Michigan Drug Crime Sentencing Laws

If you need assistance with complex drug crime sentencing issues, turn to the expert drug crime defense firm of Kronzek & Cronkright, PLLC.  We can be reached at (866) 766-5245.

Michigan Drug Sentencing Attorneys

In Michigan, sentencing for drug crimes actually used to be harsher than it is today. Some defendants received mandatory life sentences for certain drug crimes. This was referred to as the “650 Lifer Law.” However, the overcrowding of jails and social pressures to reduce these drug sentences led the Michigan Legislature to pass new drug sentencing laws.

Now, Michigan drug laws each give a maximum possible sentence for each drug crime. Only the most serious drug charges allow for a maximum sentence of life in prison. It is up to the judge to review the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines and come up with an appropriate sentence for the defendant’s drug crime. The judge will look at various factors, such as the type of illegal drug, what the defendant did with the drug, and whether the defendant has had prior drug charges.

Deferred Sentences — 7411

There are two special circumstances under Michigan law when a defendant may be given a deferred sentence for a drug crime. A deferred sentence means that the judge will assign imprisonment or probation to a defendant, and as long as the defendant complies with all the terms of the judge’s orders for a certain amount of time, then the drug charge will not become a conviction and therefore will not be entered onto the defendant’s public criminal record. Section 7411 The first deferred sentence is referred to as 7411 or Seventy-Four Eleven. It is called this because it comes from the Michigan law MCL 333.7411. Out of the two deferred sentence laws in Michigan, 7411 is the one that deals directly with drug crimes. In order to qualify for 7411 treatment, the defendant must never have been convicted of any drug crime in the past. 7411 applies to defendants of all ages and can only be used once in a lifetime. To qualify for 7411, the defendant must plead guilty or be found guilty of any of the following drug crimes:

  1. possession of less than 25 grams of Cocaine or less than 25 grams of a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 narcotic drug, such as Heroin or illegal OxyContin
  2. possession of any amount of Ecstasy
  3. possession of any amount of Methamphetamine
  4. possession of any amount of non-narcotic Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 drugs, such as GHB
  5. possession of any amount of Schedule 3, Schedule 4, or Schedule 5 drugs, such as illegal Vicodin or illegal Anabolic Steroids
  6. possession of an Analogue Drug
  7. possession of any amount of Marijuana
  8. use of any drug
  9. a second charge of use or possession of an Imitation Controlled Substance (This is the one instance under 7411 where a person with one prior drug crime is not excluded from another 7411 sentence. Please note that only prior use or possession of Imitation Controlled Substances still allow for another 7411 sentence, and not manufacture, delivery, possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, or advertising for Imitation Controlled Substances. However, complying with 7411 in this case is a bit more difficult because it is a second drug charge. The defendant must undergo a mandatory assessment to determine if rehabilitation under 7411 would benefit him or her. If the judge determines that rehabilitation would be of benefit, the judge may order the defendant to attend such a program, though it is mandatory that the defendant pay all the fees for the assessment and the rehabilitation program.)

If the judge grants 7411 treatment to the defendant, the court does not enter a guilty drug crime conviction. Instead, normally a plan is put into place by the defense attorney and the prosecutor and the defendant is placed on probation by the judge. The terms of that probation include a mandatory payment to the court to cover the defendant’s probation supervision by the state of Michigan. The judge may also order the defendant to attend a drug rehab program or a drug abuse class, and the defendant may have to pay a fee to attend either of those. Experienced criminal lawyers understand the best ways to attempt to obtain 7411 sentencing. But if the defendant violates any term of his or her probation, such as failure to attend drug rehabilitation or nonpayment of fees, the court may then enter the defendant’s guilt on the record and sentence the defendant for their drug crime. However, if the defendant does follow all the terms of his or her probation for a set amount of time, his or her drug charge does not become a conviction and is never entered onto the defendant’s Michigan public criminal record. You will notice we said that the drug charge will not be on the public criminal record. This is because, even if the defendant successfully completes his or her probation under 7411, there are still certain people who can see the drug crime in certain circumstances. Police, the prosecutor, or the court may view that nonpublic record to see whether the defendant has already been granted 7411 or to determine if the defendant is eligible for a special drug court. Additionally, the nonpublic record can be viewed by the Michigan Department of Corrections, a Michigan law enforcement agency, a Michigan court, or a Michigan prosecutor’s office—as long as the defendant is an employee or job applicant of those places who was sentenced to 7411 treatment after March 25, 2002—in order to determine whether the employee violated conditions of employment or whether the job applicant meets employment criteria. This means that if you successfully passed 7411 probation and then applied for a government job, you may not get the job because the government employer can still see the drug charge. This would not be the case with a non-government employer. It is best to speak with an experienced defense attorney about 7411 options in advance.

