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Retail fraud can occur by concealing property,

by engaging in certain fraudulent activity or bypassing a checkout scanner.  

41A District Courts: Locations in Sterling Heights and Shelby Township

Criminal cases which occur in Sterling Heights, Shelby Township, Macomb Township and Utica are handled at one of the above 41A District Courts. The Shelby Township location has jurisdiction over cases that occur in Shelby Township, Macomb Township and Utica.  41A District covers a large geographical area in the County of Macomb with two court locations: 

There are numerous retail establishments and shopping corridors situated within the jurisdiction of the 41A District Courts.  In addition to Lakeside Mall, there are numerous other national retailers and big box stores located on the M-59 corridor and on major shopping corners and centers throughout Sterling Heights, Shelby Township, Utica and Macomb Township including Sam’s, Meijer, Walmart, Kmart, CVS, Home Depot, Lowes Home Improvement, Target and Kohls.

The courts, police and prosecutor will not give you legal advice!

This publication is based upon our law firm’s extensive experience practicing criminal law in the 41A District Courts. Do not hesitate to hire a lawyer to protect your rights if you are being accused or charged with a crime. The courts, police and prosecutor will not give you legal advice.

Retail Fraud is Shoplifting: Possible arrest on the spot or released and notified of a court date

The crime of shoplifting, which is called retail fraud in Michigan, is one of the most prevalent crimes that we see in both of the 41A District Courts as well as every other district court in Macomb County!

Retailers use a variety of resources to deter theft and identity shoplifters. The offense of shoplifting, or retail fraud, occurs when a person does any one of the following acts with an intention to steal property from a retail establishment:

  • Conceals property on his or her person, or otherwise, with the intent to steal.
  • Changes a price tag or label with the intent to create or cause a misleading transaction.
  • Attempts to defeat the self scanning checkout system.

After identifying a shoplifter, the loss prevention employee will obtain identification and detain the suspected party unless apprehension and detention is dangerous or met with resistance. Insofar as possible, loss prevention employees are trained to avoid confrontations which could result in personal injuries or liability to the retailer.  The shoplifter may be held in custody until a bond is posted or released and  notified of a court date in about 30 days.

Once apprehended for retail fraud, one of the following scenarios may occur:

  • The police are called to the scene and the person may be arrested, booked and released on bond until a court date is scheduled.
  • The person may be released and notified by mail once the case is within the court system.
  • The person may be issued a ticket or notice to appear in court within 10 days or on specified date.

Video Evidence of Self Scanner Fraud: Getting caught red handed is one way that shoplifters get nabbed.  Reviewing video footage of a particular customer’s shopping activity is another way that retail fraud offenders are flushed out.  If a customer is suspected of retail fraud, particularly at a self checkout scanner, a loss prevention officer may track the customer’s credit card transactions and match them up with the video of the person’s checkout activity. If the customer is seen placing items in a bag, or bypassing the checkout scanner, without paying for the items, the customer may be charged with retail fraud. The following are a few ways people steal at self checkout terminals:

  • Failing to scan items, usually of greater value (leaving them in a shopping cart).
  • Placing an item in a bag or in the bagging area without scanning it.
  • Creating confusing to distract store employees.

Multiple charges may be levied against a single customer if the video evidence reveals several illegal transactions. The transactions may be combined to charge an individual with multiple crimes or the separate transactions may be consolidated to elevate the crime to a felony if the amount involved is $1,000.00 or more.

The evidence in a retail fraud case will consist of the police report, any witness statements, confession of the accused party and any photographic or video evidence of the incident. Employees and loss prevention officers of the retail establishment will be asked to cooperate with the prosecutor and the court system in later proceedings against the accused party.

Penalties for Retail Fraud: Criminal Record, Possible Deportation

Retail fraud in the first degree is a felony. Retail fraud in the second and third degree are misdemeanors. Retail fraud is a crime of dishonesty which could result in a permanent criminal record if not handled by an experienced retail fraud lawyer. Retail fraud is also considered a crime involving moral turpitude which can result in deportation for non US citizens. Thus, a person who faces retail fraud charges should hire a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can provide invaluable sound legal advice and a strategy which could keep result in a dismissal of the offense, depending upon the circumstances and the prior criminal record of the offender.  The penalties for retail fraud are:

  • Retail Fraud First Degree: If the value of the merchandise is $1,000.00 or more, up to 5 years in prison and/or fine up to $10,000.00, or 3 times the value of merchandise.
  • Retail Fraud Second Degree: If the value of the merchandise is $200 but under $1,000.00, up to 1 years in jail and/or fine up to $2,000.00, or 3 times the value of merchandise.
  • Retail Fraud Third Degree: If the value of the merchandise is under $200,up to 93 days in jail and/or fine up to $500.00, or 3 times the value of merchandise.

Michigan Law provides that a person who commits an act for which he or she could be charged with retail fraud is liable to the merchant for the full retail price of un-recovered property or recovered property that is not in salable condition, and civil damages of 10 times the retail price of the property, but not less than $50.00 and not more than $200.00.

In addition, the court can order restitution at the time of sentencing. Restitution is compensation for a victim’s losses.

Retail Fraud Cases DISMISSED!

You are not alone if you facing a shoplifting charge. Some of our clients say that they are happy when they got caught because it (shoplifting) was getting out of control. Others do not have a history of shoplifting but committed the offense on an impulse or desperation. Having a lawyer by your side is your best bet to insure that your rights are protected and to avoid saying the wrong thing that can hurt your case in the legal system. Don’t convince yourself that you can outsmart the legal system.  First of all, based upon our experience handling retail fraud cases in the 41A District Courts, 100% of of first time retail fraud offenders are eligible for

If you are charged with a first offense for retail fraud, a disposition for a dismissal is a realistic goal. Based upon our experience, more than 95% of all retail fraud cases are resolved without a trial. There are several provisions of law which we can use to get a retail fraud case case dismissed including: 

  • HYTA allows youthful offenders to get a dismissal and the record sealed from public view.
  • Juveniles, age 17 or under, may be eligible for consent calendar to get a criminal charge dismissed, sealed and with no record created.
  • Adult offenders may be eligible to get a retail fraud deferred and dismissed under a special provision of law.
  • For aliens (non US citizens), our goal is to get the charge amended to a non-deportable offense.

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Detroit 

The City of Detroit is amid major economic growth.   Detroit’s growth includes a real estate boom, renovations of historic structures, updated infrastructures and housing developments.  The downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods are experiencing an influx in population which is likely to continue for several years to come.  The City of Detroit is also attracting visitors for entertainment and tourism from the suburbs, Canada, other states and countries. Places like the Eastern Market, Greektown, Midtown, Little Caesars Arena, Fox Theatre, Belle Isle, the DIA casinos, festivals, concerts and restaurants have become major attractions in the City of Detroit.  In addition, all of Detroit’s professional sports teams (Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, Pistons) have returned to downtown Detroit.

