Delivery or Manufacture of Marijuana in Michigan is a 4 year felony. This includes less than 5 kilograms of marijuana or 20 Plants of Marijuana. Delivery or Manufacture of more than 5 kilograms but less than 45 kilograms of Marijuana is a 7 year felony. Delivery or Manufacture of 45 kilograms or more of Marijuana is a 15 year felony. As stated before, Possession of Marijuana is a lessor offense, and can be a 1 year misdemeanor or less depending upon where the case is prosecuted. A defense to marijuana cases, if applicable, is the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act that applies to both caregivers and patients.
Possession of Marijuana can be actual or constructive possession. Actual possession means that the marijuana is in the Defendant’s hand, pocket, or otherwise on his or her person. Constructive possession means that the Defendant had dominion and control over the marijuana, but did not actually possess it. An example of constructive possession of marijuana would be if a police officer arrested a Defendant in his home, but located marijuana in a search of the glove compartment of his car. Possession can also be joint, which in relation to a criminal prosecution means that more than one person has the right (albeit, not in a legal sense) to possession the marijuana in question.
Delivery means that the Defendant transferred or attempted to transfer the marijuana to another person knowing that the substance was marijuana, and intending to transfer it to another person. This has to go beyond just preparing to commit a crime, to a point where the crime would have been completed but for some sort of interruption that occurred. Being merely present where any crime has been committed, without anything more, is not enough to support a conviction for an offense.
Evidence of intent to deliver is often may be proven by direct evidence (Examples of this include: the testimony of an undercover police officer that participated in a marijuana buy; observations made by a police officer of a hand to hand marijuana transaction, etc.), or circumstantial evidence (Examples of this include: proof based upon the manner in which the marijuana is packaged; the quantity of the marijuana; the presence of a scale, packaging materials; money in denominations that support sales; lack of marijuana use paraphernalia such as a pipe or rolling papers, etc.). Often in marijuana delivery cases a police officer will be qualified and testify as an expert witness concerning the intent of the Defendant based upon the totality of the circumstantial evidence.
Sentencing for drug cases are often controlled by the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines. The guidelines quickly escalate as the quantities increase. Possession, Delivery, or Manufacture of large quantities of marijuana often results in a lengthy prison sentence. Marijuana charges can also be pursued by the Federal criminal justice system at the discretion of the federal authorities. Major marijuana offenses are also not subject to expungement or diversionary sentence provisions in Michigan. A person who knowingly aids and abets in the possession, manufacture, or delivery of marijuana can be prosecuted to the same degree as the main person involved in the offense.
For convictions for Possession of Marijuana, or Delivery or Manufacture of Marijuana involving less than 5 kilograms or 20 plants, persons 17 years old and younger than 21 years old in Michigan state courts can request Holmes Youthful Trainee Status (HYTA) to keep the offense off their record. If a Defendant pleads guilty to Possession of Marijuana, he or she can request section 7411 in Michigan state courts, which will also keep the offense off his or her record. Without the receipt of either HYTA or section 7411, a conviction will result in suspension of driving privileges even if the operation of a motor vehicle had nothing to do with the offense itself. Otherwise, the Defendant for Michigan state convictions can pursue an expungement for Possession of Marijuana, or Delivery or Manufacture of Marijuana involving less than 5 kilograms or 20 plants five years after the Court’s jurisdiction ends. There is no HYTA, section 7411, or expungement for Federal marijuana convictions.
An experienced criminal defense attorney is needed when it comes to marijuana cases:
1. An experienced criminal defense attorney can pursue dismissal or suppression of evidence based upon Constitutional grounds when appropriate;
2. An experienced criminal defense attorney can raise necessary defenses such as lack of knowledge, lack of intent, lack of evidence, reasonable doubt, alibi, mistaken identity, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (if the defense is applicable and allowed by the trial Court), and mere presence in order to possibly gain acquittal or persuade a Judge or Jury for conviction for a lessor charge such as simple Possession of Marijuana.
3. An experienced criminal defense attorney can sometimes negotiate a plea bargain or sentencing agreement favorable to the Defendant. The criminal defense attorney can argue for HYTA and section 7411 when applicable. Drug treatment is also an option in many cases, which can often eliminate or reduce jail time.
4. An experienced criminal defense attorney can challenge the scoring of Michigan sentencing guidelines to try and lower the potential sentence, and argue for a downward departure from Michigan sentencing guidelines.
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