You might not think much about doing some Molly on a night out, or even borrowing some Ativan from a friend during a stressful time. But if you are caught in possession of a controlled substance – and don’t have a legal prescription for the drug – then you could be charged with a criminal offense.
In Michigan, drug crimes, including possession, can result in lengthy periods of incarceration and steep fines. Depending on the type of drug and how much you had on you, you may spend 4 or more years in state prison. Fortunately, it is possible to defend against drug possession charges with the assistance of our experienced Traverse City drug possession attorneys.
Mas/Stig-Nielsen prides itself on our zealous advocacy for our clients. We treat each client with compassion while simultaneously putting together the strongest possible factual and legal defenses to the charges against them. Reach out to our law offices to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.
When Can I Be Charged with Drug Possession in Michigan?
In Michigan, drug possession is a crime. But what exactly does it mean to possess drugs?
Michigan law defines drug possession as knowingly or intentionally possessing a controlled substance, a controlled substance analog, or prescription form, unless the controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or prescription form was obtained directly through a valid prescription from a licensed provider. In other words, if you possess a controlled substance or similar substance and it was not prescribed by your doctor, then you could be charged with the crime of drug possession. A prosecutor will have to prove each element of this crime to secure a conviction.
So what exactly is a controlled substance?
Like most states, Michigan classifies drugs by “schedules.” These schedules are used for the regulation of drugs as well as for prosecuting people who possess them illegally. The schedules are as follows:
- Schedule I: drugs in this category have no accepted medical purpose but an increased potential for abuse. It includes substances such as marijuana, LSA, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, and mushrooms (note that while marijuana use is legal in Michigan, it is still classified as a controlled substance).
- Schedule II: this category includes drugs that are approved for medical use in the United States, but have a high potential for addiction. This includes drugs such as oxycodone, methadone, cocaine, morphine, hydrocodone, and methamphetamines.
- Schedule III: drugs in this category have a legitimate medical purpose, but still a risk of addiction or misuse. This category includes hydrocodone with acetaminophen or aspirin, anabolic steroids, and lower-potency morphine.
- Schedule IV: in this category are drugs that are widely used and have a lower potential for abuse and addiction. This includes substances like Xanax and Valium.
- Schedule V: this category includes drugs that have a low potential for abuse, many of which are available over the counter. Cough syrups with codeine and cold medicines with ephedrine are included in Schedule V.
It is possible to have a valid legal prescription for a controlled substance – such as Ritalin for ADHD (a schedule II drug). However, if you don’t have a prescription for Ritalin and obtained some from a friend or even a drug dealer, then you could be charged with drug possession.
Penalties for Drug Possession in Michigan
The controlled substance schedule is incredibly important when it comes to drug possession charges because the classification of the drug – along with the quantity that you possess – will determine the penalty that you face. Generally, the higher the schedule of the drug and the more that you possess, the greater the likelihood that you will face serious jail time under Michigan’s drug sentencing guidelines. In fact, if you possess above a certain quantity of drugs, you could be charged with possession with intent to sell (or drug trafficking).
Penalties for drug crimes related to possession may include:
- Schedule I or Schedule II drugs: a felony charge punishable by no more than 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 (25 grams) up to life imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000,000.
- Schedule I – IV drugs: for smaller quantities of controlled substances, a felony offense punishable by up to 2 years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000
- Certain controlled substances such as LSD or peyote or a Schedule 5 drug: a misdemeanor charge and a potential penalty of up to 1 year in jail and no more than $2,000 in fines.
- A prescription form: a misdemeanor charge punishable by no more than 1 year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
It can be difficult for most people to figure out exactly what penalties they may be facing if they have been charged with drug possession. If you are facing drug charges – particularly if you have any previous drug crime convictions – then your best course of action is to reach out to a Traverse City drug possession attorney as soon as possible.
Defending Against Traverse City Drug Possession Charges
It can be easy to feel defeated and as though you have no options if you are charged with drug possession or related drug offenses. It is important to remember that there are a number of possible defenses to drug charges. It may even be possible to get the charges dismissed entirely.
Drug possession cases often involve some type of search and seizure by law enforcement. Perhaps you were stopped and patted down, or maybe the police searched your house when responding to a noise complaint. In many cases, police officers do this without the proper legal justification – which can lead to the evidence being tossed out of court.
In the United States, we are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures by the Constitution. If law enforcement violates these rights, then your Traverse City criminal defense lawyer can file a legal document called a motion to suppress. If the court grants the motion, then the prosecution won’t be able to use the evidence that the police illegally seized – and the case could be dismissed entirely.
Of course, there are other potential ways to defend against a drug possession charge – such as arguing that you did not knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance, or even that you had a valid prescription. If you have been charged with drug possession, do not talk to the police or give a statement without first consulting with a drug crime attorney. They can advise you of your legal rights and options – and get to work to secure you the best possible outcome for the charges against you.
Facing Drug Possession Charges? Give Mas/Stig-Nielsen a Call.
When you are arrested for drug possession, you might think that your only option is to plead guilty and take whatever punishment comes your way. However, drug crime convictions in Michigan carry steep penalties along with potential collateral consequences like losing a professional license or having difficulty getting a job. It may be possible to get the charges reduced or dismissed entirely with the help of a Traverse City drug possession lawyer.
At Mas/Stig-Nielsen, we have extensive experience representing individuals throughout Michigan who are facing all kinds of drug charges. We work hard to help our clients get the best resolution to the charges against them, whether that means working out a favorable plea deal or taking the case to trial. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a Traverse City drug crimes lawyer, give us a call at 231-714-4128 or fill out our online contact form.