HYTA

The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, or HYTA, is also a deferred sentence scheme in Michigan. Unlike 7411, HYTA applies to almost any type of crime and not only drug crimes. However, the defendant must be age 17, 18, 19, or 20 when he or she commits the crime. HYTA also applies to someone as young as 15 if he or she has been charged in adult court. The defendant must plead guilty to the crime. Once the defendant is granted HYTA status, the judge may order the defendant to serve up to three years of imprisonment or probation. If the defendant follows all the judge’s orders for a set amount of time, he or she will not be convicted of the crime and the crime will not enter onto the defendant’s public criminal record. However, if the defendant fails to follow the judge’s orders, the defendant will no longer be considered a Youthful Trainee and sentencing will continue like normal, including additions to the defendant’s public criminal record. Like other sentencing options, HYTA has nuances and traps for the unknowing. It is wise to review these with your criminal lawyer before a court appearance. For more details on HYTA, visit our HYTA information page. HYTA typically applies to many types of Michigan crimes. However, when it comes to drug crimes, HYTA may not apply. A person charged with a “major controlled substance offense” cannot be granted a deferred HYTA sentence and therefore his or her crime will be sentenced like normal. Michigan law defines “major controlled substance offense” as a drug crime that involves any of the following:

  1. manufacturing, creating, delivering, or possessing with the intent to manufacture, create, or deliver any amount of Cocaine or any amount of a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 narcotic drug, such as Heroin and illegal OxyContin
  2. possessing any amount of Cocaine or any amount of a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 narcotic drug, such as Heroin and illegal OxyContin
  3. conspiracy to commit either of the drug crimes listed in (1) and (2) above

HYTA status may be granted for any other type of drug crime, including crimes involving: Marijuana, Vicodin, Date Rape Drugs, Anabolic Steroids, Ecstasy, Methamphetamine, Maintaining a Drug House, Operating or Maintaining a Controlled Substance Laboratory, Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud, Drug Licensee Crimes, Imitation Controlled Substances, Counterfeit Substances, Sale of Drug Paraphernalia, Soliciting Drug Crimes, and Attempt of a drug crime. Sometimes, a defendant may qualify for both 7411 and HYTA. Most of the time, an attorney will suggest that a defendant take an HYTA sentence since that can only be used until the defendant turns 21 years old. That way, if the defendant is charged with another drug crime, the defendant still has their one 7411 sentencing available to them.

Granting these deferred sentences is at the discretion of the judge and the judge may not be willing to grant a defendant 7411 after he or she already once had a deferred drug sentence under HYTA. This is yet another reason to involve an experienced criminal attorney right at the beginning of every criminal case. Drug convictions lead to suspension or revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license, even when the defendant was not driving at the time of his or her drug offense. Of course, if a defendant violates the terms of the 7411 or HYTA sentence, the drug charge becomes a conviction and the defendant’s driver’s license will be affected from that point on.

At Kronzek & Cronkright, we are very familiar with 7411 or HYTA deferred sentencing. We aggressively fight for our clients and do what it takes to get them the best outcome. We know the pitfalls of deferred sentencing and we work closely with our clients and defense team members to get a good result for clients all over Michigan. Call us to schedule your free initial consultation. We can be reached by phone 24 hours at 1-866-7NoJail, which is 1-866-766-5245.

Delayed Sentences for Michigan Drug Convictions

Although 7411 and HYTA are deferred sentences. This section deals with another type of sentence, which is a delayed sentence. In order for the judge to grant a delayed sentence in Michigan, the defendant has to prove that even though he or she has pled guilty or been found guilty of a crime, he or she is not likely to commit another crime. The defendant must also show that the public good would not require the defendant to be immediately sentenced. With a delayed sentence, the judge in Michigan can delay sentencing the defendant for up to one year. During that time, the defendant can prove to the judge that it would be better for the defendant to have a lenient sentence, such as receiving probation instead of being sent to jail or prison. During the delay, the defendant remains out of jail or prison, but must pay a supervision fee to the Michigan Department of Corrections. The judge can also order the defendant to follow other terms during this time, such as no alcohol consumption. If the defendant violates the terms of the delayed sentence, the judge can terminate the delayed sentence at a hearing and can sentence the defendant for the crime. Unlike 7411 and HYTA, with a delayed sentence the criminal conviction for the crime is entered immediately onto the defendant’s public criminal record. The advantage of a delayed sentence is that if the defendant can prove efforts to rehabilitate himself or herself, the judge will use that information in determining what, exactly, the sentence will be. In some cases, a judge may see a defendant making positive changes to their life, and decide not to order the defendant be sent to jail or prison, whereas the judge may have immediately sentenced the defendant to jail or prison without the delay. Judges cannot grant a delayed sentence for certain drug crimes. These crimes include:

