Michigan Criminal Law: Drug Crimes; Possession charges

Allegations involving acts of narcotics possession, use, manufacturing, or delivery of varying degrees are prevalent in the criminal justice system. Possessing certain types of illegal narcotics, notably mixtures of cocaine and heroin, or “schedule 1 narcotics” MCL 333.7212, is a felony with varying degrees of potential charges depending upon the alleged quantity, ranging from low-level felonies to capitol level charges. MCL 333.7403.

Possession is defined as meaning, according to the Model Jury Instructions, “that either:

(1) the person has actual physical control of the [substance / thing] , as I do with the pen I’m now holding, or

(2) the person has the right to control the [substance / thing] , even though it is in a different room or place.

Possession may be sole, where one person alone possesses the [substance / thing] .

Possession may be joint, where two or more people each share possession.

It is not enough if the defendant merely knew about the [state substance or thing] ; the defendant possessed the [state substance or thing] only if [he / she] had control of it or the right to control it, either alone or together with someone else.

Crim. JI. 12.7.

Possible penalties for conviction vary significantly depending upon the alleged quantity of the mixture.

For example, the maximum penalties for possession of a mixture of cocaine, under 25 grams, depend on whether a person has priors, the alleged facts, and other factors; however the maximum possible penalty starts at “a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $25,000.00, or both.MCL 333.7403 (2)(a)(v).

There are additional tiers and ranges depending upon mixture amounts with varying maximums, until the highest alleged amounts, which result in a capitol charge. MCL 333.7403. For example, if a person is convicted of having “1,000 grams or more of any mixture containing that substance,” they are looking at “a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of years or a fine of not more than $1,000,000.00, or both.” MCL 333.7403 (2)(a)(i).
As the Model Jury Instruction explains, and while the maximum penalties may vary depending on the alleged mixture amount, in order to prove possession of schedule 1 narcotics like cocaine beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor must show the following:
(1) The defendant is charged with the crime of knowingly or intentionally possessing [ (state weight) of a mixture containing] 1 a controlled substance, ______. To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
(2) First, that the defendant possessed2 a controlled substance.
(3) Second, that the substance possessed was ______.
(4) Third, that the defendant knew that [he / she] was possessing [list substance] .
[(5) Fourth, that the substance was in a mixture that weighed (state weight) .] 1
[(6) Fifth, that the substance was not obtained by a valid prescription given to the defendant.] 3
[(7) Sixth, that the defendant was not otherwise authorized to possess this substance.] 4

M. Crim. JI. 12.5.

Please note that this particular page is focused on possession of mixtures of schedule 1 narcotics such as cocaine, crack-cocaine, and heroin. MCL 333.7212. The particular jury instruction above contained bracketed information specifically for this type of charge. M. Crim. JI. 12.5.

There are significant differences in the severity and type of charge if a person is charged with other types of schedule narcotics or charged with possession of marijuana. Possession of certain quantities of marijuana, for example, if convicted, is only a misdemeanor charge. MCL 333.7403 (2)(d).
Our experienced trial attorneys fight hard for our Michigan clients. We represent clients statewide. For a free initial consultation, feel free to contact us at (517) 507-5077.

For more information on the Michigan narcotics charge, Manufacture/delivery of narcotics, click here.

For information on the Michigan criminal narcotics charge, “Use,” click here.
Anyone charged, of course, is presumed innocent.The prosecutor would need to prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt if the matter proceeded to trial. Simply because a person is charged does not mean that ultimately, they will be convicted.
If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, I encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Circumstances may vary significantly. If you need specific legal advice, please privately consult with a lawyer.
If you are charged with an offense and cannot afford to pay for your own defense, the court may appoint you an attorney payable at the public’s expense. You have a right to counsel.