It is never good to have drug charges filed against you. However, not all controlled substance convictions are created equal. What charges have been filed, and your own criminal history, can affect any sentence you may receive, and what plea bargain options may apply. Find out how to read drug charges so you know what to expect.
Understanding Michigan Controlled Substance Charges
It is illegal to manufacture, sell, transport, possess or use any illicit drugs in Michigan. This includes Schedule One drugs like cocaine and heroin, marijuana, and Schedule Two pharmaceuticals unless you have a valid prescription. When the police have probable cause to believe you have violated the Michigan Controlled Substance Act, the prosecutor will authorize drug charges against you.
A ticket or “Information” document provides a lot of insight into a case to someone knows how to read drug charges. It tells prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys:
- Whether the charges involve marijuana, pharmaceuticals, or hard drugs.
- The quantity of drugs involved.
- Whether the person is accused of owning, using, manufacturing or selling the substance.
- How many past drug convictions the defendant has.
These factors will affect the severity of the charges, the consequences of conviction, and the potential jail or prison sentence. You should receive a copy of the charging document at your first court hearing, called an arraignment. Be certain to give that information to your criminal defense attorney right away, so that he or she can understand the particular drug charges against you.
Additional Drug-Related Charges To Watch Out For
Depending on the circumstances of your arrest or the criminal allegations against you, there may also be additional drug-related charges that could add up to much more severe criminal consequences. This could include:
- Multiple counts for manufacture and possession of the same drugs
- Operating While Intoxicated, if it appears you were driving with any trace of a controlled substance in your system
- Operating a Drug House, if it appears the controlled substance was manufactured in a home other qualifying place
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, if it appears you had syringes, bongs, vaping equipment, or other articles used to consume drugs in your possession or control
- Conspiracy charges, if it appears you worked with one or more other person to make, sell, or use the controlled substances
These additional drug-related charges each come with potential jail or prison time. Should you decide, on advice of counsel, that it is best to enter a plea deal, an experienced criminal defense attorney can often negotiate to have some, or all, of these add-on charges dismissed as part of the agreement.
Habitual Drug Charges Make Sentencing Tougher
Unfortunately, many people facing drug charges are no strangers to the courthouse. Drugs such as methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin are highly addictive. A person who uses these substances can quickly become chemically dependent on them. On a second, third, or later trip through the criminal justice system, these individuals can be charged as “habitual offenders”. These “habitual charges” must be listed on your charging document, along with the sentencing consequences of the sentence enhancement.
A skilled criminal defense attorney can often negotiate to have habitual sentence enhancements reduced or even eliminated if you agree to plead to the underlying offense. This will lower the severity of your conviction and reduce any recommended sentence. Should you choose to do so, be aware that the judge will still consider your previous convictions (drug-related or otherwise) when determining your sentence.
Understand Your Options When Facing Drug Charges
Michigan law includes several alternatives for first time and non-violent drug offenders. Depending on your criminal history and your age you may qualify for a diversion program that will prevent you from having a felony conviction on your record permanently. You may also want to consider drug treatment court which can improve some drug users’ chances of breaking free from drug addiction while avoiding jail or prison time.
Many people facing drug charges choose to enter into plea deals rather than go to trial; however, this is always up to you. There are also many defenses to drug charges that could make a conviction less likely in your case. Be sure to discuss all your options with your criminal defense attorney before going in front of the judge.
The Cronin Law Firm has experienced attorneys to aid with whatever legal issue you’re facing. If you are facing drug charges, contact The Cronin Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.