There are many dimensions to the City of Detroit. Detroit is known for its hard working and hard partying people. It is also a devoted sports town. Detroit is uniquely situated geographically with an international border shared with the Country of Canada which is divided by the Detroit River and accessible by crossing the Ambassador Bridge or Detroit/Windsor Tunnel . Detroit has 3 major casinos and hosts the International Auto Show each year.  The Covid-19 pandemic has been a game changer but Detroit has endured the worst pandemic ever is more vibrant than ever.

36th District Court is the busiest in Michigan

The 36th District Court is by far the busiest district court in the State of Michigan. It has a single location at 421 Madison, Detroit, Michigan 48226. There are 30 judges at this location that have demanding criminal, drunk driving and traffic dockets.

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Winding up in the 36th District Court can be an intimidating place without the guidance of an attorney. Dealing with security on the main floor, locating your court room and attempting to discuss your case with the prosecutor can be overwhelming and sometimes futile. By saying the wrong thing without proper representation, you could wind up having your case scheduled for jury trial and miss an opportunity to get out of the system.  If you find yourself in this position, getting experienced 36th District Court defense attorneys is crucial to navigate you through this major urban court system. Here are a few things that you should know up front about the 36th District Court:

  • Court employees and court officers are prohibited from giving any legal advice.
  • You are not allowed to bring your cell phone into the court building.
  • You will be required to appear for an arraignment and will be unable to make any progress without an attorney.
  • You will be required to appear for a pretrial conference if you are unable to resolve your case at the arraignment.
  • Your case will be handled by either the Wayne County Prosecutor or Detroit City Attorney for purpose of negotiations, plea bargaining and trial.
  • You will be required to pay all fines and costs on the date of your sentence.

Most prevalent crimes handled at the 36th District Court

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and  felony crime in the 36th District Court. The following is list of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on 36th District Court’s docket:

What to expect at a bond hearing in the 36th District Court

If you are arrested or arraigned for a criminal matter in the 36th District Court, you will appear before either a magistrate or judge.  Insofar as possible, it is always advisable to have an attorney present for arraignment purposes. An attorney can make a considerable difference at an arraignment hearing by advocating for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. In addition to the cash component of bond, the Court can also impose bond conditions upon a person’s release from jail. Drug and alcohol testing are common bond conditions for those charged with any crime involving drugs or alcohol. A ‘no-contact order‘ is assured in assault cases, domestic violence, sex crimes and all other crimes involving a victim. In retail fraud cases, the accused party may be instructed to refrain from entering the establishment where the alleged shoplifting occurred. A motion for a hearing can always be filed to modify bond conditions, remove a no-contact order or eliminate travel restrictions.

Crime classification: Misdemeanor or Felony

Misdemeanor or Felony Classification: In Michigan, the district courts have full jurisdiction to dispose of misdemeanors through sentencing. A misdemeanor is classified as an offense that carries up to 1 year in jail.  A felony is classified as a crime that can carry more than 1 year in jail. A felony case is initiated in the district court for the arraignment, probable cause conference and preliminary examination. A felony that is not resolved in the district court will be moved to the circuit court for further proceedings. In certain cases, a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor and can remain in the district court. . Accomplishing reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor, thus avoiding a felony conviction, is considered a huge victory. 

Economic and property crimes: Larceny, embezzlement, retail fraud and malicious destruction of property to name a few, are all crimes where the classification (felony or misdemeanor) and potential punishment is dependent upon the amount of property loss. For most property crimes, if the amount involved in $1,000.00 or more, it is classified as felony.

Case results in the 36th District Court

The outcome of a criminal case in the 36th District Courts is dependent upon many components.  The most significant factors that can have a bearing on the disposition of a case are:

  • Prior criminal history of the accused party.
  • Cooperation with the police.
  • Whether another party was injured, or property was damaged.
  • The ability of the accused party to provide restitution for damages to the injured party.
  • Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children

All these special provisions of law are possible in the 36th District Court which can result in the ultimate dismissal of a criminal matter:

Even individuals that have a prior criminal record will be given respect and consideration for plea deals to get a dismissal under certain circumstances.

Non-Resident or Canadian: If you reside outside of Michigan, consider getting an attorney that is experienced with the 36th District Court system and will provide you with efficient representation.

Drunk Driving Cases in the 36th District Court

Based upon 2016 statistics compiled by the Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police Precincts reported numerous drunk driving cases in the City of Detroit. Law enforcement in the City of Detroit is also provided by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police. There was a total of 11,903 injury crashes in Wayne County with 648 involving alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs. Another 183 fatality crashes were reported with 76 involving alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

1st offense drinking and driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 36th District Court. A person without any prior drinking and driving offenses can expect to get an OWI reduced to ‘operating while impaired’. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. In addition to probation, a person convicted for a first drinking and driving offense (operating while impaired) is looking at:

  • Probation for 1 year or less
  • Fines and costs approximately $1,200.00
  • Restricted license for 90 days
  • Attend an alcohol or substance abuse program (discretionary)
  • Possible drug testing, alcohol testing, AA meetings (discretionary)
  • 4 points on driving record

Super Drunk Driving: If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain for a lower offense. Super DUI convictions will result in mandatory license suspension for 45 days followed by a restricted license for a period of 320 days with the requirement of a vehicle breathalyzer ignition interlock device (BAIID). The Court can also order installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle driven by a person convicted of any drinking and driving offense, not just a Super DUI.

Repeat DUI Offender: A repeat drinking and driving offender may be looking at a longer period of probation, up to 2 years, with the possibility of some jail time.  There are many steps that we can recommend to those charged with a repeat offense to reduce the likelihood of incarceration in almost every court.

Third Lifetime DUI = Felony: DUI 3rd is a felony/with a maximum penalty of 1-5 years in prison.  Felony matters begin in the district court and can remain in the district court for purpose of sentencing and probation ONLY if reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are handled in the Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination. Click here for more information on felony procedure.

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Social Security, Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income

Social Security benefits are paid to eligible individuals that have attained the minimum retirement age, 62 or older. To be eligible for Social Security, an individual must have the requisite number of credits. Social Security credits are calculated based on an individual’s earnings and number of working years. A person is required to have 40 credits which are earned over a period of 10 year period. A person can earn no more than 4 credits a year. In 2021, a person may earn one Social Security or Medicare credit for every $1,470 in covered earnings each year. A person must earn $5,880 to get the maximum four credits for the year. The amount of earnings it takes to earn a credit may change each year.

