Maintaining a Drug House or Drug Car

 

 Drug House Lansing Drug Crimes Attorney 

 

If you have been charged with a drug crime you could face additional and more severe charges if the drugs are associated with your home or vehicle. MCL 333.7405

 

What is a Drug House or Drug Vehicle

 

A drug house or drug car is defined as knowingly keeping or maintaining a store, shop, warehouse, dwelling, building, vehicle, boat, aircraft, or other structure or place that is frequented by persons using controlled substances for the purpose of using a controlled substance or for the purpose of keeping or selling a controlled substance.

 

In summary, it is a house, vehicle, or structure where drugs are used, stored, or sold.

 

Penalty

 

  • Up to two years in prison
  • $25,000 in fines

 

It is considered a high-court misdemeanor. A high-court misdemeanor is a serious misdemeanor that is handled at the circuit court or higher court and is procedurally treated like a felony.

 

Consecutive Sentencing

 

Upon conviction of multiple drug crimes, consecutive sentencing applies. That means you serve your first sentence before you start serving your sentence for maintaining the drug house. This applies to all serious controlled substance offenses beyond possession or use. For example, if convicted of Delivery & Manufacturing Marijuana and Maintaining a Drug House, you would have to serve one sentence completely before serving the sentence for the other crime. This is opposed to the more favorable concurrent sentencing where sentences for multiple convictions are served together at the same time.

 

Double Penalty

 

If you have a previous drug conviction, your penalty for the drug house or drug car charge will be doubled from a two-year high court misdemeanor to a four-year felony.

 

Summarizing What the Prosecutor Has to Prove

 

  • Defendant had knowledge of the drug house or car
  • Defendant did keep or maintain the drug house or car
  • The house or car was frequently used in violation of Michigan’s controlled substance laws

 

The prosecutor does not have to prove that you owned the house or car. For example, you would be guilty of this offense if you were storing or selling drugs from your hotel room or an abandoned barn.

 

Diversion Programs

 

Some drug charges are eligible for sentencing under MCL 333.7411 or 7411 for short. Upon successful completion of probation, you would not have a public record of the offense. Unfortunately, this is only available for first offenders of drug use or drug possession. However, if you are between the ages of 17 and 21, you would be eligible for sentencing under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) which allows you to earn a non-public record. However, it is within the discretion of the judge to give it to you.

 

How We Approach Your Case

 

These types of cases of often glorified possession cases that are bolstered into something more serious based upon the amount of drugs or the packaging. If the police believe the amount of drugs you possess is more than what a typical user would possess or is packaged individually suggesting it was being sold or distributed, you may find yourself with the heightened charge of maintaining a drug house or drug car. Your admissions can be used against you as well.

 

As a criminal defense attorney, our first goal is to see if the evidence can be suppressed by challenging the stop of the vehicle or the initial police contact. If the police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle or approach your house or lacked probable cause to search your car or house, your case can get dismissed. If it comes down to the weight and packaging of the drugs, you need an experienced Michigan drug crimes attorney to argue against it and perhaps even have an expert testify. If another occupant of your house or car is using it for selling or storing drugs without your knowledge, you would have a defense against the “knowing” element. If the charge cannot be dismissed, we may get it reduced to simple drug possession or drug use. In any event, this is a very serious charge and you need a strong advocate on your side.

 

If you have been charged with maintaining a drug house or drug car, call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to our Michigan drug crimes attorney.

 

Defending clients on drug charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Jackson, Clinton, Barry, Shiawassee, Livingston, Lenawee, and Kent in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Holt, Jackson, St. Johns, Bath, Corunna, Grand Rapids, Howell, Brighton, Okemos, Delta Township, Charlotte, Hastings.

