Heroin possession is a serious charge often accompanied by an equally serious and dangerous addiction. Across the country the news reports on the opioid epidemic affecting many people. We have seen the effects of the epidemic first-hand in criminal cases. In many instances, prescription pill abuse often leads to heroin use. People turn to heroin because it is much cheaper to purchase than Vicodin. We agree with the courts that doctors over-prescribe prescription pills. For some, that is where the addiction starts. Prescription medication is very often the catalyst for heroin addiction.
Our law firm has represented many clients charged with heroin possession in Macomb County. We have seen the drastic effect that a heroin addiction and a heroin possession charge has on an individual and their families. Heroin addiction is devastating.
It is unfortunate that a drug addiction has been criminalized. However, an alternative to an arrest exists. For example, Judge Linda Davis, of the 41B District Court in Clinton Township, the President of Families Against Narcotics (FAN), has been very active in combating heroin addiction while at the same time helping people avoid a criminal charge. Families Against Narcotics Website .
In Macomb, the program “Hope Not Handcuffs” had been created to help those struggling with addiction. Hope Not Handcuffs Program Info Rather than criminalize the addiction the program seeks to help people by allowing them to seek help without legal repercussions. The process is straightforward. A person addicted to heroin, opiates, etc. can turn himself or herself in at a police station that participates in the program. The individual can also or fill out an application at the FAN website.
When the individual arrives at the police station, the desk officer contacts someone the program to notify them that an individual is looking for help. A volunteer arrives at the police station to help the individual find a bed in a treatment program. This system is much better than criminalizing a person for an addiction. There are no arrests, only help.
If you or someone you know has a problem with heroin, our office advises that you take advantage of the program by clicking on the links contained in this article. By seeking help for an addiction you avoid the risk of being arrested for possession of narcotics, such as heroin.
Heroin Possession – Macomb County
Our Role as “Attorney”
If a person has a heroin addiction the odds are high that he or she will eventually get arrested for heroin possession in Macomb County. Heroin possession is a felony offense.
As “attorneys & counselors” we approach a heroin possession case with a multi-faceted approach. As attorneys we look for defenses to avoid the criminal conviction. First, we look to see if the police had the requisite cause to conduct a search and seizure. If the police lacked probable cause for a search, whether of a car, purse, home, etc. we may file a motion on the basis of a Fourth Amendment violation. If successful, the evidence would have to be suppressed as “fruits” of the illegal search. There are other defenses that we can pursue depending upon the facts.
If the facts show that we do not have a defense to a heroin possession charge, we will make earnest efforts to negotiate the case to avoid the conviction. If a person does not have a prior drug crime on his or her record, under most circumstances, our office can negotiate a plea deal where the conviction will not be placed in the person’s criminal history.
Two key ways to keep the heroin possession charge off of a person’s record is by using the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) or MCL 333.7411 (7411). HYTA is a statutory provision of law that applies to youthful offenders charged with crimes that occur when the offender is at least 17 years old but before age the age of 21. The court has the discretion to grant HYTA in this age range even if the prosecutor objects. If, however, the person is 21 years old but under 24, the prosecutor must agree to the HYTA status. If HYTA status is granted, the youthful offender’s case will become invisible. The offender will be placed on a term of probation. If he or she completes probation successfully the case remains invisible to the public. For those that do not know, a drug crime gets placed on a person’s driving record as well as the criminal history. HYTA avoids placement on both.
If HYTA is not available, we can pursue another beneficial statute to avoid a criminal conviction, MCL 333.7411 or “7411” for short. Like HYTA, 7411 avoids a criminal conviction on a person’s criminal history and driving record. 7411 is beneficial because the judgment of conviction is not entered as the case is deferred for a term of probation. Upon compliance with the terms of probation, the case will be dismissed. The case record becomes a non-public record. The difference between HYTA and 7411 is the following: If a criminal background check is conducted a case under HYTA, nothing will appear on the criminal history. The court is not allowed to give this information to the public if someone was to ask. If a person received 7411 status, the case will be reflected in the criminal history but the charge will show “dismissed.” Both methods result in no criminal conviction.
Our Role as “Counselor”
In combination with our role as “attorney,” at CZARNECKI & TAYLOR we also take our role as counselors seriously. If a person has an addiction we try to help the client find help through the court system and/or private counseling programs. While we are not substance abuse counselors, because of our experience with drug cases, we try to “counsel”, that is, guide a client to recovery programs.
A heroin possession charge can be interpreted as a forced intervention. The “intervention” forces an individual to confront the addiction during the case or term of probation. We want the client to get help to prevent a fatal situation. We all have seen news articles reporting on heroin overdoses. Fortunately, there are programs that help.
Most of the time, when we are retained for a heroin possession charge, family members are very active and supportive of the client. The heroin possession charge can be the moment when a person decides to get help. Family members are critical to that process. We encourage family participation. Concerned family members can drive the client to or from counseling meetings, participate in choosing in-patient treatment programs, and also monitor the client and his or her well-being. The family forms the basis of a good support group.
Through the courts, we can help get the client counseling. We can petition the court for our client’s participation in a program called “drug court.” Drug court is intensive probation requiring the client to be drug tested, participate in counseling and meetings with the court. The supervision is strict but effective. I can happily state that many of our clients have successfully completed drug court to obtain and maintain abstinence.
Moreover, because we are in the courts daily, we have established good relationships with the judges. For example, Judge Linda Davis is a good resource for information on substance abuse programs.
Medication can help the addiction
A client may qualify for the Vivatrol shot. The medication helps curb the urge for drug use. Vivitrol blocks opioid receptors in the brain for a month at a time. It helps prevent relapse on opiods. Patients must detox before starting the medication. Please see a doctor for specific information. We are not doctors and are not giving medical advice. However, this drug has been used by many of our clients to help maintain their abstinence.
CZARNECKI & TAYLOR wants to assist our clients in avoiding a felony conviction while getting help to overcome the addiction
Combating a drug addiction is one of the primary goals of the court. At times, we have been able to adjourn cases so our client could complete an in-patient treatment program. In our experience, most courts appreciate the client’s proactive approach to his or her recovery. Usually, we will have to provide the court with written documentation confirming that the client is in the program. Once the program has been completed we can finalize the case.
Heroin possession and drug addiction are very serious situations. At CZARNECKI & TAYLOR, we want to keep the heroin possession charge off of our client’s criminal history and driving record. We also want to assist our client in finding help. Fortunately, our nearly 15 years of criminal defense experience has provided us with information and contacts in the legal and substance abuse recovery systems.
We will use everything at our disposal to help you. We will work with you and your family so that, together, we can achieve the absolute best outcome.
Contact us at any time, that means, 24-7/365. We are more than willing to answer any questions. So, do not hesitate to call. Any consultation either by telephone or in our office is free. We have flexible payment plans are willing to work with you.
JAMES E. CZARNECKI II (586) 718-2345
GENEVIEVE L. TAYLOR (586) 350-6044