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Drug Possession

You can be charged with drug possession under Michigan law if you are in possession of controlled substance or controlled substance analogue that has not been prescribed to you by a medical professional. A controlled substance analogue is a drug that is chemically similar to a controlled substance; these are sometimes referred to as "designer drugs."

You can also be charged with drug possession if you have a blank prescription form and are not a qualified medical professional.

The penalties for a drug possession charge, if you are convicted, are extraordinarily steep. You can face fines, prison, and a felony conviction that can impact your ability to get a job or to be accepted to the college of your choice. The laws are complex and the risk of incriminating yourself in an interrogation are high.

If you are charged with drug possession, contact an experienced drug possession lawyer at Michigan Defense Law right away. We represent clients in Macomb and Oakland counties and throughout the state, including Detroit, Royal Oak, Troy, West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Rochester Hills, Plymouth, and Canton.

What is a Controlled Substance?

Controlled substances are drugs whose use is controlled by laws and regulations at the Federal and state level. They are divided into classifications based on their potential to cause addiction and abuse. These classifications are called “schedules”. There are 5 schedules, usually denoted by roman numerals I to V. The lower numbers have the highest abuse potential, and the lowest the least potential. The consequences for a drug possession conviction for any scheduled controlled substance, however, are severe.

  • Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, MDMA (Ecstasy), and psilocybin (mushrooms). The possibility of addiction is high. A Schedule I drug is not considered safe and they does not have generally accepted medical uses.
  • Schedule II substances include drugs like OxyContin and morphine. The likelihood of dependency is high, but they do have medical purposes under supervision.
  • Schedule III drugs include Vicodin and anabolic steroids. The risk of addiction or dependence is considered low to moderate, and they have recognized medical purposes.
  • Schedule IV drugs include Xanax and other anti-anxiety medications. Their potential for dependence and abuse are considered low, and they have recognized medical purposes.
  • Schedule V drugs include cough medicines with codeine in small amounts. The potential for abuse is low and they are primarily used for medical purposes.
What About Marijuana?

Marijuana is still listed in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) roster of Schedule I drugs at the Federal level. However, recreational possession of marijuana became legal in Michigan last year. It is still against the law to use marijuana in a school zone, however. It is also still against the law to use marijuana while driving, as it is to use any drug (or alcohol, for that matter).

What Penalties Do I Face for Drug Possession?

Drug possession penalties depend on two factors: the schedule of the drug and the amount law enforcement says you had. Under Michigan law, penalties are highest for Schedule I and II drugs and they climb with the amount as well. (Take note that there are also federal criminal laws addressing possession of controlled substances. The penalties for violating those laws tend to be more severe, generally speaking. We do not address those laws here.)

Here are the potential penalties under Michigan law for drug possession.

Schedule I or II

If you are convicted of possessing less than 25 grams of a Schedule I or II drug, such as heroin, you could face up to 4 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, or both.

The penalties are the same for 25 to 50 grams.

Possession of 50 to 450 grams can result in a prison term of up to 20 years and a $250,000.00 fine, or both.

Possession of 450 to 1,000 grams can result in a prison term of up to 30 years and a $500,000.00 fine, or both.

Possession of more than 1,000 grams can result in life in prison or a $1 million fine, or both.

Other Penalties

Possession of methamphetamine or ecstasy (MDMA) can result in up to 10 years in prison or a $15,000 fine, or both.

Possession of a Schedule I, II, III, or IV drug (or analogue) that is neither a narcotic or cocaine can result in two years in prison and a $2,000 fine, or both.

All of the above are felonies, which are more serious crimes than misdemeanors, and thus carry higher penalties.

Some drug possession charges are misdemeanors. Possession of a Schedule V substance, for example, or LSD, psilocyn, psilocybin (mushrooms), mescaline, peyote, or dimethyltryptamine is a misdemeanor. The penalties are up to a year in jail or a $2,000.00 fine, or both.

If you are charged with possession of a prescription form, it is also a misdemeanor. Penalties include up to 1 year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

What Defenses Against Conviction Do I Have?

Remember, being charged with drug possession is not a conviction. You have the right to a vigorous defense.

Your lawyer can discuss defenses for a drug possession charge with you. If you are innocent of the charges, explain the situation fully and calmly. It's a distressing situation, but your legal team needs to know the complete facts from your point of view.

Everything You Tell a Lawyer is Confidential

In many cases, drug possession charges stem from a traffic stop, where the officer who stopped the car claims to have smelled or seen drugs or paraphernalia related to drugs, or otherwise claims to have suspected the occupants were under the influence of drugs. There are specific laws governing search and seizure of items from a vehicle. One possible defense is challenging the search as illegal or challenging the evidence's validity because of how it was found.

Controlled substances need to be tested to verify that they are controlled substances, and not baking powder or sugar, for instance. Another potential defense is to challenge the testing as erroneous.

Many times, people are charged with drug possession when in fact the substances in question were not theirs. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, having control over someone else’s drugs can still constitute you “possessing” it. A defense attorney can advise you about a possible defense, however, in which the challenge is that you were only transporting the substance and had no intent to possess it.

It is also often possible to plead guilty to a reduced charge, especially for a first offense.

In some cases, courts will sentence offenders to a mandatory rehabilitation program rather than jail, fines, or other penalties. Your lawyer may advocate for your placement in these programs in lieu of other penalties.

Call a Michigan Defense Attorney

Drug possession charges can be frightening because of the stakes involved. A felony conviction is life-changing and the penalties may be onerous. A seasoned Michigan drug possession lawyer can explain your rights under the law and fight to see that justice is done. Contact Michigan Defense Law today to learn more.

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