If you are charged with a first offense of possession of marijuana in Michigan, this article explains what you can expect.
In Michigan marijuana is both legal and illegal. The Michigan voters decided that marijuana should be legal for medicinal use. However, the law has not quite changed to make it legal for recreational use. Until then, even possession of the smallest amount of marijuana, without a legal right to do so, can lead to criminal charges. A possession of marijuana conviction can have long-lasting effects on financial aid for college, a driver’s license, employment, elimination nursing programs, etc.
Since a possession of marijuana conviction can have long-lasting effects on your life it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you through the legal process. The attorney may be able to keep the criminal off of your criminal history and driving record.
Depending on the amount of marijuana that you possess you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. This article though specifically is intended for those who have been charged with a first offense possession of marijuana.
The following describes the types of possession charges as well as possible penalties.
Possession of Marijuana (misdemeanor)
Possession of a small amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor. If you possess a small amount for personal “use” the following penalties apply:
- Possession of Marijuana – Misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of up to 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $2000.00. A conditional dismissal is possible. Driver’s license sanctions
- Use of Marijuana – Misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of 90 days and a $100.00 fine.
- Possession of Narcotics Paraphernalia – misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of up to 90 days and jail with a fine
Possession of Marijuana Defenses
There are some defenses that apply to a possession of marijuana charge. First, the law has carved out an exception if you are current valid Michigan Marijuana License holder. If you have a valid card you may have the charge dismissed. This defense depends on the particular facts of the case.
Another defense is based upon Fourth Amendment violations. Specifically, if the police did not follow the law when they conducted a search and seizure, the evidence seized as a result of an illegal search can be suppressed. If the evidence is suppressed, the case is usually dismissed.
We have been very successful with 4th Amendment arguments. We have successfully challenged search warrants, traffic stops, pat downs, searches of purses, homes, cars, etc. In a case in Rochester Hills (Oakland County), for example, we successfully argued that two search warrants were invalid and the police went beyond the scope of the warrants when they conducted their search of a home. The court suppressed the evidence of 50 marijuana plants because the police did not follow the law.
In another case, I had written a motion and brief arguing that the police detained a client unreasonably long on the side of the road to wait for a drug dog to perform a canine sniff of the car.
In essence, we really love the challenge of a Fourth Amendment argument.
A Fourth Amendment argument is based on the facts. In order to determine if a Fourth Amendment argument is possible in your case, we have to discuss the facts with you. We also need to review any police reports and search warrants if applicable. The arguments require careful consideration of all relevant information. If you believe the police violated the Fourth Amendment with an illegal search and seizure we urge you to contact our office to make an appointment. On a few occasions we have successfully argued that the police violated the law in such a way that the client sued the police for civil rights violations.
Keeping a marijuana charge off of your record – First offense possession of marijuana
Keeping a first-offense possession of marijuana charge off of your record is our ultimate goal.
If there is no defense to the possession of marijuana charge, we will negotiate your case to try keep the conviction off of your record.
The Michigan Legislature has created a law that allows you to keep first offense possession of marijuana conviction off of your record. The statute is MCL 333.7411.
“7411” as is it is usually called, prevents the conviction from being placed on your driving record and criminal history. Most people do no know that drug crimes are reported on a person’s driving record. So, when a potential employer checks your driving record, the drug crime will appear. 7411 allows you the opportunity to keep the conviction off of both records.
7411 is so powerful it also applies to felony possession charges as well. You can only use this statute once. The prosecutor must agree to your use of the 7411 statute. This is why it is important to have an experienced attorney who has a good relationship with the prosecutors and courts. You definitely need an experienced Michigan defense attorney to look at all aspects of your case so that you end up with the best outcome. The ultimate goal is to keep the possession of marijuana conviction off of your records.
In order to have 7411 granted you must:
- not have been previously convicted of a drug offense
- not used 7411 in the past
- have the prosecutor agree
- be placed on probation
The law requires that you be placed on probation whether reporting or non-reporting. Probation will usually include drug testing and/or fines costs. However, if this is your first offense we can usually argue for a shorter term of probation. Once the term of probation has been successfully completed, the judge will dismiss your case. Your criminal history will show a dismissal of the criminal charge.
If you are under the age of 21 years old we would ask the court to take your case under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA). If you are granted HYTA the case is invisible to the public. This means, unlike 7411, the entire record is invisible. As stated above, under 7411, your criminal history would show a dismissal. HYTA, on the other hand, does not show in a criminal background check at all. If you are HYTA eligible, this of course, would be the preferred outcome. HYTA, under 21, is left entirely to the judge’s discretion. For those over the age of 21 but under the age of 24, HYTA is still available. However, we would need the prosecutor’s consent.
At Czarnecki & Taylor PLLC we have been successful in representing clients in Macomb, Wayne, Oakland and St. Clair counties. It is safe to say that we have handled a possession of marijuana case in every court in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb and Saint Clair counties.
You can contact our office at any time at (586) 718-2345 for a free consultation or click the link below for our website: