Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan marijuana case in which the defendant argued that the identity of the confidential informant used by law enforcement should be disclosed. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant was not entitled to the disclosure and affirmed the defendant’s conviction for both the distribution of marijuana as well as a firearms offense.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, police officers were tipped off by a confidential informant that the defendant was selling marijuana from his home in Pontiac, Michigan. As officers arrived at the defendant’s home, they saw him sitting on his front porch with a pistol in his hand. Officers went into the defendant’s home, where he was searched. Officers located marijuana, cocaine and a loaded gun.
In a pre-trial motion, the defendant argued that the prosecution should be compelled to release the confidential informant’s identity. The defendant based his argument on the fact that the defendant had a medical marijuana card and only distributed marijuana to his patients. The defendant argued that, if the confidential informant existed, it was not illegal for the defendant to sell marijuana to him.
In response, the prosecution dropped the marijuana charges. The court then weighed whether the defendant would be entitled to immunity or an affirmative defense under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. However, due to difficulties obtaining a list of the defendant’s patients, the court could not conclusively determine if the confidential informant was one of the defendant’s patients. The court denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant was convicted. He filed a timely appeal.
The Court’s Opinion
The appellate court began by noting that, generally, the prosecution does not need to disclose the identity of a confidential informant. However, if the defense can show a credible need for the informant’s testimony, the court must conduct an in camera hearing to determine the relevance of the informant’s testimony.
Here, the court explained that the defendant failed to show that the informant’s testimony would be helpful, because, if the informant was a patient, then the defendant’s conduct was not illegal. However, the court noted that, even if the informant was one of the defendant’s patients, it would not invalidate the search warrant. The court explained that police would still have had probable cause to obtain the warrant, because even if the informant was a patient, they did not have “clear and uncontroverted evidence” that the defendant was in full compliance with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.
Have You Been Arrested for Selling Marijuana in Michigan?
While societal attitudes towards marijuana are shifting, marijuana is still largely illegal to possess. Even those who can legally possess the drug are subject to many restrictions. If you have been arrested and charged for the distribution of marijuana, contact the dedicated Michigan marijuana distribution lawyers at Michigan Defense Law. Our attorneys have decades of experience defending clients from the serious allegations they face. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call 248-451-2200 today.