Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan gun case involving a police officer’s purported inventory search of the defendant’s vehicle. The case is a good example of what police officers can – and cannot – do during a valid Michigan traffic stop.

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer observed the defendant driving a car with a license plate light that was hanging in front of the license plate. The officer followed the defendant into a parking lot, and the defendant parked in a spot in the far corner of the lot. As the officer approached, the defendant explained that his license was suspended. The defendant provided a Department of Corrections identification card.

Upon the officer’s request, the defendant got out of the vehicle, at which point he was patted down. The officer found a pocket knife, but nothing else. The officer then placed the defendant in the rear of his police car to verify the status of his suspended license. The officer then realized that the defendant had two warrants out for his arrest. The officer repeatedly asked the defendant to consent to a search of the vehicle, and the defendant refused consent each time. The officer then approached the vehicle to speak with the passenger, who also had a suspended license.

In 2018, Michigan voters passed the “Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act,” (the Act) which provided for the legal recreational use of marijuana. The Act, which will go into effect in 2020, allows adults ages 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use, and to grow up to 12 cannabis plants at home. Of course, driving under the influence of marijuana is still considered a crime under the Operating While Under the Influence (OWI) statute.

As people began to use marijuana more freely, lawmakers believe that there will be an increased risk of people getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Indeed, law enforcement agencies nationwide have cited statistics indicating that the legalization of marijuana increases the rate of marijuana DUI accidents. However, these statistics are flawed because marijuana remains in a person’s system for days or weeks after use, and there is no way to say that marijuana intoxication contributed to an accident just because it was found in a driver’s system. Regardless, the legalization of marijuana in Michigan has placed law enforcement on high alert for motorists driving under the influence of marijuana.

Most roadside tests do not test for marijuana, and taking a driver suspected of marijuana intoxication down to the station for a blood test is a lengthy process that implicates the driver’s constitutional rights. Thus, according to a recent article, Michigan police are considering a new way to quickly test for marijuana intoxication. State police have implemented the Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot Program in five counties. Authorities claim that the oral test can detect the presence of amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates, and THC, the active psychoactive compound in marijuana.

A state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan drug case requiring the court to determine whether the defendant had standing to bring his motion to suppress. The concept of standing refers to a defendant’s legal ability to bring a motion or ask the court for a certain remedy. In a motion to suppress, courts have held that the defendant must have a subjective expectation of privacy in the area that was searched. In addition, the defendant’s expectation of privacy must be an objectively reasonable one.

According to the court’s opinion, police were conducting a drug trafficking investigation. Undercover officers were working with a confidential informant (CI), who introduced the officers to a woman who knew the defendant. Police purchased drugs from the woman several times. She explained that she obtained the drugs from the defendant.

Officers obtained a search warrant for the woman’s motel room, where they found some cocaine as well as her cell phone. The next day, a police officer responded to a text message that was sent by the defendant, pretending to be the woman. Posing as the woman, the officer told the defendant he could come over to her motel room.

Deciding Punishment for Opioid Use In Michigan While DrivingNews of increased opioid use and deaths due to overdoses continue to make headlines throughout the United States. Michigan is not immune to the crisis—more than 1,900 people died in the state as a result of opioid overdose during 2017. When opioid users get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, they place not only their life but the lives of those around them at risk for injury or death. Michigan has tough laws when it comes to drugged driving charges. If you are charged with driving under the influence of opioids, contact a Michigan defense lawyer without delay.

Common Opioid Drugs

Opioids include illegal drugs, like heroin, and prescription pain medication. Examples of other common opioids are oxycodone, morphine, and methadone. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid is of special concern due to its potency. The synthetic drug is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Originally developed to relieve cancer pain, the drug is often added to heroin or disguised as heroin. Most heroin users are unaware that their drug includes fentanyl, resulting in accidental overdoses.

You’re likely familiar with some of the legal consequences of a conviction on drug charges in Michigan. For possession of drugs listed at the lower levels of the state’s drug schedule system, such as certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs, you could be facing misdemeanor charges. Your sentence may carry up to a year in prison and maximum fine of $2,000. Possession of controlled substances designated as more serious under Michigan law, including marijuana, heroin, and cocaine, may lead to felony charges. Your sentence may be two years or more in prison and hefty fines. However, many people accused of drug charges aren’t aware that there are other consequences of a conviction, beyond jail, probation, and fines. When you consider the additional implications, you can see the importance of retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.

Driver’s License Suspension

State law provides that you could lose your driving privileges as a result of a drug-related conviction, even if you weren’t operating a vehicle at the time of your arrest. Your driver’s license is strictly suspended for 30 days, and there are additional restrictions for up to six months for first offense. For second or subsequent offenses the penalties are worse.

Rehab plays a very important part in a criminal justice system. After all, a very large percentage of people coming through the system have drug and/or alcohol problems. Rehab is often considered.

Some people are sentenced to a period of jail that will be suspended if they enter a residential treatment program or an inpatient treatment program. Other times, people might just be sentenced to probation but also ordered to participate in intensive outpatient treatment or normal outpatient treatment.

If they do this, they won’t have to go to jail. Therefore, rehab and treatment are very important parts of the system. Often, we use them for clients who aren’t in custody in order to keep them out of custody. We do this by entering them into treatment programs and convincing the judge that the client has made a change towards sober living.

The most common drug offenses usually stem from automobile stops. Usually, these cases involve when someone’s vehicle gets stopped for one reason or another, and the police either suspects some kind of drug use or the police arrests the person for some other reason like driving on a suspended license or drunk driving.

The person may have an outstanding warrant and as a result of being lawfully arrested of some other charge, the police then get the opportunity to search the car as part of an inventory search and then find the drugs. That’s the most common way that people end up with the drug charges, from some sort of vehicle search.

Certain Types Of Drugs Or Drug Cases Seen More Often

Are There Any Punishments Or Charges That Can Be Brought Against You For Drug Paraphernalia?

Yes. When talking about either obvious paraphernalia or perhaps legal household items, it’s interesting because even though it’s legal to buy these types of drug paraphernalia, when the police find it on a person and associate it with the use of the illegal drugs, they can charge people with possession of drug paraphernalia for having a syringe or having a pipe and things like that.

So, it is a crime in Michigan. Typically, it’s a 93-day misdemeanor.

What are drug recognition experts and do you have those in Michigan? That is to say, someone who would perhaps be called to the scene to detect drugs other than alcohol in someone who has been pulled over for DUI.

No. In Michigan, there may be some people who have had some special training, but it’s not a common occurrence that you’ll have a specialized expert in drug recognition science called to the scene. Typically, a regular officer will just feel that there is something wrong with that driver, they’ll ask some questions, and if they can’t find sufficient explanation for the symptoms based on the blood alcohol level, then they’ll become more suspicious of whether or not they’re under the influence of drugs. At that point, they’ll do things like check the pupils, check coordination, check for slurred speech, and other kinds of commonsense things. Generally, though, if they conclude after a while—and they’ll usually spend a little more time on cases of suspected driving under the influence of drugs—they will simply arrest the person and then seek a blood draw to try to determine what’s in their system.

What are the laws in Michigan regarding prescription medications and operating a motor vehicle? Have you seen a lot of these cases over the past years?

Interviewer: Does Michigan have specific laws on levels of drugs in people’s system, either illegal or prescription?  Do they look at metabolites versus active compounds?  Do they look at just the level?  What’s the law say?

Attorney Tafelski: Pretty much in Michigan the law concerns illegal drugs.  Any amount is enough for them to convict you of operating under the influence of drugs or operating under the influence of controlled substance.

Michigan Has Passed the Medical Marijuana Law

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