Counterfeit and Synthetic Drug Charges
In addition to laws related to street drugs or illegal use of prescription drugs, Michigan also has a number of laws related to fake drugs — drugs that are similar to controlled substances, or drugs or other substances sold as something they’re not. Fake drugs fall into a few categories in terms of Michigan laws.
- Synthetic Drugs — Under Michigan drug laws, synthetic drugs are known as controlled substance analogues. They’re drugs that are chemically similar to controlled substances and have some narcotic, stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on a user similar to a controlled substance listed in Schedule 1 and Schedule 2, but aren’t listed in the controlled substances schedules. An example of a controlled substance analogue might include synthetic substances such as K2, Spice, or “bath salts.”
- Counterfeit Drugs — Counterfeit drugs are substances that are made to look like controlled substances, either by being packaged or labeled as a controlled substance, or using a mark or imprint that makes a drug look like a controlled substance. An example of a counterfeit drug might include an aspirin tablet that you relabeled to look like Oxycontin and then gave or sold to someone else. Even though the substance itself is harmless, by representing that it’s a narcotic you can be charged with trafficking in a counterfeit controlled substance.
- Imitation Controlled Substances — Imitation drugs are a little different than counterfeit drugs in that they are not actually controlled substances. You can be charged with trafficking in imitation controlled substances when you represent that some substance that isn’t a drug is a controlled substance, such as selling oregano to someone and telling them it’s marijuana.
A charge involving a synthetic, counterfeit, or imitation drug is nothing to take lightly and shrug off. Charges involving synthetic, counterfeit, or imitation drugs can be very serious depending on the circumstances. A conviction can result in:
- Years in prison
- Expensive fines
- Loss of your driver’s license
- A permanent criminal record as a drug offender
- Loss of your job or being turned down when you apply for a job
- Being turned down for rental housing
- Loss of your professional license or denial of an application for a license to teach or practice medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law, or another profession
- Loss of your immigration visa or work permit or denial of citizenship, and possible deportation if you’re a non-U.S. citizen
If you or a family member has been charged with a crime involving a synthetic drug, counterfeit drug, or imitation drug, you should consult with an experienced Michigan drug lawyer as soon as is possible to ensure that your rights and future are protected.
It’s possible that the penalties for a conviction may vary from the statutory sentences and fines reflected on this page. The Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled that judges, and not the Legislature, should have the discretion to set “reasonable” sentences in criminal cases. Because of this change it’s even more important to talk to a Michigan criminal defense lawyer about your case and the possible outcomes.
Use of Synthetic Drugs
Michigan criminalizes use of both controlled substances and synthetic drugs in Section 333.7404 of the Public Health Code. Use of a synthetic drug is a misdemeanor offense that may be punished with a jail sentence of up to 1 year and a fine of up to $1,000.
Possession of Synthetic Drugs
Michigan treats drug possession charges seriously, including possession of synthetic drugs. Under Section 333.7403 of the Public Health Code, possession of a controlled substance analogue is a felony offense that may be punished with a prison sentence of up to 2 years and a fine of up to $2,000.
Trafficking in Counterfeit or Synthetic Drugs
In Michigan, you may be charged with a criminal offense of trafficking in counterfeit drugs or controlled substance analogues when, with relation to a counterfeit drug or controlled substance analogue, you are suspected of:
- Possessing with intent to deliver
Trafficking in counterfeit drugs or controlled substance analogues is a serious offense in Michigan. It’s a felony in every instance, regardless of the type of substance involved. The penalties you face if convicted under Section 333.7402 of the Michigan Public Health Code include:
- Counterfeit Schedule 5 substance — This is a felony offense that may be penalized with a prison sentence of up to 2 years and a fine of up to $2,000.
- Counterfeit Schedule 4 substance — This is a felony offense that may be penalized with a prison sentence of up to 4 years and a fine of up to $2,000.
- Counterfeit Schedule 1, 2, or 3 substance other than narcotics or cocaine — This is a felony offense that may be penalized with a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Counterfeit Schedule 1 or 2 narcotics or cocaine — This is a felony offense that may be penalized with a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Controlled Substance Analogue — This is a felony offense that may be penalized with a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Imitation Controlled Substances
Section 333.7341 of the Michigan Public Health Code addresses offenses related to imitation controlled substances and their penalties. The penalties for use of an imitation drug, possession with intent to use as a drug, or trafficking in imitation drugs aren’t as severe as for synthetic or counterfeit drugs, but a conviction for trafficking is a felony and can carry serious consequences.
- Use or Possession with Intent to Use — This is a civil infraction that may be penalized with a fine of up to $100 plus costs.
- Manufacturing, Delivery, or Possession with Intent — This is a felony offense that may be penalized with a prison sentence of up to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Drug Charges and Your Driver’s License
Conviction of a drug offense in Michigan — even one involving a synthetic drug or a counterfeit drug — results in a mandatory driver’s license suspension. The suspension periods under Michigan law include:
- First Conviction — 6-month license suspension, and possibility of a restricted license after 30 days
- Second or Subsequent Conviction in 7 years — 1-year license suspension, and possibility of a restricted license after 60 days
Alternative Sentencing Programs
For some convictions related to synthetic or counterfeit drugs, you may be eligible to participate in an alternative sentencing program in lieu of going to jail. A judge is more likely to agree to alternative sentencing if your offense was for use or possession rather than a trafficking offense. An experienced Michigan drug lawyer can explain if an alternative sentencing program might be an option for you.
In general, sentencing alternatives may include:
- Substance abuse treatment
- Deferment of your sentence, with the ability to keep the charge off of your permanent record if you meet conditions imposed by the court
- A 1-year delay of your sentence, with the ability to avoid jail if you meet conditions imposed by the court, but the charge will show up on your record
Defending Your Counterfeit Drug Charge
Charges involving synthetic, counterfeit, or imitation drugs can be complicated and involve technical legal ideas, chemistry, and other detailed information. You may have your best chance at fighting your charge with the help of skilled Michigan drug attorneys who knows the laws, the courts, and the technical information involved in these kinds of cases.
A lawyer may use any of a number of common defense strategies in your case. What strategies might work, and the likelihood of success, is highly individualized and depends on the circumstances of your arrest, your charge, and the evidence being used against you by police and prosecutors. However, some typical defenses a Michigan drug attorney may raise in a case involving synthetic, counterfeit, or imitation drugs may include:
- You didn’t intend to use the substance as a drug
- You didn’t know you were in possession of the substance
- You didn’t know what the substance was
- You didn’t intend to traffic in the substance
- Evidence was obtained without use of a search warrant
- Evidence was obtained through use of an invalid search warrant
- Evidence was obtained through the use of illegal wiretapping or surveillance
- Your rights were violated when you were arrested
The experienced and qualified Michigan drug attorneys at Davis Law Group PLLC can review your case and explain your options for a defense, as well as explaining what to expect in a Michigan courtroom.