Marijuana Crimes in Michigan – The Short Version

This article is another installment of “Short Version” posts which boil down the essential points of larger, more detailed articles. This article will review the most important points set out in both Part 1 and Part 2 of the full-version article on Possession and Delivery of Marijuana. Because my Criminal Practice is limited to Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, the issue of Jail time as discussed here may be different for cases being heard outside of the Metro-Detroit area.

Possession of Marijuana is a Misdemeanor Offense. It can be charged either under State Law or Local Ordinance. When charged as a State Law Crime, the maximum penalty that can be imposed is up to 1 year in Jail (under all but the most exceptional circumstances, spending even 1 day in Jail is highly unlikely), a fine of up to $2000, and a 6 month mandatory Suspension of the Driver’s License, with a Restricted License being available for the last 5 months, after the first 30 days of the suspension.

20090403_marijuana_leaf-1.jpgMost often, Possession of Marijuana is charged as a Local Ordinance Offense, and carries a maximum of 93 days in Jail (again, even serving 1 day of that, in all but the most unusual circumstances, is exceedingly unlikely), a fine of up to only $500, and the same 6 month suspension of the Driver’s License.

A Possession of Marijuana Charge can be kept off of a person’s record. If a person is under 21 years of age at the time of the Offense, and has not used what’s called HYTA (which stands for Holmes Youthful Trainee Act), and doesn’t have much, if any, of a prior Criminal Record, they can Plead guilty to the charge under an arrangement with the Court that provides the whole case will be deferred (kind of like kept in the Judge’s desk drawer) and the person required to serve a term of Probation. If they complete that Probation without any problems, such as picking up any new charges or testing positive for drugs, and if they otherwise do whatever the Judge orders them to do, (that is, not have a “Probation Violation”) the whole case will be dismissed at the end of the period of Probation
For anyone over 21, or even someone under 21 who has used HYTA before, the same kind of deal can be worked out using what’s known as 7411. “7411” is a provision of the law (formally known as MCL 333.7411) which provides that person with no prior Drug Record can Plead guilty under an arrangement with the Court that keeps a Drug Charge (and Possession of Marijuana is a Drug Charge) off their record, just like HYTA does.

In the case of either HYTA or a 7411, a fine is assessed, and certain Conditions of Probation are ordered by the Judge. One of the most important parts of either of these deals is that since there is no Conviction recorded, there are no Driver’s License Sanctions and thus no Suspended License.

In cases involving Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana, the potential punishment is the same as that for the Offense of Delivery and Manufacture of Marijuana. Both of these are Felony Charges. In cases where a person has been charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver (called a “P-WID”) the goal of the Defense Lawyer is to reduce the charge to simple Possession so that a 7411 can be negotiated. HYTA is available (for those under 21 at the time of the Offense) in “P-WID” and actual Delivery Cases.

When someone has a prior Drug Record, and keeping a new Charge off their Record is not a possibility, then the goal of the Defense Lawyer is to avoid as much of the punishment and penalties as possible. The extent of what a person is facing, as well as what can and cannot be done by their Lawyer, depends on several factors, perhaps the most important of which is where the case is being heard.