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Understanding Michigan’s Drug Laws

When you are facing charges for a drug-related offense in Michigan, you should know that you can be facing serious penalties including significant monetary fines and jail time. Chapter 333 of the Michigan Compiled Laws includes many different drug-related offenses. When you are facing one or more charges, it can be difficult to understand how Michigan law distinguishes between certain possession offenses, as well as certain delivery or manufacture offenses.

It is unlawful to possess, deliver, or manufacture many different drugs and controlled substances in Michigan, and we want to provide you with some additional information about how these crimes are charged.

Possession of Marijuana in Michigan

Under MCL 333.7403, it is unlawful to possess marijuana in the state of Michigan. Depending on the amount of marijuana that a person has in his or her possession, that person can face possession charges as well as charges related to the intent to deliver (or sell) marijuana).

Use of marijuana, as well as possession, is typically a misdemeanor offense, particularly for a first offense. However, it is important to recognize that even a misdemeanor conviction on your record can affect you significantly. Not only can you face up to one year in jail and a monetary fine of up to $2,000, but you also can be denied a job or even credit for a car or home because of a criminal conviction on your record.

Possession of Controlled Substances In Michigan

Possession of other controlled substances like Xanax, Vicodin, Heroin, Cocaine, etc. is usually a felony charge under Michigan law. Individuals may be charged with the possession of other drugs such as ephedrine or the possession of steroids, which are also distinct offenses under Michigan law.

The penalty for possession of a controlled substance depends largely upon the amount of the drug that the person allegedly possesses at the time of the arrest. In general, there are separate offenses for possession of fewer than 25 grams, possession of 25-49 grams of a controlled substance, possession of 50-450 grams, between 450 grams and 1,000 grams, and over 1,000 grams. Similar to the possession of marijuana, depending upon the amount of the controlled substance, a person can also face charges related to the delivery or manufacture of drugs.  Delivery can be a single transaction where a person provides another with drugs even without money being exchanged. For example, in theory, a person could be charged with delivery of marijuana if they shared a joint with a friend or gave a pill of ecstasy to a friend for free. It could still be a “delivery”. Delivery of a controlled substance makes an already serious felony even more serious.

The penalties for possession of a controlled substance are extremely severe. If you are caught possessing less than 50 grams of a controlled substance, you can face a sentence of up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. The penalties increase for the amount in possession. For anywhere from 50 grams to 450 grams, a person can face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Certain drug possession offenses are so severe that a person can face up to life in prison upon conviction.  Furthermore, many drug convictions, even for possession of controlled substances, implicate your eligibility for federal financial aid and your driver’s license. Convictions for many drug charges show up on your driving record, even if the charge doesn’t involve driving, and lead to a lifetime of police suspecting you of drug possession when stopped for routine matters. It is very important for your long-term future to try and keep your record clean of charges involving controlled substances or marijuana. Many people accused of these crimes feel that possession of a small amount of marijuana or a couple pills of prescription medication is not a big deal. The convictions on your record alone can cause lifetime consequences with employment, background checks for leasing, and with routine traffic stops. In addition, in many conservative counties such as Oakland County and Macomb County, your case can get assigned to judges who are very serious about drug possession because of the devastation they have witnessed involving addiction.  Many will use jail time as a wake-up call to people in simple possession of controlled substances. Those with prior histories are in even more jeopardy. In addition to jail, the Courts will almost always use probation to monitor and force sobriety on those accused of possessing controlled substances. The length of probation, the terms of probation and the costs of probation can all vary wildly from judge to judge and case to case depending on lots of different factors. To assume your case will go exactly like a case you heard about from someone else is a very risky gamble.

Often times, there can be defense options in cases involving possession of controlled substances and delivery/manufacture of drugs.  In most cases, the police have to find the drugs. They are usually not simply volunteered. Therefore, an analysis of the legality of the search has to take place.  There are different rules that come into play concerning a search of an automobile for controlled substances or a search of a home for controlled substances. The practices and regard for following legal standards will vary from department to department.  Some officers in Oakland County searching for controlled substances will behave differently than those in Macomb County or Wayne County. The Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) often conducts raids of houses and uses undercover informants to make their arrests.  Usually, planning and multiple people are involved. Cases involving NET squad have different issues than those where a person was driving a car after smoking marijuana and the officer smelled fresh marijuana. If you have a possession of delivery of controlled substance case involving NET squad it is wise to seek legal help immediately.

Some courts are more interested in treatment for those in trouble for possession of controlled substances.  For example, opioid addiction is a major problem. Many communities in Macomb County are seeing very high death rates as a result of opiate overdoses.  Therefore, if the court believes someone is charged with possession of controlled substance who has an addiction issue they will force a heavy treatment program on the Defendant.  It is not unusual for us to have clients who are addicted and want to use their case as an opportunity to get healthy and overcome their problem with controlled substances. In those situations our approach to their case is different.  We focus on getting the client the help that is right for them, imposed in a way that will allow them to succeed and not overwhelm them and that will hopefully stay off their record or have minimal impact on their long-term future. Often times in these situations parents will reach out to us to try and help their adult child with a drug problem.  Many people who are desperate for help will simply surrender themselves to the court system with the hope that the system will work for them. While this may seem logical it will almost always result in a better opportunity for success if the person has the help of an experienced attorney who can take advantage of the best opportunities for that particular client, try to avoid certain pitfalls that cause failure in the legal system and to act as an advocate for the general needs and issues of that unique client.  Addiction is not simple and no two people have exactly the same problems. Complicate that by the fact that Oakland County is different from Macomb County which is different from Wayne County and then mix in the unique personalities and beliefs of every single judge you will be dealing with. Thorough thought on this issue will make clear the benefit of having an attorney that knows what they are doing to guide you through the process of your drug possession or delivery/manufacture of controlled substance charge in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb County.    

Delivery or Manufacture of Drugs Under Michigan Law

Michigan law, as we mentioned above, also has various offenses related to the delivery or manufacture of drugs, including but not limited to:

  • Delivery or manufacture of Schedule I Controlled substances -marijuana, heroin, LSD, and ecstasy;
  • Delivery or manufacture of a Schedule II Controlled Substances – methadone (Dolophine®), hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), oxycodone, meperidine(Demerol®), fentanyl, morphine, opium, codeine, methylphenidate (Ritalin®), hydrocodone, methamphetamine, amphetamine (Adderal®), and pentobarbital;
  • Delivery or manufacture of a Schedule III Controlled Substances – products containing not more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with Codeine®), and buprenorphine (Suboxone®)
  • Delivery or manufacture of steroids;
  • Delivery or manufacture of ephedrine; and
  • Delivery or manufacture of a counterfeit prescription.

Possession charges can occur in addition to charges related to the delivery or manufacture of drugs. You can face additional penalties for convictions of possession and intent to manufacture or deliver drugs.

Seek Advice from a Michigan Drug Offense Lawyer

If you are facing drug-related charges in Oakland County, Macomb County or Wayne County, it is important to have an aggressive Michigan drug defense lawyer on your side to fight these charges. Contact the law office of Paul J. Tafelski for more information about how we can assist with your defense.

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  • Bloomfield Hills, MI Office

    2525 S. Telegraph Rd. Suite 100
    Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302
    Phone: 248-221-1060
    Fax: 248-456-8470