Drug dealers often look to bring young and impressionable children into their illegal trade because they are easy to manipulate and are perceived as less detectable by law enforcement than adults. For that minor child that is recruited into the drug underworld, he or she will find life much more difficult due to possible addiction, exposure to dangerous situations, and likely involvement with the criminal justice system. To discourage this behavior, the Michigan Legislature provides for very stiff penalties for anyone that tries to bring youth into the drug trade.
ELEMENTS OF RECRUITING OR INDUCING A MINOR TO COMMIT A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE FELONY
“A person 17 years of age or over who recruits, induces, solicits, or coerces a minor less than 17 years of age to commit or attempt to commit any act that would be a felony under [Article 7 of the Public Health Code] if committed by an adult is guilty of a felony.” MCL 333.7416(1).
Controlled substance felonies under Article 7 of the Public Health Code include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Delivery or manufacture of any amount of certain Schedule 1 or 2 controlled substances. MCL 333.7401(2)(a).
- Delivery or manufacture of methamphetamine. MCL 333.7401(2)(b)(i).
- Delivery or manufacture of an imitation controlled substance. MCL 333.7341(8).
- Delivery of manufacture of a prescription form or counterfeit prescription form. MCL 333.7401(2)(f).
- Delivery, manufacture or possession of GBL. MCL 333.7401b.
- Operating or maintaining a controlled substance laboratory. MCL 333.7401c.
- Delivery or manufacture of counterfeit controlled substances or analogues. MCL 333.7402(2).
- Possession of certain Schedule 1 or 2 controlled substances or methamphetamine. MCL 333.7403(a)-(b).
- Maintaining a drug house. MCL 333.7405(1)(d).
- Obtaining controlled substances by fraud. MCL 333.7407(1)(c).
This offense “applies whether or not the person 17 years of age or older knew or had reason to know the age of the minor less than 17 years of age.” MCL 333.7416(4).
Regarding “inducing” someone, M Crim JI 8.4 says “[i]t does not matter how much help, advice or encouragement the defendant gave. However, [the judge or jury] must decide whether the defendant intended to help another commit the crime and whether his or her help, advice or encouragement actually did help, advise or encourage the crime.”
Regarding “solicitation”, M Crim JI 10.6(2) says that this is established when the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that “the defendant, through words or actions, offered, promised, or gave money, services, or anything of value (or forgave or promised to forgive a debt or obligation owed) to another person.”
PENALTIES FOR RECRUITING OR INDUCING A MINOR TO COMMIT A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE FELONY
A person who commits a violation of MCL 333.7416(1) “is guilty of a felony and may be punished by a fine of not more than the fine authorized [by Article 7 of the Public Health Code] for an adult who commits such an act… and shall be punished as follows:
- “If the act to be committed or attempted by the minor is [delivery or manufacture of 1,000 grams or more of certain schedule 1 or 2 controlled substances in violation of MCL 333.7401(2)(a)(i)], by imprisonment for life.” MCL 333.7416(1)(b).
- For any other offense punishable as a felony under Article 7 of the Public Health Code, “by imprisonment for not less than ½ of the maximum term of imprisonment authorized… for an adult who commits such an act and not more than the maximum term of imprisonment authorized… for an adult who commits such an act.” MCL 333.7416(1)(a). However, this minimum/maximum sentence does not apply to [violations involving] the manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver… marijuana.” MCL 333.7416(4).
A person subject to a sentence for a violation of MCL 333.7416(1) “shall not be subject to a delayed sentence or a suspended sentence and shall not be eligible for probation.” MCL 333.7416(2). “The court may depart from a minimum term of imprisonment authorized for [a violation of MCL 333.7416(1)] if the court finds on the record that there are substantial and compelling reasons to do so.” MCL 333.7416(3).
A CHARGE OF RECRUITING OR INDUCING A MINOR TO COMMIT A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE FELONY IS A SERIOUS OFFENSE, BUT A SKILLED CRIMINAL DEFEFNSE LAWYER CAN HELP
Police and prosecutors will take the charge of recruiting or inducing a minor seriously, and the judge will not hesitate to punish to the full extent of the law if you are found guilty. You cannot afford to have anything but the best possible legal representation in your corner. There may be defenses that can be advanced to defeat these charges:
- MINOR ACTED INDEPENDENTLY OF ANY RECRUITMENT OR INDUCEMENT: The prosecutor has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the minor was solicited, recruited or induced into drug activity. If the minor acted independently and no witnesses can establish any connection between the minor and the defendant, then there may not be enough evidence to sustain a conviction.
- INDIVIDUAL RECRUITED OR INDUCED WAS NOT ACTUALLY A MINOR: If the “target” was actually over 17 years of age as a matter of fact, then a conviction cannot be sustained.
- MISTAKEN IDENTITY OR ALIBI: In the world of drug trade, most people involved identify themselves with an alias or a street name. Depending on the nature of the communication, it may not be possible for the police or the minor to even identify the person that he or she spoke to.
Our criminal defense lawyers can explore all of the possible defenses available under the law and hold the prosecutor to their constitutional burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if the evidence against you is strong, it may be possible to negotiate a plea bargain to a lesser offense or reach a sentence agreement that can minimize the financial consequences or loss of freedom.
If you or a loved one is charged with any crime and need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.