Diversion Programs and Delayed Sentences

Diversion Program

Lansing Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

When convicted of a crime, it will remain on your record forever. Usually. The good news is that not everyone has to worry about having their career or future ruined because of one bad choice or an error in judgment. The Michigan legislature has recognized that some people deserve a second chance and shouldn’t have their clean slate tarnished for every future employer to see. There are some ways you can keep a criminal conviction off your record. Some only apply to certain ages or certain offenses. These are known as diversion programs and deferred or delayed sentencing.

Diversion Programs

Diversion programs are a way for defendants to keep a criminal matter off their public record without having to plead guilty or go to trial. They are usually for low level offenses such as misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. Each court has its own criteria for diversion. There will be limits as to the types of offenses that are permitted and there may be residency requirements. The programs are usually reserved for first-time offenders. It is not an expungement, which is removing a conviction from your record after it has been on your record for a period of time. Diversion programs and delayed sentencings are better than expungements because if successful, the file is suppressed (non-public) from the beginning.

The way it works is that the prosecutor will dismiss your case without prejudice (meaning it can be re-filed) upon the contingency that you successfully complete the diversion program. Again, each court is different but it usually involves classes, fines, and community service. The length of the diversion and the types of class you participate in are determined by the type of offense. If you successfully complete diversion, the prosecutor will not re-file the charges and the matter will not appear on your public record. Diversion is frequently used for shoplifting or retail fraud, theft offenses, and sometimes non-violent felonies. An experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney that is familiar with your court should be able to tell you if you are eligible for diversion and can help you get in.

Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA)

The Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA or YTA) is a special sentencing option available to defendants who commit crimes between the ages of 17 and 24. The age requirements are strict. If you commit a crime at 12:01 a.m. on your 24th birthday, you are not eligible. Not every offense is eligible for HYTA either. Youthful Trainee Status cannot be given for any offense that has a potential life sentence (murder, armed robbery), criminal sexual conduct, a major controlled substance offense (drug dealing or possession with intent to deliver), or a traffic offense (OWI, Reckless Driving). Also, if the offense occurs between the ages of 21 and 24 the prosecutor must agree to HYTA or else the judge has no authority to grant it. Upon successful completion of your sentence, you will not have a public record of the offense. You must plead guilty in order to get HYTA, meaning you cannot receive it by pleading no contest or by being found guilty at trial. You can receive it more than once, but be wary that many judges are reluctant to give it multiple times.

7411 for First Offense Use or Possession of Controlled Substance

Under MCL 333.7411, you can receive a deferred conviction for possession of a controlled substance or use of a controlled substance. In other words, it only applies to drug use or drug possession. It cannot be given for any other controlled substance offense such as maintaining a drug house, possession with intent to deliver, etc. There is no age requirement but the caveat is it can only be granted once in your lifetime. Like HYTA, upon successful completion of your sentence (usually probation) you will not have a public record of the offense. Not only does it keep your record clean, but it prevents the mandatory driver’s license sanctions as well. You maintain a clean slate and keep your license. Unlike HYTA, you do not necessarily have to plead guilty to get 7411. You can request it if you have been found guilty at trial. However, be aware that many judges are hesitant to do so, especially if the prosecutor was agreeing not to object to your 7411 petition as an enticement for pleading guilty. It’s a risk you take.

769.4a for Domestic Violence Charges

Under MCL 769.4a, you can receive a deferred sentence for a domestic violence conviction provided that you have no prior assault convictions. Probation is the usual sentence but there could be some jail. Often you will have to take some sort of anger management classes or alcohol or drug treatment if they believe that is a problem. Like HYTA and 7411, you will have no public record of the offense if you successfully complete your sentence. Like 7411, you only get to use it once.

Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP)

For first offense MIP charges, a defendant can be granted a deferred sentence under statute, meaning he will not have a public record upon successful completion of probation which could include community service, alcohol prevention programs, and an alcohol substance abuse assessment. It can only be granted once.

Delayed Sentence

If you are eligible and the prosecutor and judge both agree, the sentence on your conviction may be delayed up to a year. In the meantime, you will be placed on probation under standard bond or probation conditions. After the year is up, you come back to court and your conviction can either be reduced to a lesser charge (misdemeanor or civil infraction) or in some cases completely dismissed, depending on what your agreement was. It is also commonly used in failure to pay child support cases.

Again, this is usually for first time offenders who are given on opportunity to show the court they are not likely to reoffend or commit crimes. You cannot get a delayed sentence for murder, treason, criminal sexual conduct in the first or third degrees, a major controlled substance offense, or armed robbery.

