Penalties for Repeat Drug Offenders
When you face a first conviction for a drug offense in Michigan, there often are options for alternative sentencing, particularly when the offense is for drug use or possession and is related to a drug addiction that might be treatable through a substance abuse program. However, as an offender faces additional drug charges and convictions, Michigan law takes a strict stance on penalties.
Michigan law requires enhanced penalties once someone becomes what is known as a habitual offender. In the case of repeat drug offenders, that might mean double the usual sentence — or even life in prison without parole — for a second or subsequent drug conviction. The first conviction doesn’t have to be in Michigan. A prior conviction in any state in the U.S. can lead to enhance penalties if you then are convicted of a drug offense in Michigan. You will need a Michigan drug attorney to review your case and provide you with options.
The situation for habitual offenders may be even more complicated in the wake of a Michigan Supreme Court decision ruling that judges should have the power to decide sentences in criminal cases, and should not be limited by sentences written into law by the Michigan State Legislature. The court said that judges have to impose sentences that are “reasonable,” but that could in theory result in penalties that are even more severe than the ones on the books for repeat offenders. A skilled Detroit drug defense lawyer can discuss how this change might affect your case.
Schedule 1 and 2 Narcotics and Cocaine
Michigan takes an especially harsh stance on people convicted of more than one of certain types of offenses involving cocaine or narcotic drugs listed on Schedules 1 and 2 of the controlled substance schedules. Schedule 1 and 2 narcotics include drugs such as heroin and narcotic pain medicines such as Vicodin or OxyContin.
Under Section 333.7413 of the Michigan Public Health Code, you face a life sentence without parole when you receive a second or subsequent conviction for:
- Manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with the intent to deliver more than 50 grams of a Schedule 1 or 2 narcotic or cocaine
- Possession of more than 50 grams of a Schedule 1 or 2 narcotic or cocaine
- Conspiracy to commit one of the above offenses
A second or subsequent conviction for trafficking or possession of more than 50 grams of cocaine or narcotics also is not eligible for suspension of any portion of the sentence, and is not eligible for probation under the habitual drug offender statute.
Drug Trafficking Near Schools
The habitual drug offender statute sets an enhanced penalty of at least 5 years, or double the penalty under Section 333.7410, and three times the fine, when you are over 18 and receive a second or subsequent conviction for:
- Delivering a Schedule 1 or 2 narcotic or cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school or library
- Possession with intent to deliver a Schedule 1 or 2 narcotic or cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school or library
A second or subsequent conviction under this portion of the habitual drug offender statute is not eligible for suspension of any portion of the sentence, and is not eligible for probation.
Other Drug Offenses
The habitual drug offender statute sets an enhanced penalty of up to twice the customary sentence for a second or subsequent conviction for any other drug offense listed in the Controlled Substance Act in the Public Health Code. For example, the sentence for a first conviction for use of heroin — a Schedule 1 narcotic — is up to 1 year in jail. Under the habitual drug offender statute, a second or subsequent conviction for heroin use would be punishable with up to 2 years, or double the sentence set forth in the use of a controlled substance statute.
How a Michigan Drug Attorney Can Help
If you’re been charged with a drug offense and have a prior conviction on your record, you could face enhanced penalties if you are convicted a second time. Depending on the nature of the offense and your prior conviction, you could end up spending the rest of your life in prison on a second drug conviction.
With the help of an experienced Michigan drug attorney who will aggressively represent you in court, and depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have a be able to fight the charge. If your lawyer can craft a strong defense strategy, or if the prosecutor lacks enough evidence to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, you may have a chance at getting the charge dismissed and avoiding the enhanced penalties.
If a conviction seems likely based on the evidence, then a skilled defense lawyer can try to convince a judge that circumstances exist that provide compelling reasons not to impose the enhanced minimum sentences in the habitual drug offender statute.
If you’re facing a second or subsequent drug conviction, your best hope at avoiding a lengthy prison sentence may be to consult with a Michigan drug attorney who has experiencing representing repeat drug offenders, and who knows the area court where your case is pending, and how prosecutors and judges are likely to approach a case like yours.
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