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Michigan Drug Charge Attorney
Drug charges are a serious matter, with heavy regulation and stiff penalties for those found guilty of violating the many state and federal drug laws enforced in Michigan. Many individuals do not realize the seriousness of possession of illegal substances and others even unintentionally get caught in charges without having any intent to violate the law.
Convictions for drug offenses can have a lasting negative effect on an individual’s life, preventing them from attaining gainful employment and placing a permanent restriction on their rights and freedoms.
Because of the seriousness of these consequences, it is vital for those facing drug charges in Michigan to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney specializing in drug cases.
The team of expert attorneys at George Law have decades of combined trial experience working with clients to ensure the best possible outcome for drug related cases. If you are being charged with a drug related offense, please contact our office today to see how we can help.
Michigan Drug Laws
Drug laws in Michigan can be harsh, with varying penalties depending on the drug possessed as well as the circumstances surrounding a drug arrest as well as any prior drug convictions the defendant may have. Under MCL 333.7403, it is specifically against the law in Michigan to possess heroin, ecstasy, LSD, cocaine, peyote, prescription medications without a valid prescription and “designer drugs” – also known as analogues. The state largely follows federal drug classification and sentencing guidelines, although it no longer prohibits the recreational possession use of marijuana.
Something to be aware of is Michigan’s “constructive possession” law, which means that drug possession charges can be filed against an individual just for being in the same place where an illegal drug is used or located. This charge can be levied even if the individual never owned or intended to use the drugs in question. While this may seem unfair, it has unfortunately resulted in many individuals unknowingly violating the drug laws of the state and in some cases ended in drug convictions.
Michigan Drug Charges and Sentences
Drug charges in Michigan have a wide variance in sentencing and fines. This variance is largely dependent on the type of substance, the amount possessed and other factors such as the circumstances surrounding the arrest. Below is a list of the most common drug charges as well as the associated penalties.
Prescription Drugs (Possession)
The punishment for possession of prescription drugs depends on the amount in possession as well as the type of substance. Possession of up to 25 grams of a Schedule II/Schedule II drug carries a jail sentence of up to 4 years with fines up to $25,000.
Prescription Drugs (Distribution)
Distribution of prescription drugs carries varying penalties depending on the type of substance and the amount in possession. The sale of a controlled substance in the State of Michigan carries a potential prison sentence of up to 40 years with possible fines up to $250,000
Possession of Marijuana is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and $2,000 in fines.
Distribution of Marijuana is punishable by up to 4 years in jail and $20,000 in fines with increasing severity for amounts over 5 kilograms.
Possession of Prescription Drugs
Penalties vary depending on the type of substance as well as the amount in possession. The possession of up to 25 grams can result in penalties of up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Distribution of Prescription Drugs
Penalties are dependent on the type of substance as well the amount possessed. Michigan is especially harsh on those convicted of distributing prescription drugs, with prison sentences of up to forty years and fines of up to $250,000.
Possession of Adderall
Adderall is considered a schedule II drug and is heavily regulated. Although it is available legally with a prescription, possession without a valid prescription is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and carries with it a fine of up to $2,000.
Distribution of Adderall
This is a felony level offense with varying levels of prison time and fines depending on the amount of adderall possessed. As an example, for those convicted of distributing an amount under 50 grams, they would be looking at a prison sentence of up to twenty years as well as a potential fine of up to $25,000.
Possession of Cocaine
Because it is a schedule II drug, those caught in possession of cocaine will be charged with a felony. The most common charge is for amounts under 50 grams, which carries with it a four year prison sentence and fines of up to $25,000. Larger quantities will carry stiffer penalties.
Distribution of Cocaine
Possession with the intent to distribute or sell is a felony that has a minimum sentence of twenty years and fines of up to $25,000 for amounts under 50 grams. Amounts over this have significantly stiffer sentencing.
Possession of Ecstasy
Considered a felony regardless of the amount possessed. A conviction carries with it a prison sentence of up to ten years as well as a fine of up to $15,000.
Distribution of Ecstasy
A felony level offense that carries with it a prison sentence of up to twenty years and fines of up to $25,000. The severity of sentencing increases substantially for amounts over 450 grams.
Possession of Methamphetamine
This is considered a felony regardless of the amount in possession. A conviction for possession of methamphetamine can result in a prison sentence of up to ten years and a fine of up to $15,000.
Distribution of Methamphetamine
This is treated very harshly in Michigan. Those convicted face a prison sentence of up to twenty years as well a fine of up to $25,000.
Convictions for heroin possession in amounts of up to 50 grams is punishable by up to four years in jail as well as $25,000 in fines. These penalties increase for larger amounts.
Possession of Analogues
Known as “Designer Drugs”, possession of analogues is considered a felony and carries with it a sentence of up to two years in prison and $2,000 in fines.
Possession of LSD, Peyote or Schedule V Substances
This is considered a misdemeanor, which carries with it a sentence of up to a year in jail and the possibility of fines up to $2,000. Sentences become harsher as the amount possessed increases.
Federal Drug Sentencing Guidelines
Federal drug classification and sentencing is complex, with a varying degrees of punishment and prison time depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. First time offenses involving simple possession normally do not see prison sentences beyond one year. However for more serious offenses such as manufacturing or trafficking, there are mandatory minimum sentences that can be extremely stiff, with prison time of potentially up to 30 years or more.
The DEA divides up illegal and restricted drugs into five schedules, which are essentially drug categories. These are organized based on the drug’s possible useful applications (or lack thereof) as well as its tendency for dependency. Below are a list of each schedule as well as the types of drugs they include. It should be noted that the State of Michigan follows this same schedule system for drug classification.
Schedule I – These are considered substances that have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Examples of this include marijuana, LSD, ecstasy and heroin. These are not drugs that can be prescribed or used in any legal way according to federal law.
Schedule II – These drugs are considered to have a high potential for abuse despite the fact that they have accepted medicinal uses. These include drugs such as cocaine, opium, oxycodone, methamphetamines and high-grade morphine. Some of these can be used with a valid prescription, although they are heavily regulated.
Schedule III – While these have less potential for abuse than Schedule I or II, they have the potential for physical and psychological dependence. Examples include ketamine, anabolic steroids, low-grade morphine and certain codeine mixtures. Like Schedule II, some of these are legally used for medical purposes.
Schedule IV – Very similar to Schedule III, substances that fall into this category have similar characteristics but have less of a risk for dependency. They include drugs such as xanax, ambien, valium, zolpidem, ativan and a host of other commonly prescribed medications.
Schedule V – These are the least dangerous of all substances in this schedule, with widespread acceptance for medical use and a very limited risk of dependency. Examples include cough syrup, lomotil, lyrica, parepectolin and motofen. Most over-the-counter medications fall within Schedule V.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How long do drug charges stay on your record?
Like other criminal convictions, these charges stay on an individual’s record for life. Although there is the possibility of expungement under certain circumstances, even expunged charges are still accessible to law enforcement.
Q. How do you fight a DUI charge for prescription drugs?
The best way to defend against a DUI charge involving prescription drugs is to clearly lay out first why the individual is in possession of said drugs, as well as why they are needed and explain the circumstances that led up to the initial arrest. It is possible that the judge will consider more lenient penalties due to mitigating circumstances.
Q. How long do police have to file drug charges?
Police must file charges within 72 hours in order to hold an individual in custody. However, the statute of limitations in Michigan is six years, so there is the possibility of receiving a charge down the road after being released from police custody.
Q. What is a conspiracy charge with drugs?
This is when two or more individuals knowingly agree to violate drug law. Drug conspiracy charges are applicable at state or federal levels, or even both depending on the law(s) violated. Generally speaking drug conspiracy charges occur as a result of the manufacture and/or intent to sell drugs as part of a criminal enterprise.
Q. How do you get drug possession charges dropped?
This is entirely dependent on the circumstances surrounding the offense. For cases involving possession of prescription medication without a prescription, this can be as simple as providing documentation or evidence that you were in fact authorized to possess said medication. For other cases, it is possible that presenting a clear case to a judge as to the reasons why you were in possession, especially emphasizing the circumstances leading up to the arrest, can sway a judge to potentially dismiss charges or explore alternative punishment.
Additionally, showing evidence that you are working to change the habits and decision making that originally led to these charges in order to avoid them in the future will help present your case in the best light possible, increasing the chances that you will have charges dismissed.
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