Michigan Sentencing Attorney

If you are charged with a crime, there may be options available to you that could keep your record clean. That means you can honestly tell future employers, colleges, and landlords that you have not been convicted of a crime. Michigan even has a law preventing employers from asking potential employees about misdemeanor convictions that have been diverted or deferred. This is something to discuss with your Michigan criminal defense lawyer if you find yourself being accused of a crime. A bad decision does not have to place an eternal scar on your record. If facing criminal charges, contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney!

 

Defending criminal charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Jackson, Shiawassee, Livingston, Kent, Washtenaw, Barry in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Brighton, Howell, Jackson, St. Johns, Ithaca, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Hastings, Corunna, Durand.

Possession of a Controlled Substance– Drug Possession

Controlled Substance Possession  Lansing Drug Possession Attorney

In Michigan, possession of a controlled substance or a prescription drug without a prescription is a crime. More commonly known as simple drug possession. The penalties vary depending on the type of drug, amount, location, and if the accused has any prior criminal drug history. As a Michigan drug possession attorney, my goal is to help you avoid jail, keep your record clean, and prevent the mandatory driver’s license suspension. Unfortunately, that is not possible in all cases.

Controlled substances are strictly regulated by the government. It includes possession of prescription painkillers, narcotics, heroin, cocaine, methadone, marijuana, and morphine. It also includes controlled substances that have legal uses, such as prescription drugs, which can get you charged with a crime if you don’t have a valid prescription for them. The most common examples are OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax, and Valium. Even substances that contain codeine and Tylenol III are included on the list.

Under Michigan law (MCL 333.7403), controlled substances are listed in five categories called schedules. Schedule I and Schedule II substances are considered the most addictive, highly dangerous, and widely abused so the punishments are more severe. The War on Drugs is a very political issue for prosecutors and law enforcement. Often in their overzealousness defendants get overcharged or charged with additional and more serious crimes such as Possession with Intent to Deliver or Maintaining a Drug House.

 

Penalties

Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II Controlled Substance

  • Less than 25 grams—four years in prison and/or $25,000 in fines
  • 25-49 grams—four years in prison and/or $25,000 in fines
  • 50-449 grams—20 years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines
  • 450-999 grams—30 years in prison and/or $500,000 in fines
  • 1,000 or more grams—Life in prison and/or $1,000,000 in fines

 

Possession of Ectasy

Possession of any amount of ectasy is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or $15,000 in fines

Possession of Analogues

Possession of Analogues or designer drugs are punishable by up to two years in prison and/or $2,000 in fines

Possession of LSD, Peyote, or any Schedule V Controlled Substance

Possession of any amount is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or $2,000 in fines

Possession of Marijuana

Possession of Marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or $2,000 in fines

Plea Bargains

If it is your first offense, most prosecutors will probably offer a reduction in the charge as an incentive to avoid trial. Possession of a controlled substance can be pled down to Use of a Controlled Substance which reduces the severity of most possession cases from a felony to a one-year misdemeanor.  The exception is use of marijuana which decreases the penalty from one year to 93 days.

Mandatory Driver’s License Sanctions

If you are convicted of any drug possession or drug use charge under Michigan law, your license will be automatically suspended by the Secretary of State. This is true even if the particular drug offense that you were convicted of didn’t involve driving. It is mandatory and automatic under statute meaning that neither the judge nor prosecutor has the authority to negotiate a sentencing agreement around it.

7411 Deferred Sentencing

If you have no previous drug convictions, you will be eligible for a special sentencing status under MCL 333.7411 or 7411 for short. The way it works is that if you enter a guilty plea and the judge grants you 7411 status, the “conviction” will not appear on your public record as long as you successfully complete probation. Not only does it keep your public record clean, but it also prevents the mandatory driver’s license sanctions as well. If eligible, you are always free to petition the court for 7411, but it is up to the judge on whether or not to give it to you. One final caveat—you only get to use it once in a lifetime.

As you can see, Michigan treats drug crimes and possession of a controlled substance very seriously. That is why you need an experienced advocate in the courtroom. The police reports must be thoroughly scrutinized to first determine if the police had legal grounds to have contact with you and then if they had probable cause to search you or to arrest you. That is always the first step in fighting any drug charge. If the police did not have probable cause to search you or arrest you, the evidence will be suppressed and your case dismissed. There may also be issues with the chain of custody for the evidence or the testing of the substance. It is important to have someone experienced in defending drug possession charges representing you every step of the way. Our goal is to help you avoid jail and keep your driver’s license if at all possible.

If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance, call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to our Michigan drug possession attorney.

Defending drug possession and drug use charges throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Shiawassee, Washtenaw, Livingston, Barry, Kent, Gratiot. Defending cocaine possession, marijuana possession, heroin possession in the cities of: Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Okemos, Haslett, Bath, St. Johns, Charlotte, Jackson, Corunna, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Brighton, Howell, Ithaca.