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are paid to individuals that have earned the required amount of credits for Social Security but have not reached the minimum retirement age and have become disabled.

Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) is a Federal program which is not funded by Social Security taxes. It provides monthly benefits to individuals to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. The base monthly federal amount varies depending on your living arrangement and income.

Social Security Benefits are Suspended During the Months of Imprisonment

Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are not payable during the months that an individual is imprisoned for conviction of crime. All benefits, except Medicare and Medicaid, are suspended upon imprisonment for more than 30 continuous days.  Benefits can be reinstated starting with the month following release from any further incarceration. Although you can’t receive monthly Social Security benefits while you’re incarcerated, benefits will continue to your spouse for children that remain eligible. SSI benefits are also suspended during a period of incarceration for more than 30 continuous days.

Social Security Benefits are Resumed Upon Release from Jail or Prison

Social Security benefits, including SSI and disability benefits, will resume in the month that a person in released from jail or prison.  The payments will not start automatically. If benefits have been suspended,  a request must be made to have them reinstated. In addition, a copy of release documents must be obtained to facilitate coverage without any lapse.

Medicare or Medicaid Benefits 

Eligibility for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) continues without any gap in coverage while you’re in prison. On the other hand, to keep Part B (Medical Insurance) activated, monthly premiums must be paid or coverage will be terminated.  If coverage is interrupted because of incarceration and non payment of Medicare premiums, an application may be filed during the subsequent General Enrollment Period.

Avoiding Criminal Convictions and Jail

If you are charged with a crime, don’t expect the police, the prosecutor or court employees to help you. They do not represent you and unless they advise you to hire a lawyer, you may end up steering yourself into a brick wall. The good news is that most judges in the State of Michigan do not impose jail for the most prevalent crimes. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can explain how a misdemeanor or felony conviction and jail can be avoided. There are also special provisions of law to protect the rights of first time offenders and even for those with a prior criminal record.

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Find out how YOU can avoid points from going on your driving record!

Here’s why fighting every traffic ticket is a wise investment

If you look at only the cost of a traffic ticket ($150.00 to $180.00 for most civil infractions), you may think that it is cheaper just to pay it rather than hire a lawyer to fight it. The process to accept responsibility is made very easy and convenient by the the local court system. On the face of the ticket, you will be given options to pay in person or on-line. In fact, according to the National Motorists Association statistics, only 5% of Americans contest their traffic tickets.  However, paying a traffic ticket without a fight will cost you far more in the long run.  The government is not on your side and neither is your insurance company. You will be sorry very quickly if you pay a ticket without fighting it.

Here are the major disadvantages to paying a ticket without trying to fight:

  • Higher insurance premiums for 3-5 years following the incident which are far greater than the cost of a lawyer.
  • Points appear and accumulate on your master driving record.
  • The prosecutor will consider tickets that appear on your record should you contest future tickets.
  • Employers may deny or limit your use of company vehicles.
  • Getting a ticket set aside after you admit responsibility is expensive and not guaranteed.

In this publication, authored by ABDO LAW, we explain why you should fight every traffic ticket and the outcomes that can be expected in the court system if you contest a ticket with a lawyer. In addition, we describe how the insurance industry uses tickets against you to increase premiums for several years beyond the date of the ticket and why higher risk drivers (the young and elderly) should be especially diligent about their driving records. This publication is based upon our experience handling civil infractions and criminal traffic tickets for 1000’s of clients in every Macomb County district court.

What can an attorney do for me if I get a traffic ticket?

The path of least resistance, paying the ticket versus fighting it, is not economically logical. The best course of action is to fight every ticket with a skilled traffic defense lawyer. Having an attorney who knows how to negotiate traffic tickets can make a huge difference in the outcome as well as your household’s bottom line budget for the next 3-5 years. In our experience, we always leave the court system better off than we started. On a consistent basis, traffic tickets can be resolved with an advantageous outcome which will protect your driving record and save you hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of dollars per year.

Who benefits most if you pay your traffic ticket without a fight?

When you simply pay a traffic ticket without a fight, the government wins the battle because they get their full fee for the citation as originally written. However, insurance companies win the long-term war because they use the information placed on your master driving record by the government to rate and adjust your premiums for the next 3-5 years, depending on the citation.

Insurance companies use many factors to determine your insurance premiums including: your zip code, credit score, type of vehicle, and your driving record. Nerdwallet has a list of the cheapest vehicles to insure, with the Honda CR-V topping the list and several Toyota models in the top 25.

The insurance industry will use information on your driving record (accidents and tickets) and assign “insurance eligibility points” when you apply or renew your auto insurance. Insurance eligibility points are not the same as the points assessed by the Michigan Secretary of State. Insurance companies use their own point system for purpose of calculating your premiums and may deny coverage if you have more than six (6) eligibility points within the past 3 years.

Nobody from the auto insurance industry will tell you that you should hire a lawyer for every traffic ticket because it is not in their economic interest to do so. The insurance industry calculates your premiums and discounts based upon many factors with the heaviest weight placed upon your past driving record.  While your insurance company may give you a break for your first minor speeding ticket, you will not get a break for your second one or for a major traffic violation such as reckless driving (6 points), careless driving, (3 points), excessive speed violations, and several other traffic violations.

If you get a second ticket soon after paying your first ticket, getting a break in the court system is not a given. In fact, the best deals are preserved for those with the best records. You can assume that the prosecutor will have a copy of your driving record when you go to court. Some prosecutors may not make any plea bargain for those with bad records or may only offer a negligible concession.

The young and elderly take the biggest hit by just paying a ticket

As we have stated, your insurance premiums are based upon risk assessment. Unfortunately, young and elderly drivers are in the highest risk groups and face the biggest economic hits for traffic tickets. Risk rates are higher for all drivers 25 and under as well as drivers 70 and over. More than anyone, these groups need to be proactive and do everything possible to avoid getting traffic tickets and to fight any traffic tickets that occur.

