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People v. Baham: Meth, Personal Use, and Double Jeopardy Case

September 12, 2017 Criminal Law and Procedure

In the case of People v. Baham, the Michigan Court of Appeals discusses manufacturing and possession charges for methamphetamine.

Defendant plead guilty to manufacturing methamphetamine, operating or maintaining a methamphetamine laboratory, and possession of methamphetamine.

At the plea hearing, the Defendant explained he had components and chemicals to make methamphetamine, and that he cooked or made methamphetamine.

On appeal, the Defendant argued that he was not manufacturing because the meth was for personal use, and also that his convictions of manufacturing and possession violated the Double Jeopardy clause.

Personal Use

The Defendant argued that his manufacturing of meth falls into the personal use exception of the statute. The personal use provision of the manufacturing statute involves the preparation or compounding of a controlled substance by an individual for his or her own use.

The Court did not accept that argument. The Court looked to the statute which defined manufacturing as production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion, or processing of a controlled substance. Personal use only involves the preparation and compounding of the substance. The difference, the Court said, is that manufacture contemplates a higher degree of work to create the substance than just getting the substance ready to use.

The personal use exception, the Court held, only applies to substances already in existence. For example, taking weed and putting into a bong to smoke would be preparation. However, growing the weed would be manufacturing. The Court said it may be true that a person is manufacturing for personal use, but that does not relieve liability under the statute. Whether a person is manufacturing meth or any other drug for personal use or distribution is still manufacturing.

Here’s what the Court ultimately ruled on this issue: “We hold that one may not claim the personal use exception for making or cooking methamphetamine. Making or cooking methamphetamine clearly involves the creation of methamphetamine, meaning that it constitutes production, propagation, conversion, or processing of methamphetamine as opposed to the mere ‘preparation or compounding’ of existing methamphetamine for personal use. As such, the personal use exception does not apply, and one who knowingly makes or cooks methamphetamine is guilty of manufacturing methamphetamine without regard to whether the methamphetamine will be distributed or used personally.”

Double Jeopardy

Defendant also argued that his plea violated the Double Jeopardy rule in his conviction of both manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine. Specifically, Defendant argued a person cannot manufacture methamphetamine without also possessing it. Therefore, there is no element of possession that is separate from manufacture.

To determine whether two offenses would violate Double Jeopardy, we look to whether a person can be convicted of one crime without necessarily be convicted of the other crime. That is, whether there is an element of the crime that is not present in the other crime.

To be convicted of manufacturing, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person manufactured a controlled substance, the substance manufactured was methamphetamine, and the person knew he was manufacturing methamphetamine.

To be convicted of possession, the prosecution must prove that a person knowingly and intentionally possessed methamphetamine.

The difference between the two crimes, the Court said, is that manufacturing does not require proof of possession. Possession does not include proof of manufacturing. Because each crime contains an element not contained in the other crime, a person can be convicted of both crimes and Double Jeopardy would not be violated.

The Court of Appeals did say that a person who manufactures a controlled substance may very well possess the substance as well. The Court distinguished the situation by saying that a person could be in the process of manufacturing the substance but doesn’t have the completed substance or may not have the control or dominion (elements of possession) of the final substance. Therefore, manufacturing a substance does not necessarily means possessing the substance.

The Court in the end upheld the Defendant’s convictions and prison sentence.

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a scheduled II substance. Read about Michigan Methamphetamine Laws for specific information on meth laws. Meth is a stimulant drug in the amphetamine class.

Get in Touch

Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com.

Sam Bernstein is a Washtenaw County Drug Lawyer.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108

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