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What Are The Penalties For Unlawfully Manufacturing, Distributing, Using Or Possessing Anabolic Steroids In Michigan?

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Anabolic steroids are synthetic and artificial variations of the male hormone testosterone. They do have legitimate uses in medicine such as being prescribed to treat hormonal issues, muscle loss or even combat cancer. However, anabolic steroids are misused by weightlifters and athletes to both improve performance or create a more muscular appearance. While they do not cause a “high” like cocaine or heroin, they do increase endurance and athletic ability in the short-term. Unfortunately, steroid abuse can cause negative mental health effects such as paranoia, extreme aggression (“roid rage”), delusional thinking and impaired judgment. Even worse, anabolic steroids have long-term health effects such as kidney failure, liver disease and increased risk of heart attack or blood clots. As a result, anabolic steroids require a prescription and illegal use or distribution can lead to serious criminal consequences.

Anabolic steroids classified as a Schedule 3 drug according to Michigan Board of Pharmacy Rule 338.3122(2). People v Brown, 279 Mich App 116; 755 NW2d 664 (2008). This means, according to the Public Health Code, that “[t]he substance has a potential for abuse less than the substances listed in Schedule 1 and 2, [t]he substance has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and [a]buse of the substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.” MCL 333.7215.

Anabolic steroids can be legally obtained by a doctor with a prescription. However, the illegal creation, distribution, possession or misuse of anabolic steroids can lead to severe penalties under Michigan law:

UNLAWFUL MANUFACTURING, DELIVERING OR POSSESSING WITH INTENT TO DELIVER ANABOLIC STEROIDS (MCL 333.7401(2)(b)(ii)).

An individual is guilty of illegally manufacturing anabolic steroids 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 anabolic steroids. “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 anabolic steroids.
  • Fourth, that the individual was not legally authorized to manufacture anabolic steroids.

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

  • First, that the individual delivered anabolic steroids. 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:
    • The individual must have intended to deliver anabolic steroids to someone else.
    • The individual must have taken some action toward delivering the anabolic steroids, 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 individual knew that he or she delivered anabolic steroids.
  • Third, that the individual was not legally authorized to deliver anabolic steroids.

An individual is guilty of illegally possessing anabolic steroids 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 anabolic steroids. 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 anabolic steroids.
  • Third, that the defendant intended to deliver anabolic steroids to someone else.
  • Fourth, that the defendant was not legally authorized to possess anabolic steroids with intent to deliver.

The penalty for illegally manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver anabolic steroids is a felony conviction punishable by up to 7 years in prison or a fine up to $10,000.00, or both. MCL 333.7401(2)(b)(ii). In addition, the offender’s 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).

UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF ANABOLIC STEROIDS (MCL 333.7403(2)(b)(ii))

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

  • First, that the individual possessed anabolic steroids. 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” anabolic steroids if they have already ingested it.
  • Second, that the individual knew that he or she possessed anabolic steroids.
  • Third, that the individual did not have a legal prescription to possess anabolic steroids.

The penalties for possession of anabolic steroids is a felony conviction punishable by up to two years in prison or a fine up to $2,000.00, or both. In addition, the offender’s 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).

UNLAWFUL USE OF ANABOLIC STEROIDS (MCL 333.7404(2)(b))

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

  • First, that the defendant used anabolic steroids.
  • Second, that the substance used was anabolic steroids.
  • Third, that at the time he or she used it, the defendant knew the substance was anabolic steroids.
  • Fourth, that the individual did not have a legal prescription to use anabolic steroids.

The penalty for using anabolic steroids 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 offender’s 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 illegally manufacturing, delivering, possessing or using anabolic steroids 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 anabolic steroids if the substance was not actually anabolic steroids. A laboratory test of the actual substance may conclude it is not an illegal drug 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 accidentally take someone else’s duffel bag from the gym, and a police search of the duffel bag may reveal the presence of anabolic steroids 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.
  • LEGAL PRESCRIPTION – A doctor can legally prescribe anabolic steroids for treating legitimate medical conditions, but it must be used as directed. A legal prescription, however, does not authorize a person to create or distribute anabolic steroids without some other statutory authorization.

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 lawyers 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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