 

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

Possession of Analogues

Lansing Michigan Drug Possession Lawyer

Analogues

 

Analogues, also known as “designer drugs,” are substances with a similar chemical structure to a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance (heroin, cocaine, marijuana). The federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been given the authority to immediately issue a ruling for certain analogues to become illegal. These laws were created in response to state and federal laws that only regulated illicit drugs. Drug users wanted the same sensation that the prohibited controlled substances provided, but without the fear of prosecution. Users quickly found out that they could use designer drugs (analogues) which were similar enough in their chemical compound to give them a faux sensation. It was a way to have the fun without the fear of going to jail. That is, until the legislatures became aware of this attempt to out maneuver the system and passed laws against the designer drugs as well. The most common examples of analogues that defendants get charged with are Vicodin and Oxycontin.

 

Most people have never even heard the term until they find themselves being charged. Also, many do not realize that analogues can be just as strong and even stronger than the illicit drugs they imitate. The common scenario on how someone gets charged with this offense is when they have been given somebody else’s lawfully prescribed pain medication to help them deal with their back pain or whatever. Even if that is true, it is still no legal defense to being in possession of these pills that they were not prescribed. Similar crimes involve obtaining medicine without a prescription or prescription fraud. Desperate individuals will write fake prescriptions on fake prescription pads or phony “call ins” in an attempt to unlawfully obtain prescription medicine.

 

Penalties:

 

Possession of Analogues– Punishable by up to two years in prison and $2,000 in fines.

 

Use of Analogues– punishable by up to one year in jail with $1,000 in fines.

 

Creation, Manufacturing, or Delivery (Possession with Intent to Deliver)– punishable by up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

 

Mandatory Driver’s License Suspension

 

Also, keep in mind that all drug convictions in Michigan (even marijuana possession) have mandatory driver’s license suspensions meaning that upon conviction, you will automatically lose your driver’s license for a period of time. That is mandatory by statute and the judge has no discretion to sentence around it.

 

Enhanced Sentences

 

There are enhanced sentences for each subsequent offense as well as for delivering to a minor or delivering within a certain distance of a school, house, bus, park, or church.

 

How I Approach a Possession of Analogues Case

 

As a Michigan drug crimes lawyer, my approach to analogues or drug charge is to first review the police report to see if there are any grounds to challenge the stop of either the vehicle or person. The initial contact with the defendant is crucial because the police must have certain criteria for initiating contact with someone. This is very fact specific and depends heavily on the “totality of the circumstances” surrounding the encounter. It also determines what legal rules and Constitutional standards apply. The next order of business is to scrutinize the search or the discovery of the drugs. In order to perform a search on a person, vehicle, or home, the police need either a search warrant or a valid exception to the search warrant requirement. There may be chain of custody issues or problems with the lab analysis as well. This is always the first place to start when deciding on whether they are valid search and seizure issues that can be raised to either get the case dismissed or to be used as leverage in plea negotiations with the prosecutor to get the charges reduced or a better deal than what is being offered. It will also help us decide whether the preliminary examination needs to be run or waived.

 

If the case is solid or cannot be dismissed, then the next phase is what I call mitigating the damage. As I tell my clients, usually we can’t just outright prevent any bad things from happening, but we can contain the damage or minimize the pain. That is accomplished by successful plea negotiations which can render a reduction in charges, a sentencing agreement which limits or eliminates jail, or reduces the charge so the defendant is eligible for a deferred sentencing option such as 7411 which not helps him earn a non-public record, but prevents the mandatory driver’s license sanctions.

 

As you can see, possession of analogues or any controlled substance case, is very complex with a lot of variables that factor into it. Prosecutors treat these cases very seriously and often will not be willing to offer good plea deals, especially for repeat or habitual offenders. That is why you need an experienced Michigan drug lawyer representing you. Contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today to speak to a Michigan drug crimes lawyer at (517) 614-1983.

 

Defending drug crimes throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Barry, Shiawassee, Washtenaw, Livingston, Kent in the cities of: Lansing, East Lansing, Charlotte, Jackson, St. Johns, Bath, Haslett, Mason, Okemos, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids