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Use of a Controlled Substance

Most people know that they could face criminal charges for possessing or selling drugs. In Michigan, the law goes a step further than in some other states and makes it a criminal offense to use a controlled substance unless you have a valid prescription. You could find yourself charged with use of a controlled substance if you are suspected of using illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or meth — or even if you use a legal drug without a prescription, such as using an Oxycontin or Valium tablet that isn’t prescribed to you.

Even a first conviction for use of a controlled substance can be a serious misdemeanor crime, and you may feel the effects of a conviction for decades. The potential consequences of a conviction may include:

  • A jail sentence or probation
  • Thousands of dollars in fines
  • A requirement to complete substance abuse treatment
  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • A permanent criminal record as a drug offender
  • Loss of your job or inability to get hired for a job
  • Denial of rental housing
  • Loss of eligibility for federal financial aid to pay for college or university classes
  • Suspension or revocation of a professional license, such as to work as a teacher, pharmacists, nurse, doctor, or lawyer
  • Denial of an immigration visa, green card, or citizenship

However, with the right Detroit drug defense lawyer in your corner, you may be able to avoid a conviction. An experienced lawyer can fight for you and work to protect your rights as soon as you’re arrested or know that you’re under investigation — and if the circumstances are right help you avoid a conviction that may negatively impact your life for years to come.

We also recommend hiring a Michigan criminal defense lawyer to handle your case because of a recent decision by the Michigan Supreme Court that changes how sentences can be imposed. The ruling gives judges the authority to decide criminal sentences without being confined to the sentencing ranges created by the state Legislature. Judges merely have to set penalties that are “reasonable.” If you’re convicted, a lawyer can argue for more lenient sentencing.

Penalties for Use of a Controlled Substance

The possible sentence that a court may impose when you’re convicted of use of a controlled substance varies depending on the nature of the substance. Under Section 333.7404 of the Michigan Public Health Code, the penalties for a conviction may include:

  • LSD, Peyote, Mescaline, Dimethyltryptamine, psilocin, psilocybin, or Schedule 5 drug — You may be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $500.
  • Schedule 1 2, 3 or 4 controlled substance — You may be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 narcotic or cocaine — You may be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $2,000.

Drug Convictions and Your Driver’s License

Michigan law also requires that your driver’s license be suspended for any drug conviction, even if it was not related to driving in any way. Driver’s license suspensions for drug convictions are applied as follows:

First Conviction

Suspension for 6 months with no restricted license permitted for 30 days.

Second or Subsequent Conviction in 7 Years

Suspension for 1 year with no restricted license permitted for 60 days.

Sentencing Alternatives

Because a charge of use of a controlled substances is non-violent and less serious compared to other drug offenses, if you’re convicted you may be able to qualify for one of several sentencing alternatives instead of going to jail, or to reduce your jail sentence. Alternatives typically are designed to give you a chance to be rehabilitated rather than punished, in recognition that people who use drugs often are addicted and may not make rational choices.

Possible sentencing alternatives when you’re convicted of a drug use charge in Michigan may include:


You may be sentenced to probation for up to 2 years for a misdemeanor in Michigan. However, probation also may include some jail time served even if you meet all of the conditions of your probation.

Drug Court

You may be able to go through drug court and complete an inpatient or outpatient drug abuse treatment program and other conditions in lieu of going to jail.

Deferred Sentencing

If you’ve never had a prior drug conviction, you may be able to have your sentence deferred and have it not show up on your public record as long as you comply with the terms of your deferred sentence, which usually includes probation. You can only get a deferred sentence option once in your lifetime.

Delayed Sentence

If your defense attorney can convince a judge that you’re not likely to re-offend, the court may delay your sentencing for 1 year, and you may avoid jail time if you meet any conditions imposed by the court or otherwise demonstrate that you’ve turned your life around since your drug use charge. Unlike deferred sentencing, a delayed sentence will still show up on your public record.

Defending Your Use of a Controlled Substance Charge

Any kind of drug charge is something to take seriously. If convicted, you face serious consequences that can disrupt your life, your job, and your family. You might go to jail, or have to pay fines that could put you in a financial hardship. You’ll lose your driver’s license for at least six months, which could mean you have no way to get to work, pick your kids up from school, or just go to the grocery store.

When you’re charged with use of a controlled substance, you need an aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyer on your side who will fight your charge in court — someone who won’t back down and will be willing to take your case to trial to make sure you get justice and that your rights are preserved.

To convict you of a drug use charge, a prosecutor has to prove that you knowingly used a controlled substance, and that you didn’t have a valid prescription. There are a number of ways that an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer can tackle the prosecutor’s arguments and the evidence against you. Possible defense strategies may include:

  • You didn’t use the drug
  • The substance was not a controlled substance
  • The controlled substance was misidentified
  • You didn’t know that the substance was a controlled substance
  • Evidence against you was obtained through an illegal search
  • Investigators used illegal wiretapping or surveillance to get evidence against you
  • You were arrested without probable cause
  • Police didn’t administer your Miranda rights when arresting you

Every case is different, and your options for a defense will depend on the circumstances of your charge. An experienced Michigan drug defense lawyer can evaluate your case and explain your options and what to expect in court.

Facing a drug charge? Contact us today.

Your initial consultation will always be free and confidential. Call (313) 818-3238 today or fill out the form below and we will help you.

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Attorney Maurice Davis