What is the best resolution I can receive by fighting a traffic ticket? Avoiding points and entries on your driving record

If you have received a traffic ticket, the best outcome is a dismissal without court costs. A dismissal may occur several ways: winning at trial, the officer failing to appear for trial, or the prosecutor agreeing to this disposition. Since it is very rare for the prosecutor to agree to an outright dismissal and the outcome of a trial is uncertain, seeking a plea bargain is usually the best option for favorable resolutions of a traffic ticket. In fact, traffic tickets are similar to criminal cases and 90% or more are resolved by negotiating with the prosecutor for a plea bargain. Below is a list of the most common civil infraction violations:

  • Speeding 16-25 mph over – 4 points, 3 points on freeway
  • Speeding 11-15 mph over – 3 points, 2 points on freeway
  • Disobeyed Stop Sign – 3 points
  • Improper Passing – 3 points
  • Ran Red Light – 3 points
  • Failed to Yield – 2 points
  • Speeding 6-10 mph over – 2 points, 1 point on freeway

Short of a dismissal, the best outcome that one can hope for is to get a traffic ticket reduced down to a NON-POINT AND NON-ABSTRACTABLE offense. The Michigan Motor Vehicle Code contains certain offenses that do not carry any points and are not abstracted on your record. The offenses that we commonly utilize to avoid points and abstracted records are “IMPEDING TRAFFIC” and “DOUBLE PARKING”. We have obtained these best outcome dispositions in every Macomb County District Court. However, getting a best outcome disposition will still require you to pay an assessment of a fine, typically between $150.00 to $180.00., but these offenses will never appear on your record for insurance rating purposes.

Are traffic tickets considered criminal offenses?

Michigan law categorizes certain traffic offenses as criminal which carry points (go on your driving record), possible jail, probation and other and driving sanctions (suspension). Criminal traffic violations are usually, such as leaving the scene of an accident carry 6 points. They are abstracted on the driving record and permanent criminal record of the convicted party. Below is a list of the most prevalent criminal traffic violations:

  • Operating While Intoxicated – 6 points
  • Reckless Driving – 6 points
  • Leaving the scene of an accident – 6 points
  • Failed to Stop or Identify after Personal Injury Accident – 6 points
  • Fleeing and Eluding Officer – 6 points
  • Failure to Yield for Emergency Responder, 4 points
  • Drag Racing – 4 points
  • Passing a School Bus – 3 points
  • Disobeyed School Crossing Guard – 3 points
  • Driving While License Suspended – 2 points

 

Getting a local attorney to fight your criminal traffic violation is a wise investment to avoid  a criminal record and other harsh sanctions that are attached to criminal offenses.

CPL rights forfeited 3-8 years for criminal traffic violations: If you are convicted of a felony, you may not own or possess a firearm. If you are convicted of certain criminal traffic misdemeanors, you may lose your “concealed carry” rights. For example, Michigan Concealed Pistol License Requirements state that you cannot apply for a CPL if you’ve been convicted of reckless driving in the last 8 years.

Expungement is now allowed for criminal traffic violations: Under Michigan’s Clean Slate laws, criminal traffic violations and 1 drunk driving may be expunged.

Fighting vs Paying a Traffic Ticket: Cost-Benefit Analysis

A single traffic ticket will negatively affect your master driving record and be used by the insurance industry to calculate your automotive premium for the next 3-5 years. According to Gary Biller, President of the National Motorists Association, if you have another traffic violation conviction within that 3-5 year time period, your insurance rates can boost another 15-20%.

With the average cost to hire an attorney and fight a traffic ticket ranging from $250 to $400, you’d see the return on your attorney investment within the first 6 months on your automotive insurance rates. The actual cost to fight your civil infraction or criminal traffic violation depends on several factors such as whether someone was injured, whether real or personal property was damaged, your master criminal and driving record, whether the vehicle was insured, whether you were cooperative with the arresting police officer, etc.

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Possession or sale of drug paraphernalia is a crime in Michigan

Possession or sale of drug paraphernalia is a criminal offense in Michigan. A person may be charged with the offense “possession of drug paraphernalia” even though the person does not possess any drugs at the same time. Most items the law considers drug paraphernalia are harmless and not otherwise illegal. However, when the items are associated with past or present illegal drug use, criminal charges may be pursued.

The ramifications of a criminal record, even for a minor offense, can last a lifetime. A criminal record can have a negative impact on travel, employment, educational opportunities, loans and leases. In this article, we explain how an attorney can help you or a loved one avoid a criminal record for a drug crime.

Making the assumption that a drug paraphernalia charge is not a big deal is a big mistake.  By rushing to the courthouse to plead guilty without a lawyer, you will wind up with a criminal record. If you are facing any criminal matter, talk to a lawyer first about your options and whether there is an efficient way to out of the system clean with a clean record!

Michigan’s drug paraphernalia statute 

According to Michigan’s drug paraphernalia law, MCL 333.7451, Drug paraphernalia means any equipment, product, material, or combination of equipment, products, or materials, which is specifically designed for use in planting; propagating; cultivating; growing; harvesting; manufacturing; compounding; converting; producing; processing; preparing; testing; analyzing; packaging; repackaging; storing; containing; concealing; injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance; including, but not limited to, all of the following:

  (a) An isomerization device specifically designed for use in increasing the potency of any species of plant which plant is a controlled substance.
  (b) Testing equipment specifically designed for use in identifying or in analyzing the strength, effectiveness, or purity of a controlled substance.
  (c) A weight scale or balance specifically designed for use in weighing or measuring a controlled substance.
  (d) A diluent or adulterant, including, but not limited to, quinine hydrochloride, mannitol, mannite, dextrose, and lactose, specifically designed for use with a controlled substance.
  (e) A separation gin or sifter specifically designed for use in removing twigs and seeds from, or in otherwise cleaning or refining, marihuana.
  (f) An object specifically designed for use in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marihuana, cocaine, hashish, or hashish oil into the human body.
  (g) A kit specifically designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, or harvesting any species of plant which is a controlled substance or from which a controlled substance can be derived.
  (h) A kit specifically designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, or preparing controlled substances.
  (i) A device, commonly known as a cocaine kit, that is specifically designed for use in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing controlled substances into the human body, and which consists of at least a razor blade and a mirror.
  (j) A device, commonly known as a bullet, that is specifically designed to deliver a measured amount of controlled substances to the user.
  (k) A device, commonly known as a snorter, that is specifically designed to carry a small amount of controlled substances to the user’s nose.
  (l) A device, commonly known as an automotive safe, that is specifically designed to carry and conceal a controlled substance in an automobile, including, but not limited to, a can used for brake fluid, oil, or carburetor cleaner which contains a compartment for carrying and concealing controlled substances.
  (m) A spoon, with or without a chain attached, that has a small diameter bowl and that is specifically designed for use in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing controlled substances into the human body.
Making it a priority to know how these items can be used to facilitate drug use may help a parent or friend to recognize that a loved one is abusing drugs. If you or a loved one is facing a criminal case for possession of drug paraphernalia, or any other drug crime, getting a lawyer to fight for dismissal should also be a high priority.

