Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

The prosecution bears the burden of proving a criminal defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. While the prosecution can offer both direct and circumstantial evidence to meet this burden, it cannot rely on evidence relating to the defendant’s prior bad acts or convictions to demonstrate the defendant’s character or to imply that they acted in accordance with that character during the commission of the alleged offense. As explained in a recent Michigan ruling, such evidence can be offered for other reasons, however, such as to establish intent or motive. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to understand your rights, and you should speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with distributing controlled substances and sex trafficking. He had numerous prior convictions for firearm offenses, possessing and distributing controlled substances, and receiving and controlling stolen property. The defendant filed several pre-trial motions, including a motion to preclude the prosecution from admitting evidence of his prior convictions.

Drug crimes typically carry significant penalties, and people convicted of such offenses may be sentenced to decades in prison. In some instances, though, a person serving a significant sentence for a drug crime may be able to argue for compassionate release. Demonstrating that such relief is warranted can be difficult, however, as demonstrated in a recent Michigan case. If you are charged with a drug crime, it is smart to speak to a Michigan drug crime defense attorney regarding your options for protecting your interests.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that in 2013, the defendant was charged with and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He was sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment, which was the mandatory minimum sentence. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the defendant’s prison, he moved for compassionate release. In support of his motion, he argued that his pre-existing health conditions and the fact that the First Step Act reduced the minimum sentence for similar crimes constituted compelling and extraordinary reasons that warranted an early release. He also noted that he had not garnered any infractions in prison and had completed his education. The district court nonetheless denied his motion. He then appealed.

Factors Weighed in Evaluating a Request for Compassionate Release

The appellate court found the district court’s analysis of the federal sentencing factors to be sufficient to affirm its ruling. The appellate court noted that the district court weighed the relevant sentencing factors, including the defendant’s criminal history and the characteristics of his crime, and found that they weighed heavily against granting relief. Specifically, it noted he frequently committed crimes while on supervision or parole and had an extensive criminal past. Continue Reading ›

Typically, when the police believe that someone is trafficking narcotics, they will conduct a thorough investigation, which often includes obtaining a warrant to search the individual’s home or vehicle. The police must have reasonable suspicion that a person is engaging in criminal activity to obtain a warrant, however, and if they do not, the search conducted under the warrant may be deemed unconstitutional. In a recent Michigan opinion, a court discussed what constitutes sufficient grounds to grant a warrant in a case in which the defendant was charged with several drug crimes. If you are accused of a drug offense, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Michigan criminal defense lawyer about your options.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the police obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home and vehicle based on the belief that he was selling drugs. Following the investigation, the State charged the defendant with multiple drug and weapons crimes. He then moved to suppress the evidence obtained via the search warrant on the grounds that it was overly broad and did not contain adequate evidence to establish probable cause. The court granted the motion and dismissed the charges against the defendant. The State subsequently appealed, arguing that the trial court applied an improper standard in evaluating whether the warrant should have been granted.

Probable Cause Sufficient to Justify a Search Warrant

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures and states that warrants will not be issued without probable cause, supported by affidavits that describe in detail the place that will be searched and the things that will be seized. The Michigan Constitution contains a similar provision that has been construed as providing the same protections as the Fourth Amendment. Continue Reading ›

Historically, people convicted of some drug crimes faced harsher penalties than those convicted of others. In an effort to remedy this disparity, Congress passed a law known as the First Step Act that allowed for sentence reductions when certain factors were met. Recently, in an opinion delivered in a drug offense case, a Michigan court explained what a defendant must show to demonstrate eligibility for a reduced sentence under the First Step Act. If you are charged with a drug crime, you could face significant penalties, and it is prudent to meet with a skillful Michigan criminal defense attorney to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Sentencing

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of conspiracy with the intent to distribute controlled substances, using a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, tax evasion, possessing cocaine with an intent to distribute, and engaging in a continuous criminal enterprise in the late 1980s. He was sentenced to a term of life in prison and five years of supervised release. He appealed, and his conviction for conspiracy was vacated, and his sentence was reduced. He then sought a further reduction of his sentence under the First Step Act.

Eligibility for a Reduced Sentence under the First Step Act

At the time the defendant was sentenced, crimes involving crack cocaine were treated more harshly than those related to powder cocaine. To address this sentencing disparity, in 2010, Congress issued the Fair Sentencing Act. The provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act were not retroactive; however, so in 2018 Congress passed the First Step Act. Continue Reading ›

Generally, police officers who are investigating a crime need a warrant to search a defendant. There are exceptions, though, such as in cases in which an officer reasonably suspects that a person is committing a crime. In such instances, an investigatory stop may be justified. Recently, a Michigan court discussed the right against unreasonable search and seizure in a matter in which the defendant was charged with numerous firearms and drug offenses. If you are accused of committing a crime, you should consult a trusted Michigan criminal defense attorney promptly to discuss your options.

The Defendant’s Arrest

Allegedly, the defendant was arrested at a gas station for carrying a concealed gun without a license. Apparently, an officer saw the gun in the defendant’s waistband with the handle protruding from his coat. The officer asked the defendant if he had a license to carry the gun, to which he replied he did not. The officer then confiscated the gun and arrested the defendant, after which it was discovered he had heroin in his possession as well.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with numerous weapons crimes and possession of heroin. He moved to suppress the evidence found during his arrest on the grounds that it was the product of an illegal search and seizure. Specifically, he argued the gun was not concealed but was being carried in accordance with the State’s open carry law. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the State appealed. Continue Reading ›

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