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What Are The Penalties For Possessing, Manufacturing, Distributing and Using Methamphetamine In Michigan?

Methamphetamine is a very potent stimulant drug that is well known for its euphoric effects. Unlike most controlled substances, methamphetamine is easy to produce and can be made with common ingredients sold in department stores. In fact, it can be produced at a spare room of someone's home in a location colloquially known as a "meth lab". This drug is known by several street names that include "crystal meth", "crank", "ice", "chalk" and "speed". Allegedly, the "high" that comes from abusing methamphetamine last longer than the "high" from cocaine. As a result, it is a prime target for substance abuse and may of its illegally produced forms can be smoked, snorted, injected or eaten. However, abusing meth is very dangerous and often leads to permanent physical injuries, disfigurement or death. Due to its ease in production and potentially fatal nature, it is a huge target for drug enforcement agencies across the United States. The legal penalties if convicted for methamphetamine crimes can result in hefty fines or a lengthy imprisonment.

Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule 2 drug in Michigan. MCL 333.7214(c)(ii). This means, according to the Public Health Code, that "[t]he substance has high potential for abuse, [t]he substance has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions, and [t]he abuse of the substance may lead to severe psychic or physical dependence." MCL 333.7213. Methamphetamine is available in legal prescriptions, but these compounds are often broken down and illegal created into a more potent, harmful substance.

MANUFACTURING, DELIVERING OR POSSESSING WITH INTENT TO DELIVER METHAMPHETAMINE (MCL 333.7401(2)(b)(i)).

An individual is guilty of illegally manufacturing methamphetamine if the prosecutor can prove ALL of the following beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 12.1):

  • First, that the individual manufactured a controlled substance,
  • Second, that the substance manufactured was methamphetamine. "Manufacture" means "the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion, or processing of a controlled substance, directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of natural origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis. It includes the packaging or repackaging of the substance or labeling or relabeling of its container", except that it does not include "the preparation or compounding of a controlled substance by an individual for his or her own use." MCL 333.7106(3).
  • Third, that the individual knew that he or she was manufacturing methamphetamine.

An individual is guilty of illegally delivering methamphetamine if the prosecutor can prove ALL of the following beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 12.2):

  • First, that the individual delivered methamphetamine. DELIVERY DOES NOT REQUIRE AN EXCHANGE FOR MONEY OR OTHER CONSIDERATION. "Delivery" means that the individual transferred or attempted to transfer the substance to another person, knowing that it was a controlled substance and intending to transfer it to that person. An attempt to transfer has two elements:
  1. The individual must have intended to deliver the substance to someone else.
  2. The individual must have taken some action toward delivering the substance, but failed to complete the delivery. It is not enough to prove that the defendant made preparations for delivering the substance. Things like planning the crime or arranging how it will be committed are just preparations; they do not qualify as an attempt. In order to qualify as an attempt, the action must go beyond mere preparation, to the point where the crime would have been completed if it had not been interrupted by outside circumstances. To qualify as an attempt, the act must clearly and directly be related to the crime the defendant is charged with attempting and not some other goal.
  • Second, that the defendant knew that he or she delivered a controlled substance.

An individual is guilty of illegally possessing methamphetamine with intent to deliver if the prosecutor can prove ALL of the following beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 12.3):

  • First, that the defendant possessed methamphetamine. Possession does not necessarily mean ownership. It can mean that the person had actual physical control or dominion over the substance (e.g. in his or her hand or pocket). People v Germaine, 234 Mich 623, 627; 208 NW 705 (1926). It can also mean that he or she had "constructive possession", or the right to control the substance even if it was in a different room. People v Bercheny, 387 Mich 431; 196 NW2d 767 (1972).
  • Second, that the defendant knew that he or she possessed a controlled substance.
  • Third, that the defendant intended to deliver the controlled substance to someone else.

The penalties for manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver methamphetamine are a felony conviction punishable by up to 20 years in prison or a fine up to $25,000.00, or both. The quantity of the methamphetamine being manufactured, delivered or possessed with intent to deliver does not impact the statutory sentence. In addition, the driver's license will be suspended for six months (but suspended for one year if the individual has any prior controlled substance convictions within seven years of the violation). MCL 333.7408a(1).

