Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Deliver

Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana

Lansing Michigan Marijuana Possession and Delivery Attorney

Possession of any type of drug, controlled substance or prescription pill with the intent to deliver it to someone else is a felony under Michigan law. The penalties vary depending on the schedule of the drug and how much of the drug the Defendant had. Possession of marijuana with intent to deliver is a felony. The penalties vary depending on the total weight of the marijuana or how many marijuana plants Defendant possessed. The maximum prison sentences range from four to 15 years.

What the Prosecutor Must Prove

  • Defendant knowingly possessed marijuana
  • Defendant created, manufactured, or had the intent to deliver the marijuana to someone else; and
  • Defendant was not in lawful possession of the marijuana or was acting outside the scope of his lawful duties as a licensee, applicant, or caregiver.

Penalties for Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver

  • Less than 20 marijuana plants or five kilograms—up to four years in prison and/or fines up to $20,000
  • 20-199 marijuana plants or five to 45 kilograms—up to seven years in prison and/or fines up to $500,000
  • 200 marijuana plants or more or more than 45 kilograms—up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $1,000,000

Federal Government

Often in cases involving 100 marijuana plants or more than five pounds, the federal government will step in and take over. Federal sentencing for possession with intent to deliver is much harsher than the state level. For example, under federal law if you possess 120 or more marijuana plants, you face a mandatory four years in prison whereas at the state for the same offense, more than likely you would be facing county time depending on what your sentencing guidelines are.

Proving the Intent Element

If the prosecutor can’t prove you were creating or manufacturing the marijuana, then they must prove that you possessed it with the intent to deliver it to another person. Prosecutors often have to rely on circumstantial evidence to meet this burden. The focus is on the weight and the packaging among other factors. The prosecutor will need an expert to testify as to the habits of drug dealers and how much marijuana a normal user would usually possess. If the marijuana is packaged in multiple bags as opposed to just one, that can be circumstantial evidence of the intent to sell or deliver the marijuana. Also, evidence of drug scales can also be circumstantial evidence as drug dealers use them to distribute different amounts—something a casual user wouldn’t need. Defendant may need to present an expert to counter the prosecution’s expert. These cases can come down to a “battle of the experts.” It is not uncommon for police to take a simple possession case and escalate it into a felony simply based upon the amount of drugs the person was caught with.

7411 Deferred Sentencing

Deferred sentencing under MCL 333.7411 can only be given for marijuana use or marijuana possession. Anything above general drug use or drug possession, including maintaining a drug house, possession of drug paraphernalia, or possession with intent to deliver, is not eligible for 7411.

Defenses

  • Lack of Knowledge—Defendant must be aware that the marijuana was in his possession in order to be found guilty.
  • Lack of Intent—Defendant must have created or manufactured the marijuana, or intended to deliver the marijuana to someone else. Defendant is not guilty if he merely possessed it for himself.
  • Mere Presence—Simply because Defendant was at the scene where drug dealing or drug possession occurred, is not enough to convict him of the crime.
  • Fourth Amendment Violations-— There may be various constitutional issues that could lead to a suppression of the evidence or dismissal of the charges including: search and seizure violations, lack of probable cause or lack of consent for the police to search, lack of probable cause for a search warrant, chain of evidence custody defects, improper lab testing.

Michigan treats any drug offense seriously, but especially charges involving drug dealing. That is why it is important to have an experienced Michigan drug and marijuana possession attorney thoroughly review all police and lab reports for any deficiencies or legal errors that could be used to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

Michigan Possession with Intent to Deliver Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with creating, manufacturing, or possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver, call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to our Michigan marijuana and drug possession attorney.

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

 

Can I Use Medical Marijuana on Probation?

Medical Marijuana 1

Lansing Michigan marijuana criminal defense attorney

A common question from clients when convicted of a crime is “Can I use my medical marijuana while I’m on probation.” The answer isn’t really simple. Felony probation officers are actually employees of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). Misdemeanor probation officers are usually employees of the county. The MDOC has a blanket stance against medical marijuana. No exceptions for anybody. Most misdemeanor probation departments have the same stance. That means it is up to the judge. If use you medical marijuana without the court’s permission, you face a probation violation.

When it comes to medical marijuana, some judges are skeptical and highly opposed, while others are more open to persuasion. This is why it is very helpful to be represented by a criminal defense lawyer that really knows your judge. Some are fine with it along as you have a valid Michigan Medical Marijuana Card. Some will make you choose between using your medical marijuana or driving. Others, will make you bring your doctor in to court so they can be cross-examined about why you need medical marijuana and why there are no other alternatives. Some judges won’t allow it. Period. It is true that you give up some of your freedoms when placed on probation, such as your freedom to travel, associate with known felons, and be in possession of weapons. Unfortunately for medical marijuana users, you can’t use marijuana while on probation either.

Here’s part of the problem. One of your conditions of probation is that you cannot violate any law, including: local ordinances, state law, and federal law. The problem is that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Even if you have a state-issued medical marijuana card, the feds can still arrest you. If a judge were to permit you to use medical marijuana on probation, essentially they are giving you permission to break federal law. That just doesn’t sit well with a lot of judges. It also makes it very confusing and frustrating for probationers.

Almost all defendants want probation rather than be incarcerated. Probation is a gift of grace after all. However, no one wants to give up their medical marijuana to do it. The reality is, unless the law changes or judicial interpretation changes, probationers will have to live with that ultimatum. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act is still relatively new and has had a disruptive impact of many areas of the law including child welfare, drunk driving, and probation just to name a few. It is also constantly evolving so it is important to keep up on the changes and to be represented by a criminal defense lawyer that is on top of all the recent developments.

It is important to be represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can negotiate a sentencing agreement with no probation, non-reporting probation, or get the case dismissed or a not guilty verdict at trial. If you are facing criminal charges, a probation violation, or a violation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney.

Defending criminal and marijuana charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Livingston, Jackson, Washtenaw, Kent, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Barry, and Shiawassee in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Ithaca, Brighton, Howell, Jackson, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, 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 First Offense Marijuana Possession

Michigan Marijuana Lawyer

Lansing Marijuana Possession Attorney

First Offense Marijuana Possession

 

Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense under both Michigan state law and local ordinance. It carries the possible penalties of jail, fines, court costs, probation and mandatory driver’s license suspension. The penalties for marijuana possession depends on the jurisdiction. If you have a Michigan Medical Marijuana Card you may have a defense to this crime. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act is a lengthy discussion that will not be covered in this article.

 

Penalties for Marijuana Possession Under State Law:

 

  • Up to one year in jail
  • $2,000 in fines
  • 180 days suspended driver’s license with first 30 days “hard suspension” (no driving at all-period!)
  • Probation up to two years

 

Penalties for Marijuana Possession Under Local Ordinances

 

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • $500 in fines
  • 180 days suspended driver’s license with first 30 days “hard suspension”
  • Probation up to one year

 

Some cities have de-criminalized possession for small amounts of marijuana on private property such as your home. It does not prevent you from being criminally charged if it is in your car. The cities of Detroit, Grand Rapids, and most recently Lansing, have decreased the penalty for small amounts of marijuana possession on private property to a civil infraction or ticket where you merely pay a fine. However, it remains a misdemeanor under both state and federal law.

 

Most charges of marijuana possession occur within the context of a traffic stop. The police pull you over for committing some traffic violation such as speeding and end up discovering the weed either in the car or on either the driver or passenger or the belongings of the driver or passenger. How does that happen? Usually one of three ways: plain view, permission, or admission.

 

If the police can see or smell the marijuana, this gives them probable cause to seize the dope and search the vehicle for more. This is what is known as the “plain view” (or “plain smell”) doctrine which is an exception to the warrant requirement for searches. If the police are somewhere where they are lawfully allowed to be and they either see the drugs in plain sight or smell the odor of the drugs, they can seize it as evidence and search for more anywhere it could reasonably be.

 

The other way is by admission or permission. Often the police will ask the driver and other passengers if they have anything illegal on them or in the car. Intimated and nervous, most will readily confess if they do not knowing that they do not have to answer such questions. The courts have held that most traffic stops are not considered “police custody’ which triggers Miranda Warnings. Instead, the courts have classified traffic stops as “brief detentions.” Therefore, the police do not have to provide you with Miranda Warnings before beginning an onslaught of incriminating questions. Remember: no one has to talk to the police. Ever. Always be polite, but invoke your right to silence by telling the officer “I choose not to answer any questions under the Fifth Amendment.” They cannot hold your silence against you or use that as suspicion to search your vehicle.

 

Police officers will often ask the driver for permission to search the car. Again, not realizing they can refuse and such refusal cannot be held against them, many people waive their Constitutional rights and give in to the officer’s request. Again, big mistake. Even if you have nothing to wide, the process of the police searching your car can not only be embarassing but it’s also time consuming and inconvenient. Do not give in to police scare tactics that they will make you wait until they come back with a warrant. Police never need a warrant to search a car. Due to the ready mobility of vehicles, it qualifies as an exigent circumstance which is an exception to the general warrant requirement for searches. All the police need is “probable cause.”

 

How do you know if the police have probable cause or not? Here’s a good rule of thumb to go by– if they are asking your permission they probably don’t have it. It’s been my experience from the vast hoards of dash cam footage I’ve witnessed and police reports I’ve read, if the police have probable cause they will be telling you they’re going to search your car, not asking. Sometimes the police have drug dogs with them and if the drug dog signals that drugs are in the car, that gives the police probable cause to search.

 

If only people were more educated about their rights and invoke them when the time comes, the vast majority of these cases would never be brought to court. That’s the honest truth.

 

My Approach to a Marijuana Possession Charge

 

The first thing I do is thoroughly review all the evidence including police reports, witness statements, dash cam footage, and lab reports. If the stop of the person or car can be successfully challenged, then any evidence obtained from those stops would be suppressed as “fruits of the poisonous tree.” The same goes for the search and seizure of the evidence. If there are any Fourth or Fifth Amendment violations, this can be used to suppress the evidence. If not, we move on the next phase: limiting the damage.

 

Even though jail is possible in the theoretical sense, it is extremely unlikely if not improbable. In all the cases of marijuana use and possession that I have represented clients on and of all the ones I have witnessed other attorneys represent clients on, and of all the ones I have heard of other attorneys representing clients on, I have never, ever seen or heard of a defendant go to jail on a first offense marijuana possession charge. I’m sure that it has probably happened to somebody somewhere. I’ve just never seen it or heard about it.

 

Realistic Outcomes and Sentences

 

Now that we have eliminated jail as a possibility, let’s discuss what the likely sentences are. Depending on which county you are in or what judge you are appearing infront of, you will either be placed on probation with fines and costs, or you will merely be assessed fines and costs. An attorney familiar with your particular court and judge will be able to tell you what to expect. If placed on probation, it generally lasts anywhere from three months to a year with six months being the average. Some courts will have you report regularly to your probation officer such as once a month, others will place you on non-reporting probation where you either report to your probation officer your first and last month of probation or not at all. It’s kind of like being on the honor system.

 

Driver’s License Suspension

 

Probably the worst consequence of marijuana possession (or any drug offense for that matter) is the mandatory driver’s license suspension. That is mandated by statute and neither the judge nor the prosecutor has any authority to barter around it. If convicted, your license will be suspended. The suspension is for 180 days or six months, with absolutely no driving at all during the first 30 days known as a hard suspension. The judge has the discretion to grant you restricted driving privileges after that 30 days meaning you can drive to work, school, court, and the doctor but that’s it. Also, while some judges will automatically grant you that upon sentencing (I always ask the judge to place it in order of judgment) some judges will make you come back after 30 days and formally petition the court for the restricted license. Being caught with marijuana is a much bigger deal than you think.

 

7411 Deferred Sentencing for First Time Drug Offenders

 

The good news is that if it is your first drug offense, you will qualify for a deferred sentence known as 7411 (short for the statute– MCL 333.7411). It is a one time deal that only applies to your first offense for either drug use or drug possession. Upon successful completion of probation, you will have earned a non-public record of the conviction. That means it will not appear on background checks and you can honestly tell future employers that you have not been convicted of a crime. It also prevents the mandatory driver’s license sanctions meaning you will not have a suspended license. If you are eligible, I always bargain with the prosecutor to get them to agree not to object to our motion for 7411. While it is always within the discretion of the judge, it you are otherwise eligible and the prosecution does not object, the judge will more than likely grant the petition unless for some reason you are not a good probation candidate.

 

Simple marijuana possession has harsher penalties and consequences than most people realize. If it is your first offense and it can’t be dismissed, I can help you keep it off your record and help you keep your driver’s license. A drug charge does not have to ruin your future. If you have been charged with marijuana possession, call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan marijuana attorney.

 

Representing clients on marijuana possession and use charges throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Barry, Jackson, Livingston, Washtenaw, Kent, Gratiot in the cities of: Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Okemos, Haslett, Meridan Township, Holt, Charlotte, Potterville, Hastings, St. Johns, Bath, Jackson, Brighton, Howell, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Ithaca, Alma.