  1. manufacturing, creating, delivering, or possessing with the intent to manufacture, create, or deliver any amount of Cocaine or any amount of a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 narcotic drug, such as Heroin and illegal OxyContin
  2. possessing any amount of Cocaine or any amount of a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 narcotic drug, such as Heroin and illegal OxyContin
  3. conspiracy to commit either of the drug crimes listed in (1) and (2) above

However, any other drug crime is eligible for a delayed sentence, including: Marijuana, Vicodin, Date Rape Drugs, Anabolic Steroids, Ecstasy, Methamphetamine, Maintaining a Drug House, Operating or Maintaining a Controlled Substance Laboratory, Prescription Form Crimes, Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud, Drug Licensee Crimes, Imitation Controlled Substances, Counterfeit Substances, Sale of Drug Paraphernalia, Soliciting Drug Crimes, and Attempt of a drug crime.

We have defended drug charges all over Michigan and have the experience to know how to fight for what is right for you.

Probation

You have probably heard of probation, though you may not know the details of what probation entails in Michigan. As with a delayed sentence, the defendant must prove to the judge that he or she is not likely to commit another crime and that it would be best for the public good for the defendant to be sentenced to probation. If the defendant has been convicted of a felony crime, the judge can grant the defendant a sentence of probation for 5 years or less. If the defendant has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime, the judge can grant the defendant a sentence of probation for 2 years or less. At the time the judge orders probation, the judge will decide the length and conditions of the defendant’s probation, though the court can change the conditions of the probation at any time. When a person is on probation, they are essentially serving out their sentence at home. The defendant will be required to follow certain conditions, such as to meet with a probation officer, or PO, to discuss their progress. The defendant cannot violate any criminal law or leave Michigan without the court’s permission. The defendant will also have to pay various fees to the Michigan government. The judge may also order the defendant to stay in the county jail for 12 months or less, complete community service, participate in drug or mental health treatment, be on house arrest or electronic monitoring, complete a high school education, and more. Certain crimes require certain conditions of probation, such as how a defendant convicted of some sex crimes cannot live, work, or spend time near a school while on probation.

Probation Violations in Michigan Drug Cases

Whatever the conditions of probation that the judge orders the defendant to complete, it is very important that the defendant do so. The reason is that breaking any of the conditions of probation could lead to a probation violation. When a defendant violates probation, the judge could go ahead and sentence the defendant to the original crime as if he or she had never been put on probation. This could mean jail or prison time for a defendant who previously only was required to serve probation. Probation cannot be granted for certain drug crimes, including:

  1. manufacturing, creating, delivering, or possessing with the intent to manufacture, create, or deliver any amount of Cocaine or any amount of a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 narcotic drug, such as Heroin and illegal OxyContin
  2. possessing any amount of Cocaine or any amount of a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 narcotic drug, such as Heroin and illegal OxyContin
  3. conspiracy to commit either of the drug crimes listed in (1) and (2) above

A defendant convicted of any other drug crime can be given probation.  If you want to be granted probation in Michigan, it is important to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side to ask the judge to grant probation and favorable conditions of probation.

Drug Treatment Court

Years ago, it became clear that drug addiction and criminal charges went hand-in-hand in Michigan. Criminal defendants would revolve in and out of the criminal justice system their entire lives and nobody was stepping in to help deal with their drug addictions. As a response to this problem, the Michigan Legislature created special drug treatment courts. These drug treatment courts treat drug addiction as a complex disease instead of just throwing it under the rug. Across various counties in Michigan, there are juvenile drug treatment courts, family drug dependency courts, and adult drug treatment courts, along with DWI courts. Defendants in drug treatment courts in Michigan are often addicted to or frequently use Marijuana, Crack Cocaine, Heroin, or Methamphetamine. In each drug court, there are certain eligibility requirements for defendants to get into these programs. Criminal defendants sentenced under 7411 and HYTA are eligible for participation in a drug treatment court. The defendant must plead guilty to the crime and waive certain rights, such as the right to a speedy trial and the right to a preliminary examination. Once the defendant is in a drug treatment court, he or she meets with the judge very frequently. The court staff helps the defendant with finding housing, transportation, employment, and more. The defendant is often subjected to random drug testing, drug addiction treatment, mandatory attendance at drug support groups, a nightly curfew, completion of education or other long-term goals, and payment of participation fees. In some cases, successful completion of a drug court program can lead to a dismissal of criminal charges. Even if that is not the case, the upside to participation in a drug treatment court is that there is documented success of many defendants breaking free of their drug use. Drug treatment courts often save Michigan taxpayers money due to the lower chance of those same defendants committing another crime. On the other hand, our attorneys have seen instances where clients have agreed to be involved in these specialty courts even though there was no reason for them to do so. This is a decision that should be thoroughly reviewed with an experienced criminal lawyer before making any quick decisions. In the Michigan court system, quick decisions can be bad decisions. At Kronzek & Cronkright, we want the best possible outcome for our clients. In some cases, that would be participation in a drug treatment court. Other times, drug and alcohol courts are the wrong route. We know the appropriate steps to help a defendant get into a drug treatment court program. We will fight for your rights if you have been charged with a drug crime. Call us at 1-(866)-7NoJail, which is 1-(866)-766-5245, to discuss your case. We offer free initial consultation.

Boot Camp

Michigan’s boot camp is part of a program called Special Alternative Incarceration, or SAI. There are a limited number of spaces in the SAI program, and only a few defendants get placed in this program each year. This includes a large percentage of defendants who have been charged with a drug crime. Both people who have been sentenced to probation and people who have been sentenced to incarceration may be placed in the SAI program. As you can imagine, there are different rules for each so we will go through each separately. A probationer is someone who could have been sentenced to jail or prison, but the court instead sentenced them to probation. One term of the defendant’s probation may be completion of the SAI program. In order for a probationer to be placed in the SAI program: (1) they must have been charged with a felony crime, but not one involving child pornography, sex crimes in the first through third degree, arson, or attempt of any of these crimes; (2) they must never have been imprisoned; (3) they will now likely be sentenced to imprisonment for at least 12 months; (4) they are mentally and physically able to participate in the SAI program; (5) they agree to be placed in the SAI program; and (6) they have never been in the SAI program before, unless they were previously in the program and dismissed due to legitimate medical reasons. If the probationer does not successfully complete the terms of the SAI program, that is grounds for revocation of probation, which means he or she could end up being incarcerated. For that reason, a thorough consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer is advised. A prisoner is someone who is already in jail or prison in the state of Michigan. The State must decide at the time they enter jail or prison if they are eligible to be a participant in the SAI program. The requirements for a prisoner to get into the SAI program are as follows: (1) their minimum imprisonment sentence is 24 months or less for Breaking and Entering of an occupied home or 36 months or less for any other crime; (2) they have not been charged with certain serious crimes; (3) they have not already been in the SAI program as a probationer or prisoner since October 1, 2009; (4) they are serving their first prison sentence; (5) they are mentally and physically capable of participation in the SAI program; and (6) they agree to their placement in the SAI program. If the prisoner does not follow the terms of the SAI program, they will be sent back to jail or prison to finish their sentence there. Prisoner eligibility in the SAI program also deals directly with drug crimes. A prisoner who is imprisoned for (1) manufacturing, creating, delivering, or possessing with the intent to manufacture, create, or deliver a controlled substance, prescription form, or counterfeit prescription form; or (2) possession of a controlled substance, Analogue Drug, or prescription form, and who has previously been convicted of either of those crimes, may not participate in the SAI program until after they have served their minimum sentence. The SAI program has three phases. Boot camp is the first of those phases. Once at boot camp, the participants receive tough military-style training, which consists of a regimented schedule and strenuous physical exercise. This training strips them of their pride and makes them a better fit for society. The main goal of boot camp is to get the participants to be productive, law-abiding members of society once they graduate from the program. All participants receive life skills training, and participants lacking in formal education receive training to complete their GEDs. The length of the stay at boot camp cannot be longer than 120 days. The second phase of the SAI program only applies to probationers. If a judge decides that a probationer participant requires additional help, the judge will order the participant to stay in residential rehabilitation treatment for up to 120 days. This is what is sometimes called a “halfway house.” The third phase in the SAI program is when the participant lives at home but is on probation or parole. Probationers are placed on probation, while prisoners are placed on parole. In a probationary period, the first 120 days or more is under intense supervision, which could mean almost daily visits with the participant’s probation officer. A parole period must be at least 18 months with a minimum of the first 120 days being under intense supervision. As you can see, eligibility for boot camp can be very confusing. Fortunately, we are here to help you understand what it takes to get the judge to grant you a boot camp sentence. We represent clients in drug crimes all over Michigan and we are prepared to help you.

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