POSSESSION OF METHAMPHETAMINE (MCL 333.7403(2)(b)(i))

An individual is guilty of illegally possessing methamphetamine if the prosecutor can prove ALL of the following beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 12.5):

  • First, that the individual possessed methamphetamine. Possession does not necessarily mean ownership. It can mean that the person had actual physical control or dominion over the substance (e.g. in his or her hand or pocket). People v Germaine, 234 Mich 623, 627; 208 NW 705 (1926). It can also mean that he or she had "constructive possession", or the right to control the substance even if it was in a different room. People v Bercheny, 387 Mich 431; 196 NW2d 767 (1972). However, a person is no longer "possessing" methamphetamine if they have already ingested it.
  • Second, that the defendant knew that he or she possessed a controlled substance.

The penalty for possession of methamphetamine is a felony conviction punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine up to $25,000.00, or both. The quantity of the methamphetamine possessed does not impact the statutory sentence. In addition, the driver's license will be suspended for six months (but suspended for one year if the individual has any prior controlled substance convictions within seven years of the violation). MCL 333.7408a(1).

USE OF METHAMPHETAMINE (MCL 333.7404(2)(a))

An individual is guilty of illegally using methamphetamine if the prosecutor can prove ALL of the following beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 12.6):

  • First, that the defendant used a controlled substance.
  • Second, that the substance used was methamphetamine .
  • Third, that at the time he or she used it, the defendant knew the substance was methamphetamine.

The penalty for using methamphetamine is a misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 1 year in jail or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. In addition, the driver's license will be suspended for six months (but suspended for one year if the individual has any prior controlled substance convictions within seven years of the violation). MCL 333.7408a(1).

DEFENSES

Some defenses available at law related to manufacturing, delivering, possessing or using methamphetamine include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • NOT ACTUALLY CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE - It is not enough for conviction that the defendant thought he was making, distributing or possessing methamphetamine if the substance was not actually methamphetamine. A promising drug dealer who is not at all skilled in chemistry may be creating a substance that is not methamphetamine whatsoever. A laboratory test of the actual substance may conclude it is not methamphetamine and lead to a dismissal of charges.
  • UNWITTING POSSESSION - Often times, an individual may not realize that they are in possession of a controlled substance. For example, you may borrow someone's jacket or drive someone else's car, and a police search of the jacket or vehicle may reveal the presence of drugs without knowing beforehand. Of course, the police will assume that the contraband belongs to you. A lack of knowledge can be a defense that the jury will believe.
  • LACK OF CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION - If a vehicle with five occupants is pulled over and a bag of methamphetamine is discovered under the passenger seat, then all five occupants can be charged with being in constructive possession of the drugs. A lack of control, possession or ownership over the controlled substances (whether actual or constructive) can be a total defense to these serious charges.
  • LEGAL PRESCRIPTION - A defendant who can produce a valid pharmaceutical script can show the prosecutor and the court that he or she was legally prescribed methamphetamine and, thus, may legally possess it. However, this defense may fail if the defendant took the legally possessed methamphetamine and altered it to be incorporated into a more potent form.

In addition to the possible charges for actually manufacturing, delivering, possessing or using methamphetamine, there are also additional criminal charges and penalties available for owning or possessing a meth lab, owning or possessing chemicals or laboratory equipment for use in a meth lab, or even providing chemicals or laboratory equipment to a meth lab.

Any controlled substance charge is extremely serious, and a conviction will change your life forever. You cannot settle for anything less than the most skilled lawyer in your corner. An attorney may review the evidence and determine that the police illegally seized the drugs contrary to the Fourth Amendment. If a judge grants a motion to suppress the evidence, this may lead to a total dismissal of the charges. Even if the evidence is fairly strong, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate a resolution that avoids a conviction or license sanctions down the road (e.g. deferral under "7411" or Holmes Youthful Trainee Act). In addition, an attorney may be able to negotiate a sentence that includes a drug treatment program in lieu of immediate jail or prison.

If you are charged with manufacturing, delivering, possessing or using any controlled substance, do not hesitate to contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.

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