Defending Drug Paraphernalia Cases

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a crime which is classified as a misdemeanor. In Michigan, misdemeanor cases such as possession of drug paraphernalia, are handled in the district courts. There are 9 district courts in the county of Macomb as follows:

Possession of drug paraphernalia does not belong on your criminal record. Even if you do not have a drug abuse problem, you will have a hard time convincing others that may have access to your record. There are many neat and efficient ways to resolve possession of drug paraphernalia in the Macomb County District Courts to get it DISMISSED. The following provisions of law are widely used to get eligible crimes DISMISSED:

  • Consent calendar (age 17 and under): A name given for a juvenile disposition that results in NO RECORD and NO CONVICTION
  • HYTA (age 18 but before age 26): The HYTA statute is only available for youthful offenders to get eligible criminal matters DISMISSED with NO PUBLIC RECORD.
  • Deferral: A deferral is typically used pursuant to MCL 771.1 to allow a person to earn a dismissal or other leniency after a period of compliance. At the end of the period (1 year for example), which is known as the deferral period, a criminal matter is subject to leniency, dismissal or reduction of the charge(s).

What if drugs are found by the police along with drug paraphernalia

Possession of drug paraphernalia rarely happens by itself and it often accompanied with other criminal charges, such as possession of illegal drugs and maintaining a drug house. Drugs are classified from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5. Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine. All Schedule 1 drug possession crimes are felonies which can carry long term imprisonment and substantial fines. Most drug possession crimes are felonies requiring criminal felony representation. The penalties for illegal “possession” of drugs are as follows:

  • Possession of heroin and cocaine can carry up to 4 years in prison and up to a $25,000.00 fine.
  • Possession of ecstasy and methamphetamine can carry up to 10 years in prison and up to a $15,000.00 fine.
  • Possession of analogues (Xanax, Adderall) without a valid prescription can carry up to 2 years in prison.

Getting a local experienced Macomb County drug crime attorney is a good first step if you are looking to get your drug charges dismissed. MCL 333.7411 is specifically meant to be used for any misdemeanor or felony drug crime involving “use or possession” of drugs, but not for drug crimes involving “delivery or manufacturing”. We can also consent calendar, HYTA and MCL 771.1 to get a drug crime dismissed or reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Search without a warrant based upon plain view or consent

Drug paraphernalia and drug crimes are almost always based upon a search and seizure that is conducted by the police. A search of a person or motor vehicle requires the police to have a warrant or other legal grounds to conduct a search without a warrant. A warrant is not required if something is in “plain view” or if the police obtain voluntary “consent” to conduct a search by someone with proper authority. In order to conduct a consent search, the person whose property is being searched must voluntarily waive his or her Fourth Amendment rights. However, the police do not always follow the rules when conducting a consent search.  A consent search can be fought on the grounds that the police used unfair tactics or threats to get consent. Continue reading ›

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Over 20,000 drug crime incidents each year in Michigan

Drugs are classified according to schedules in the Michigan Controlled Substance Act. The Controlled Substance Act labels the most dangerous and addictive drugs as Schedule 1 narcotics. Drug crimes and their corresponding penalties are also found in the Michigan Controlled Substance Act and the Michigan Penal Code. The penalties for drug crimes vary depending upon the drugs involved and whether the offender was involved in delivery, trafficking, manufacturing, possession or merely using drugs. Delivery and manufacturing Schedule 1 narcotics carry the greatest drug crime penalties. This publication is dedicated to the topic of drug crimes in Michigan and covers some of the most frequently asked legal questions with respect to drug crimes:

  • What are the penalties for a drug crime?
  • Can my drivers license be  suspended for a drug crime?
  • When can the police search my vehicle?
  • Can a case be dismissed if someone else is willing to take the rap in the court system?
  • Should I do undercover work (snitch/cooperate) if I am facing a drug crime?
  • Can I be charged with maintaining a drug house if I was in my car?
  • Do I lose my rights to possession a firearm if I am convicted of a felony drug crime
  • Do I lose my rights to Carry a Concealed Pistol (CPL) if I am convicted of a misdemeanor drug crime?
  • How does the law “7411” help me if I am charged with a drug crime?

Drug problems do not discriminate and we all know someone very close to us that has struggled with a drug problem. In our experience, the Macomb County Courts have long adopted a philosophy and culture to foster rehabilitation and not to punish someone for a drug crime. 

Throughout Michigan, there are over 20,000 criminal drug violations of the the Controlled Substance Act each year. This does include thousands of other incidents for theft crimes, gun crimes and violent crimes related to drug use and addiction. The Metro-Detroit region, consisting of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties has the highest number of drug crimes based upon Michigan State Police Statistics.  We base this article on our firm’s experience defending client’s charged with misdemeanor and felony drug crimes in the Macomb County District Courts:

If you are being charged or investigated for a drug crime, do not hesitate to contact an attorney that specializes in criminal law for guidance. Drug crimes are often management and and can be resolved with no jail and a dismissal of the original criminal charge(s). The most important things that the prosecutor and court will consider is whether someone is maintaining abstinence and involved in substance abuse treatment:

  • In-patient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment or an intensive outpatient program
  • Passing drug tests
  • Attending AA/NA meetings or other support group

More drug crimes involve prescription medications: MAPS allows law enforcement to track prescribed medications

Marijuana is legal for recreational purposes in the same way as alcoholic beverages and it is no longer a crime to possess or use marijuana. However, a high number of the drug crimes that we handle in the Macomb County Courts are for illegal possession of prescription medications. Unfortunately, various pain and psychotropic drugs can be obtained on the streets or very close to home. It is a felony for a person to possess a prescription medication that does not match up to a valid prescription. The excuse that your grandma left her prescription in your car will not work and you can face felony drug charges for having someone else’s prescribed medications in your possession.

Michigan has a system known as the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS). MAPS is a prescription monitoring program used to track controlled substances, schedules 2-5 drugs. It is a tool used by prescribers and dispensers to assess patient risk and is also used to prevent drug abuse. The MAPS system is also widely used by law enforcement agencies.

Drug crime penalties: Use, Possession, Delivery, Possession with Intent to Deliver

Again, this publication is packed full of useful information regarding drug crimes .  First of all, the seriousness of a drug crime will depend upon its classification in the Controlled Substance Act. All drugs in Michigan are classified from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5 pursuant to MCL 333.7212 of the Michigan Public Health Code. The breakdown of drugs into schedules is based upon the drug’s potential for abuse/addiction. Schedule 1 drugs, such as heroin and methamphetamine, are considered the most dangerous/addictive/abusive and carry the harshest criminal penalties. In addition to drug classifications, Michigan laws breakdown drug crime penalties based upon the type of conduct associated with drugs. Activity that involves delivery/trafficking drugs carries bigger penalties than merely possessing or using drugs.

Penalties for Delivery or Possession with Intent to Deliver Drugs: The most serious drug crime criminal penalties are reserved for offenders convicted of delivery, or trafficking, drugs. All drugs crimes associated with delivery, or possession with intent to deliver,  are felonies.

Ecstasy/MDMA

Methamphetamine

Heroin

Cocaine

Oxycodone

Analogues, Adderall, Xanax

LSD

Psilocybin

Felony

Felony

Felony

Felony

Felony

Felony

Felony

Felony

Felony

 

Maximum Penalty

20 years, $25,000 fine

20 years, $25,000 fine

20 years, $25,000 fine

20 years, $25,000 fine

4 years, $25,000 fine

7 years, $10,000 fine

2 years, $2,000 fine

2 years, $2,000 fine

 

Just because someone is charged with a drug crime that contains the  element of “delivery” does not mean that they face jail or become a convicted felon. If you find yourself in this position, it is wise to contact a local criminal defense lawyer for guidance and a plan to fight the case and avoid a conviction for drug trafficking.

Penalties for Possession of Drugs (not involving delivery): Possession of illegal drugs can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending upon the classification of the drug(s) involved.

Drug Crime

Possession Ecstasy

Possession Meth

Possession Heroin

Possession Cocaine

Possession Oxycodone

Possession Analogues

Possession LSD

Possession Psilocybin

Possession Parphernalia

Classification

Felony

Felony

Felony

Felony

Felony

Felony

Misdemeanor

Misdemeanor

Misdemeanor

Maximum Penalty

10 years, $15,000 fine

10 years, $15,000 fine

4 years, $25,000 fine

4 years, $25,000 fine

4 years, $25,000 fine

2 years, $2,000 fine

1 year, $2,000 fine

1 year, $2,000 fine

1 year, $2,000 fine

Other drug crime links:

“Possession of drugs” link

“Analogue drugs” link

Other important drug crime provisions of law

A drug crime conviction will result in license suspension. An individual convicted of a felony drug crime will not be able to own or possess a firearm. However, there are special provisions of law that we can use to get drug crimes dismissed as we explain in more detail below.

  • Driver’s license suspension:  There are mandatory driver’s license sanctions imposed when a person is convicted of a drug crime. For a first time drug crime conviction, driver’s license suspension is for a period 180 days with possible restrictions after the first 30 days. A second time drug crime conviction will result in mandatory suspension for a period of 1 year with possible restrictions after serving the first 60 days with no driving. License sanctions do not apply when a drug crime is resolved pursuant to HYTA or MCL 333.7411.
  • Concealed Pistol License (CPL): A person convicted of a misdemeanor drug crime will not be able to apply for a CPL for a period of three (3) years. A person convicted of any felony, including all felony drug crimes, will not be able to own or possess a firearm pursuant to both State of Michigan and Federal laws.
  • Double penalty for second drug crime conviction:  A second drug crime conviction is subject to enhancement under MCL 333.7413 with the potential for double penalty as to incarceration and fines. This can lead to harsh consequences when a person is charged with a drug crime otherwise classified as a misdemeanor, such as possession of marijuana. A second possession of marijuana conviction would constitute a felony (2 years maximum sentence) if enhanced by the prosecutor pursuant to MCL 333.7413. In our experience as criminal and drug crime defense lawyers, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office does not hesitate to utilize the double penalty provision when charging for repeat drug crimes.
  • MCL 333.7411: Disposition of a drug crime pursuant to MCL 333.7411 will result in a dismissal of the drug crimes for eligible first offenders. 7411 only applies to drug crimes that involve “possession” or “use“.  7411 does not apply to any drug crimes involving the activity of manufacturing or delivery. In addition, 7411 may be only used once in a person’s lifetime.
  • HYTA: Disposition of a drug crime pursuant to HYTA results in a dismissal of the drug crime with no public record of the proceedings. HYTA allows youthful offenders to get many types of criminal charges dismissed upon successfully completing probation.
  • Expungement: Almost every drug crime, except for the most serious, are eligible for expungement.

There is no need to get an expungement of a case that is resolved pursuant to MCL 3333.7411 or HYTA because there is no adjudication of guilty with these dynamic provisions of law.

Legal grounds to search a person or vehicle without a warrant

The police may not conduct a search without a valid search warrant or legal grounds to conduct a search without a warrant.  

Based upon Michigan laws, a search may occur without a warrant under these circumstances:

  • Plain view:  Objects found in plain view are subject to seizure without any further justification provided that the law enforcement officer has acted legally.
  • Consent:  The police do not need a warrant or probable cause to search a person or vehicle if they obtain the consent of the party.
  • Smell of drugs: The Michigan Supreme Court has held that the smell of something illegal is like plain view and have said “plain smell”, can justify a search of a car without a warrant.
  • Search incident to an arrest:  If criminal conduct is discovered following a traffic stop, such as a person driving on a suspended license, the police may conduct a search of the person and an inventory search of the vehicle incident to the arrest. (Driving on a suspended license (DWLS) is a crime, not a civil infraction.

YouTube Video, I Don’t Consent to Searches:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kVX6NIPzB0

Police don’t always play fairly and use plain view and/or consent to accomplish a search without a warrant.

We know the police often say that drugs or other illegal property is in plain view when it is actually well hidden and not in plain view. Seldom are there sufficient grounds to prove an illegal search unless there is a witness or video of the police misconduct. Consent searches are also an area of contention that sometimes demand a closer look especially when consent is obtained based upon coercion or threats. Some tactics used by the police to get a party’s consent:

  • Threat to obtain a search warrant.
  • Threat to get the K-9 dogs to sniff out the dope.
  • Claim by police that person or car smells like marijuana but want to obtain consent as a second means to validate a search.

HELP: I did not have drugs in my possession but the police charged me with possession!

In the eyes of the law, there is such a thing as being at the wrong place at the wrong time. When the police find marijuana or other illegal property in a vehicle, they may opt to charge only one party, or every party/occupant that can be said to be in “possession” or control of the property.

Actual possession:  A person caught red handed with marijuana hidden in his clothing (pocket, bra) is in actual possession and would have a hard time proving otherwise.

Constructive possession:  Constructive possession means a person had knowledge of the substance and an ability to control it. This differs from actual possession and would encompass situations where drugs are not found on a person but in an area within his control. For example, assume the police find marijuana or drugs in what we call a “common area” (under a passenger seat, ashtray or on the floor). In these scenarios, the police may charge every occupant with possession under the theory of “constructive possession”.

