The penalties increase drastically in severity for people who are charged with cultivating marijuana or distributing it.
Possession of Cocaine or Heroin
Possession of cocaine, heroin, or other serious drugs like ecstasy, morphine, or methamphetamines comes with serious penalties and a felony charge. Possession of cocaine and heroin in amounts of up to 25 grams can result in a sentence of up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. The greater the amount of drug on your person, the more severe the penalties will be.
Possession with intent to distribute, however, is far more serious than possession alone and can result in a prison sentence of up to 25 years to life and a fine anywhere from $25,000 to $1,000,000.
What Can a Michigan Drug Crime Attorney Do for Me?
Various factors will affect the outcome of your drug case, from the type and quantity of the drug involved to whether or not you have a prior criminal record.
Depending on the nature of the drug crime, a positive outcome can mean that your Michigan attorney is able to have the charges against you dismissed. In some cases, your best option may be to negotiate a guilty plea down to a reduced or suspended sentence. Sometimes, first-time offenders who are charged with drug crimes may be eligible for an alternative sentence such as completing a mandatory drug treatment program.
Ultimately, the goal is to protect your legal rights and minimize the negative impact that a drug crime could have on your life and future. It’s critical that you consult a Michigan drug crime attorney as soon as possible so that you understand the seriousness of the charges, the penalties you face, and the legal help you need.