Keeping a Drug Possession Charge OFF of your Criminal Record

Drug Possession Offenses are on the rise and becoming a common occurrence throughout the tri-county area.

Often times the scenario is one in which a client was stopped for a civil infraction (speeding, disobeying a traffic signal, etc) and then consents to a search of their vehicle. While the Police Officer is engaging in the search of the vehicle he/she happens to find a single Vicodin or Ambien pill for which the client does not have a valid (or has an expired) prescription for. This simple stop for a civil infraction has turned into a Felony charge for Drug Possession!

As with any drug charge, a conviction can severely hamper your ability to live your life. In addition to the possibility of jail time; there is a mandatory driver’s license suspension by the Secretary of State, intensive Probation, heavy fines, and the stigma of a drug conviction on your record (try to get a job or loan with this on your record).

Luckily, there is a way to avoid many of the aforementioned sanctions. Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) 333.7411 (more commonly known as “7411”) is a way for first time drug offenders to eventually have the case dismissed.

When I am retained on a case such as this I first check to see if the Officer’s search of the vehicle is valid and meets my Client’s 4th Amendment Rights. If the search is in fact legal, I will attempt to negotiate a plea under 7411.

7411 can be used on Misdemeanor or Felony drug possession or drug use charges ONLY. Unlike other similar statutes, such as HYTA, there is no age restriction on receiving 7411 status. The only caveat is that the person has not been previously convicted of a drug possession or delivery charge. An individual in Michigan only gets 1 opportunity in life for 7411 status.

Once the 7411 plea is taken by the court the case is deferred without entering a judgment of guilt. Essentially, this keeps the whole case off the client’s record in the first place. At this time the Judge issues the terms of probation. If the client complies with all of these terms the case will be discharged and dismissed. However, if the person violates his or her probation, the Court has the discretion of removing the privilege of the 7411 status and incarcerating him or her. In this event, the conviction would become both an adjudication of guilt and a public record (Which nullifies all the work done by your attorney).

The court file and record of this proceeding is closed to the public. The recipient of 7411 status can truthfully tell employers, schools, or anyone else that they have not been convicted of a drug crime. The nonpublic record of dismissal under section 7411 is accessible only in limited circumstances such as for law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys in the performance of their duties or for law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys to find out if the Defendant received 7411 already in the past.
The receipt of a plea agreement under 7411 is not automatic, even for an individual who has no prior record. 7411 status is a privilege within the discretion of the Court. It is always advisable to have legal representation whenever you or a loved one is charged with a criminal offense.

Please feel free to contact me with any legal questions or concerns.