Controlled Substance Mid Michigan Controlled Substance Attorney

Michigan 7411 Delayed Sentence for 1st Offense Drug Crimes

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Lansing Michigan Marijuana Drug Crimes Lawyer 

 

MICHIGAN 7411

While many believe that a first offense marijuana possession results in a slap on the wrist, i.e. fines, probation, minor misdemeanor on your record, nothing could be further from the truth. There is one punishment that is overlooked or unknown– the mandatory driver’s license suspension. That’s right– you get busted with pot, or any other controlled substance, you lose your driver’s license and there’s no getting around it. For how long depends on the offense. First offense: your license is suspended for six months Second offenses: the suspension is for one year. With this harshest of penalties the legislators did decide to give a ray of light to those convicted, albeit a small one. The judge may grant you a restricted license (only drive to school, work, medical appointments, court-mandated activities) after 30 days for a first offense and after 60 days for a second offense. Notice the word may is used and not shall. That’s right, the judge doesn’t have to grant you a restricted license, although they often do.

When sentenced, some judges will even entertain your petition to have it placed into the sentencing order that you will automatically receive a restricted license after the appropriate waiting period. However, there are many judges who will make you come back and file a motion or petition for a restricted license. When it comes to drug convictions Michigan doesn’t mess around. Apparently the legislators thought that it wasn’t enough to be placed on probation and all the requirements that goes along with it, so to add a heightened inventive they decided to take your license away. The problem is that not very many people realize this until it’s too late.

Many clients ask if there is away to avoid losing their driving privileges over such a conviction as it is extremely difficult or near impossible for many people to lose their license, even if it’s only for a month or two. The problem is that it is a mandatory part of the statute that neither the judge or prosecutor can do anything about in terms of pleas or bartering. However, there is one option where this blow can be avoided but there’s a catch: it can only be used once.

Michigan has a delayed sentence option for drug use and possession crimes under MCL 333.7411 or 7411 for short. It allows those who have never been convicted of either use or possession of a controlled substance, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or second time offenders of an imitation controlled substance to plead guilty under 7411. It is only for use and possession charges and not for serious drug charges such as drug dealing, manufacturing, or maintaining a drug house. You enter a plea of guilty and the judge sentences you to probation which could include random drug and alcohol testing and completing drug classes. If you successfully complete all the requirements the judge sentences you to, then no judgment of guilt will appear on your public record. More importantly, since the judgment of guilt is never entered, the Secretary of State doesn’t impose any driver’s license sanctions either. It’s important that you meet the requirements in a timely fashion or else you run the risk of having the judge revoke your 7411 status which means it will not only appear on your public record, but you will lose your driver’s license. Remember: 7411 is a one time deal whether you succeed or not. There are no second opportunities so make sure you don’t lose it.

Even if you believe the case against you is weak, 7411 is just to good of a deal to pass up. It’s just not worth the risk of having a criminal record and losing your driver’s license when you don’t have to. If you are facing a drug possession or use charge, ask your lawyer about 7411 and he will be able to tell you if you’re eligible and can petition the judge if you are eligible.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to plead guilty to get 7411 or can you still ask the judge for 7411 after you’ve been found guilty at trial? The statute says that you are eligible if you plead guilty or are found guilty which means after you lose at trial. So technically, yes you can petition the judge after trial for 7411 but it is likely the prosecutor will object and the judge is probably less inclined to give it to you especially since they are not required to in the first place. It’s always best to get 7411 as part of a sentence agreement.

Can I still get 7411 if the prosecutor objects? Yes, you can although it may be more difficult. Some judges can be persuaded and have been persuaded to give 7411 over the prosecutor’s objection, but it’s always best to get the prosecutor to agree not to object or to take no position.

Will I lose 7411 for a first time probation violation? It depends on the judge and the nature of the violation. Certain violations are more serious then others and certain judges are more tolerant than others. It has been my experience that 7411 is rarely revoked for a first time violation but why take the chance? Your best bet is to not have any so it won’t ever be an issue.

In summary…

Who is Eligible:

First time offenders of use or possession of a controlled substance
Second time offenders of use or possession of an imitation controlled substance

Who is Not Eligible:

Multiple offenders of use or possession of a controlled substance
If you have already been given 7411 for a previous conviction
Serious drug charges beyond use or possession– dealing drugs, manufacturing drugs, maintaining a drug house

 

If you have been charged with controlled substance possession or use such as use of cocaine, use of marijuana, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, or use or possession of heroin, contact your Michigan Drug Crimes Lawyer today at (517) 614-1983. We can help you keep it off your record.

 

Representing Drug Crimes Clients throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Jackson, Livingston, Shiawassee, Kent, Clinton, Barry, and Gratiot and in the cities of: Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Bath, Ithaca, Charlotte, Jackson, Brighton, Howell, Corunna, Grand Rapids.