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Possession and Use of Marijuana and Controlled Substances

It's no secret that societal opinions towards the use of controlled substances are rapidly changing, in particular with respect to Marijuana. While several states have legalized Marijuana for recreational use, and several cities in Michigan have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of Marijuana, the fact remains that unless you are a Medical Marijuana Patient, it is still illegal to possess or use Marijuana in the State of Michigan. Given the general change in attitudes towards Marijuana, its possession and use has also become much more common and less stigmatized. It stands to reason then that crimes for Possession and Use of Marijuana are also some of the most common reasons we see for arrest and prosecution.

A conviction for Possession or Use of Marijuana carries with it profound direct and collateral consequences.

To begin, the charge of Use of Marijuana carries with it the potential for 90 days in jail and a fine of $100.00. The charge of Possession of Marijuana carries with it the potential for a year in jail and a $2,000.00 fine. By contrast, a first offense for Operating While Intoxicated (DU) in Michigan carries a maximum penalty of only 93 days in jail and only a $100.00 to $500.00 fine.

As if the possibility of a year in jail and fines of $2,000.00 isn't enough, most people don't realize that a conviction of possession of Marijuana also carries with it a mandatory license suspension for 6 months. If a court feels that you are entitled to it, they may enter an order giving you a restricted license after a 30-day hard suspension. Even with a restricted license you will only be permitted to drive certain places such as to work, doctors appointments, probation meetings, etc. Of course, you will also be required to pay reinstatement fees to the Secretary of State before being granted the privilege of a restricted license. If it is you second or subsequent possession offense within 7 years the law requires a 1 year suspension with the possibility of a restricted license after a 60 day hard suspension.

As with other crimes, a charge of Possession or Use of a Controlled Substance on one's record can mean loss of employment and lost job opportunities. A conviction such as this can also affect educational opportunities, enlistment in the military, parental rights, and can even effect entitlement to state and federal aid (benefits, student loans).

Thankfully, all is not lost. There is an option in Michigan for a deferred sentence under MCL 333.7411, commonly referred to as "7411." This was intended as a one¬time use mechanism by which a first time drug offender will be left without a public record of the offense. Typically, after the individual pleads guilty to the charge, a court will place him or her on probation. The length of probation and conditions of probation vary widely from judge to judge.

What must be understood about a 7411 deferral is that you are not entitled to it. In order to use a deferred sentence under 7411 you must first convince the court, and often the prosecutor, that you are a worthy candidate who is deserving of a second chance. There are various ways to demonstrate someone should be considered as a candidate for 7411, but we encourage the use of school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and showing community involvement, etc. Additionally, some courts and prosecutors require you to plead guilty to the offense before you learn whether or not you are a candidate for the deferred sentence.

Because they are so common, drug charges are often handled in a "cookie cutter" manner by both prosecutors and defense attorneys. We refuse to follow this approach. Our strategy with both Use and Possession of Marijuana and Controlled Substance charges is to aggressively defend against the charges themselves. This involves treating each client and situation with the attention they deserve in order to develop and implement a defense that is specific to them, protects their rights, and that stands the best chance of seeing charges dismissed. If your situation does not allow us to have the charges dismissed then we will ensure you are afforded every opportunity available to you during plea negotiations and sentencing.

To discuss your Use or Possession of Marijuana or Controlled Substance charge, call 616-426-9609, or fill out the contact form on this site. From our office in Grand Rapids, we represent clients throughout Michigan.