If you have been arrested for a drug possession offense in Michigan, whether it’s the simple possession of marijuana, possession of analogues (meaning drugs like Vicodin and Xanax), or other controlled substances, including things like cocaine, ecstasy and heroin, a lot goes through your mind. Of course, you’re undoubtedly filled with regret (certainly regret at being caught), but chances are, the reality of possible drug offense on your record also has you worried. The point of this article is to reassure the reader – whether you’re the person facing the charge, or you’re researching for your child, partner, or someone close to you – that in most cases, many, if not all, of the negative consequences, including a drug conviction on your/their criminal record, can be avoided.
As of this writing in July of 2016, possession of marijuana (spelled marihuana in the law book) still violates state law except with a medical marijuana card. Certain municipalities have either de-criminalized or even legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, but chances are, if you’re reading this, it’s because you were pulled over and found to have some in a jurisdiction where it is still illegal. I point this out because the attitude of some people regarding marijuana is a bit ahead of the law. For all the argument and analysis about how things should be, or likely will be down the road, the fact is that if you are found to be in possession of marijuana in most places, you will face a misdemeanor drug crime, and like all other possession charges, that subjects you to suspension of your driver’s license, making it all the more important to avoid such penalties by keeping the whole thing off of your record.
To keep this article short, I’ll skip the in-depth analysis of the “legal maneuvers” required to keep a possession charge off of your record. In the real world, there are generally 2 ways this is done: For those who are under 24 years of age (in other words, the day of the arrest or citation must be before the person’s 24th birthday), a conviction can be avoided by what is called “HYTA” (pronounced “hi-ta” and formally known as the “Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.” Until recently it only applied before a person’s 21st birthday, but that has changed.), or what is commonly referred to as 7411 (said like “74-11” and referring to the actual Michigan Compiled Law –MCL 333.7411). Let’s repeat that more simply; drug possession charges are kept off of a person’s record by either using “HYTA” or “7411.” Unfortunately, in the real world, cases are often a bit more complicated, like when a person charged with possession of marijuana is also charged with possession of paraphernalia, or a DUI offense, as well. For anyone over 24, there is no HYTA available, and a conviction for possession of paraphernalia cannot be deferred under section 7411. This means that the lawyer will often have to do some creative negotiating to keep your record clean. No matter how you cut it, the bottom line is that you hire a lawyer to make things better, and in the world of drug possession and related charges, that means, first and foremost, keeping everything off of your record.