One person willing to take the blame:  In other drug cases that wind up in the system, we may have a single party that is willing to take the rap for others. Under the circumstances, the prosecutor can still argue joint possession or that the party taking the blame lacks credibility.

Should I do cooperate with the police/provide undercover work if I am facing drug charges or get a lawyer and go with the court option?

The police may offer leniency or some concession on the drug charges in exchange for cooperation, or what is commonly known as snitching. Undercover drug operations are dangerous and a favorable deal by the police is not assured. Furthermore, undercover activities are often done outside of the court system and without the protection of a lawyer.

The advice of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is crucial when confronted with this option. Engaging in undercover drug deals is not within the comfort zone of most of our Macomb County suburban clients. In fact, our clients have chosen the court option as opposed to snitching more than 90% of the time. In addition, clients have retained our firm following a frustrating episode of cooperation/snitching.

What does it mean if I am charged with maintaining a drug house?

The prosecutor can raise the stakes on mere drug possession charges by adding an additional serious criminal charge known as “maintaining a drug house” when a person:

Knowingly maintains a store, shop, warehouse, dwelling, building, vehicle, boat, aircraft, or other structure or place that is frequented by persons using controlled substances in violation of this article for the purpose of using controlled substances or that is used for keeping or selling controlled substances.

Maintaining a drug house is considered a high court misdemeanor in Michigan that punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or a fine of not more than $25,000.00, or both. For many purposes, it is viewed as a felony because the punishment consequence is greater than 1 year.

Continue reading ›

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What does it mean to provide cooperation, snitch or be an informant for the police?

Cooperation, using the little fish to get the big fish, is a major law enforcement tactic utilized everywhere and every day in the United States to gain information that would otherwise be next to impossible to obtain. This practice is also used extensively in the County of Macomb as a means to frustrate illegal drug activity. An offer to cooperate can arise during a criminal investigation or following an arrest or at any stage of a criminal case.

The concept of “cooperation” with the police (also called “snitching” or “acting as an informant”) occurs when the police utilize an individual to obtain information that would otherwise be difficult to discover.  Those asked to provide cooperation are usually in trouble with the law (busted for a drug crime) and are promised consideration in the legal system in return for providing assistance. Assistance is expected to be substantial and typically involves undercover work with narcotics agents or special units. The informant is rarely advised of his or her rights and other options. The informant may later be required to testify as a witness in subsequent court proceedings unless given protection as a confidential informant (CI).

The use of informants by the government has existed for more than a 1,000 years and remains widely used today by the government and the police to:

  • Make other busts, raids, seizures,
  • Support an arrest or search warrant
  • Bolster connections to infiltrate criminal enterprise(s),
  • Flush out targets or bigger fish, and,
  • Make progress in an investigation that is stuck in the mud.

Getting into Something that is Over Your Head

As we explain in this publication, cooperation or snitching, is a tool used by law enforcement officers to combat criminal activity and is most often associated with drug crimes.  Cooperation with the police is seldom ever considered because drug crimes, especially for first offenders, can be resolved with excellent results in most cases without working with the police. In addition, you need the advice of an attorney to explain your legal rights and all of the possible risks associated with cooperation, including the following:

  • Your safety is not assured
  • Your assistance may be declared insufficient by the police
  • Criminal charges may still be pursued against you
  • Cooperation ends when the police say it ends
  • Cooperation may require engaging in bigger drug deals than justified under the circumstances to get a deal in the legal system

Cooperation (snitching) is usually arranged while the accused person is caught red handed while engaged in illegal activity or in police custody for a criminal offense. Unfortunately, the police may use these scenarios as opportunities to take advantage of the situation by threatening prosecution or by persuading the party with incentives to cooperate that include: immediate release from jail and consideration to get all criminal charges dropped. Upon being released from jail, the unwary person will be instructed to contact an undercover officer for further instructions and discouraged from contacting a criminal defense lawyer. An individual that immediately chooses this route is placing his or her trust with the same law enforcement officers that will be testifying for the prosecution should criminal charges later be pursued.

What the Police Won’t Tell You about Cooperation Can Hurt You

The police are not required to give legal advice or explain every other possible option when attempting to engage an individual to become an informant.  The police will not tell you that your case can be worked out without cooperation or that an attorney can fight the case if it is based upon an illegal search. Here are just a few other legal rights that you forego when you agree to cooperate with the police:

In addition to the above, the police won’t tell you that most drug crimes are manageable in the court system with the services of a criminal defense lawyer. Scare tactics are not uncommon as a means to harvest an informant who is lead to believe that there is no hope in the legal system without providing cooperation.  In fact, the majority of offenders are not looking at jail, may be eligible to get a felony reduced to a misdemeanor and have other excellent options to get the charge(s) dismissed pursuant to MCL 333.7411 or HYTA without providing any cooperation whatsoever to the police!

Cooperation in the Federal Court System

Federal criminal prosecutions are handled in a much more formal manner. In the Federal court system, the issue of cooperation is much different than what we see at the state court level. In the Federal system, special formalities and agreements exist. They involve both the District Attorney and at least one law enforcement agency; usually the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In the Federal arena, cooperation is prevalent and can be a factor to avoid a mandatory minimum sentence. The following language is contained within a Federal Plea and Cooperation Agreement:

“If the defendant commits any crimes or if any of the defendant’s statements or testimony prove to be knowingly false, misleading, or materially incomplete, or if the defendant otherwise violates this Plea and Cooperation Agreement in any way, the government will no longer be bound by its representations to the defendant concerning the limits on criminal prosecution and sentencing as set forth herein.”

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Drug crimes in Michigan dismissed pursuant to 7411 law

Illegal drug possession penalties

The Controlled Substances Act is a system used in the United States to classify illegal drugs (heroin) and pharmaceutical medications (Xanax, Adderall, Vicodin, Norco) according to their chemical make-up, addictive side effects and potential for abuse. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are empowered with classifying various drugs. Drugs classified under Schedule I and Schedule II are considered to be the most dangerous and carry the harshest criminal penalties.  Michigan’s drug laws follow the Controlled Substance Act classifications of drugs. In Michigan, illegal drug possession may constitute a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the substance that is involved. The penalties for drug possession crimes in Michigan are as follows:

 

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Every element of a crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt

Every crime is made up of parts that are called elements. When a person is charged with a crime, the prosecutor is saying that there is sufficient evidence to establish each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor does not always get it right.  Many criminal cases result in an acquittal because an essential element of a crime has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt. In this ABDO LAW publication, the element of “possession” is explained in relation to drug crimes.

Illegal possession of drugs may constitute a felony

Possession is a necessary element in drug crimes and property crimes (receiving and concealing stolen property). For a person to found guilty of a drug crime, the prosecutor must establish that a person intentionally and knowingly possessed the illegal drugs in question. Most drug crimes are felonies that carry serious criminal penalties which can include possible jail, substantial fines and driver license suspension:

Drug Crime Maximum Jail Maximum Fine
Possession of MDMA 10 years $2,000.00
Possession of methamphetamine 10 years $2,000.00
Possession of heroin or cocaine 4 years $25,000.00
Possession of analogues 2 years $2,000.00

 

In another article, we explain how drug possession crimes in Michigan (including all Macomb County District Courts) can be dismissed pursuant to MCL 3333.7411.

“Possession” is a necessary element in drug crimes

The term possession has different meanings in the criminal justice system. A person may be charged with possession of drugs if he or she has “actual possession” or “construction possession”. Because the term “possession” has different meanings and the potential for different interpretations, it is often the subject of legal arguments in criminal cases.

Historically, actual possession was required for a conviction of a criminal case with the element of possession. In other words, a person could not be charged with a crime unless he was “caught red handed” with the illegal property. In the 1920s era of liquor prohibition, courts expanded criminal possession to include “constructive possession”.  Constructive possession does not require an individual to have the physical possession of the illegal property.

Possession does not require ownership: Possession is not the same as ownership. Several criminal laws make it a crime to “possess” something that is forbidden or illegal.

Actual possession is what most of us think of as possession, that is, having physical custody or control of an object. Actual possession, also sometimes called possession in fact, is used to describe immediate physical contact. Frequently, a set of facts clearly indicate that an individual has possession of an object but that he or she has no physical contact with it (constructive possession). To properly deal with these situations, courts have broadened the scope of possession beyond actual possession.

Constructive possession is a legal theory used to extend possession to situations where a person has no hands-on custody of an object. Constructive possession is frequently used in cases involving drugs, guns and stolen property in Michigan criminal cases. Constructive possession, also sometimes called “possession in law,” exists where a person has the ability to control the object even if the person has no physical contact with it. For example, people often keep important papers and other valuable items in a bank safety deposit box. Although they do not have actual physical custody of these items, they do have knowledge of the items and the ability to exercise control over them.

Michigan Cases: Interpretation of constructive possession

People v Nunez (2000):  In this case, police a large stash of cocaine in a home occupied by several individuals. Although Mr. Nunez didn’t have the cocaine on his person, he was charged and convicted of possession of cocaine. The police arrived at their conclusion by observing the apartment and its contents. Mr. Nunez had a key for the apartment and stayed at the apartment most of the time. His name was also found on bills within the apartment.

People v Meshell (2005):  In this case, police observed a man emerging from a garage in which they later discovered methamphetamine. Upon entering the area, police noticed a strong chemical odor coming from the garage. Mr. Meshell was the only person in the area of the garage and when police ran his record, they discovered past issues with methamphetamine. Because Mr. Meshell had past issues with meth, it was obvious that he knew the smell. He was also the only one in the area at the time police observed him exiting the garage.

People v McKinney (2003): In this case, police entered a home and discovered a large amount of cocaine. Police found crack in drawers containing women’s clothing, and linked the drugs to Ms. McKinney because she was frequently staying at the apartment. By using the drug’s location as evidence, the police were able to successfully charge and convict Ms. McKinney of possession of cocaine.

Continue reading ›

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Drugs classified from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5 by DEA

Drugs and chemicals used to make drugs are classified into five (5) schedules depending upon the drug’s medical use and the abuse or dependency potential. The abuse rate is a major factor in the scheduling of the drug. Therefore, schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and for severe psychological and/or physical dependence. More information can be found in Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act

Schedule I: Drugs with no currently accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. Some examples are:  heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD),  ecstasy and peyote.

Schedule II: Drugs with a high potential for abuse, with potential to result in severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples are: hydrocodone (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, oxycodone, fentanyl and Adderall.

Schedule III: Drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Some examples  are: codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.

Schedule IV: Drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples are: Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien and Tramadol.

Schedule V: Drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes.

According the United States Code (21 USC 802) a controlled substance “analogue” means a substance which is substantially similar to the chemical structure of a schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance and has a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system that is substantially similar to or greater than the stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system of a controlled substance in schedule I or II.

Possession of analogues is a felony

In Michigan, the offense of possession of analogues is a felony that can carry up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.00, or both. Analogues appeal to those that can no longer get a legal prescription filled and/or have an addiction. Analogues are easily obtainable on the streets or at job sites such as construction sites. Jail and a felony conviction can both be avoided if you are charged with a drug crime such as possession of analogues. Possession of illegal drugs, including analogues and medications without a valid prescription, are all crimes that can be dismissed pursuant to MCL 333.7411.

Defenses to Drug Crimes: Lack of Possession or Knowledge

Crimes are made up of elements. The issue of “possession” is an essential element of a drug crime. You can’t be convicted of a drug crime if you did not have possession. However, a person need not have actual physical possession of a controlled substance to be guilty of possessing it.  Construction possession is another way that you can possess something and be found guilty of a crime. An experienced drug crime lawyer can advise a person charged with a drug crime as to possible defenses which may include:

  • Illegal Search and Seizure
  • Mere Presence at a place where drugs are present
  • Lack of Knowledge
  • Innocent Spouse or Passenger in Vehicle

Michigan Laws allow for dismissal of drug crimes!

In Michigan, possession of analogues is a felony which can be punished by up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.00, or both. Our firm represents a fair share of clients who are arrested or searched and the police find analogues in their possession at the time of arrest. Lately, we are seeing several cases that involve illegal possession of Xanax and Adderall. Surprising, many of our clients can verify a past medical condition or prior prescription. However, if the drugs do not match up to a current prescription, the police will charge the person with illegal possession of analogues. While old medical records and prescriptions are useful in our negotiations, in most cases they will not support an outright dismissal. In addition, it is not a defense to produce a third person’s prescription since you only have the right to possess your own medications!

There are several ways that we can get a drug crime under control. Most drug cases are felonies. Felony representation is a serious matter with a clear goal on our end of getting the felony dismissed! Fortunately, there are ways to do this and there are also ways to get a drug charge dismissed under various provisions of law in every Michigan court:

MCL 333.7411: This provision of law allows for one lifetime dismissal of a drug crime that involves possession or use, not delivery or trafficking.  A person with a prior drug crime or who has used in 7411 is not eligible for this deal.

MCL 762.11: This statute allows youthful offenders to get a drug crime, including one involving delivery dismissed and the record sealed. This provision applies to youthful offenders age 18 but before age 26.

Just about any drug crime can be managed if the offender does not have a serious criminal record and gets help for the underlying drug problem.
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