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Frequently Asked Questions About Drug Charges And Drug Crime Defense

With the prospect of jail or prison and a felony record, drug charges must be taken seriously. Our attorneys answer some common questions about drug offenses, But this FAQ is not a substitute for legal advice. Every case is different. We can address your specific questions in a free consultation at 231-735-8575.

What is the difference between ‘possession’ and ‘possession with intent’?

A charge of simple drug possession means that you were caught with illegal drugs or police found drugs and believe they belong to you. “Possession with intent” is short for possession with intent to distribute; law enforcement believes you are not merely a drug user but dealing drugs. Charges of possession with intent may be based on physical evidence such as scales, baggies and wads of cash, or based on observed transactions or text messages about meet-ups. Very often possession with intent is charged solely on the amount of drugs; law enforcement assumes that if you are in possession of a certain large quantity it must not be for personal use.

What constitutes drug trafficking?

Drug trafficking is an umbrella term for activities relating to buying, selling and/or distributing controlled substances. As with possession with intent, trafficking charges may be based chiefly on the quantity of drugs seized, or upon other evidence of sales, importing, transporting or distribution. Drug trafficking is one of the most serious drug charges, a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison for trafficking heroin and other Schedule I controlled substances.

Can police search my car for drugs?

Law enforcement cannot go “fishing” for drugs. They must have a search warrant, your permission or probable cause to conduct a search of your vehicle. They also must have a legitimate reason to pull your vehicle over in the first place. Drug charges are often challenged as Fourth Amendment violations (unlawful traffic stops or unlawful search and seizure). You do not have to consent to a search or answer questions. Politely refuse and ask to talk to a lawyer. If you do not give consent, police might still search your vehicle anyway, but they may be violating your rights in the process.

Can I be arrested for drugs that belonged to someone else?

If you were holding drugs for someone else, yes you could be charged with possession. Another common scenario is for police to charge all the occupants of a vehicle if drugs are discovered in a search. This is known as constructive possession. The prosecution must prove that you knew about the drugs.

Is marijuana illegal in Michigan?

The good news is that marijuana was decriminalized in Michigan in 2018. Both medicinal and recreational marijuana use are legal — including growing cannabis plants — but only for personal use. It is still a misdemeanor to possess more than 5 ounces of pot and it remains a felony crime to traffic in marijuana (sell to others). The bad news is that law enforcement has diverted those resources to aggressively investigating and prosecuting other drug crimes, including prescription drug offenses.

What is the penalty for possession of fentanyl?

It depends on the amount and whether you have prior drug convictions. Fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine are Schedule I controlled substances and thus carry the highest penalties. Law enforcement is cracking down especially hard on fentanyl and fentanyl-laced opiates because of the high danger of fatal overdose.

Can my driver’s license be suspended for drugs?

Yes, most drug convictions in Michigan can trigger a 30-day license suspension. After that, you may qualify for restricted driving privileges for 150 days (five months) before you are eligible for full license reinstatement.

Do You Have More Questions?

Williams & Associates has defended drug crime cases across northern Michigan and statewide. Call our Traverse City law office at 231-735-8575 or contact us online.