Possession Charges

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Under Michigan Law, possession of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor offense. If you are charged with possession of marijuana, the possible penalties you face include jail time, probation, court fines and costs, and driver’s license sanctions. The possible penalties are more clearly explained below.

Depending on how you were charged, under state law or under local ordinance, the possible penalties you face differ.


Possession of marijuana charged under state law have the following possible penalties:
  • Maximum one year in jail sentence
  • Maximum $2,000.00 in fines
  • 180 days suspended driver’s license with first 30 days hard suspension
  • - A hard suspension means absolutely no driving.
  • Maximum 24 months of probation

Possession of Marijuana charged under a local ordinance have the following possible penalties:

  • Maximum 93-days in jail
  • Maximum $500 in fines
  • 180 days suspended driver’s license with first 30 days hard suspension
  • - A hard suspension means absolutely no driving.
  • Maximum 12 months of probation


All drug related charges are taken seriously, even if you are a first-time offender. However, if it is your first time being charged with a drug related crime there are certain statutes which may help keep you from obtaining a criminal record.


If this is your first drug offense, then you will meet the requirements for MCL 333.7411. This statute is referred to as “7411”. If your first offense is due to use or possession of a controlled substance then you may be eligible for 7411 status. A petition for 7411 is always within the discretion of the judge. However, it is important to see if the prosecutor will agree to a petition for 7411 prior asking the judge.

If you receive 7411 status and successfully complete all terms of your probation then there will be a nonpublic record of the arrest, court proceedings, and disposition of the criminal charge kept by the department of state police.

Since no judgment of guilt will be entered on your public record, the Secretary of State will not impose driver’s license sanctions, it will not appear on a background check and you do not have to live with the stigma of having a drug conviction on your public record.

It is important to remember that if you violate the terms of your probation the judge may revoke 7411 status and enter a judgement of guilt on your public record. It is always important to follow the terms of your probation, especially if you receive 7411 status. Remember, you only have once chance at a 7411 deal, whether you succeed or not!


A significant amount of possession of marijuana charges occur when an individual has been pulled over for a traffic offense.

If you are pulled over a police officer needs a search warrant to search your vehicle, however there are some exceptions to the warrant requirement.

One exception is the plain view/plain smell doctrine. During a lawful traffic stop, if an officer can see marijuana in plain view or the odor of marijuana comes from your vehicle, then the officer has probable cause to search your vehicle.

A second exception is consent. During a lawful traffic stop an officer may ask if they can search the vehicle or if there is anything illegal inside the vehicle. If proper consent is given, then the officer can search your vehicle and seize drugs they find. If the driver or a passenger admits to illegal substances being in the vehicle, then the officer can also search your vehicle.

When placed in a situation with police officers, many people become afraid and either give consent without realizing they are waiving their rights or admit there are illegal substances in the vehicle. Many people do not know that they can refuse a search when a police officer is asking for their consent. Refusing a search is your right if the officer does not have a warrant or does not have probable cause.

With all of the television shows about law enforcement and individuals encounters with police officers, we have all heard the reading of Miranda Warnings. These are warnings inform a person that they have the right to remain silent and it cannot be used against them. It can be confusing for people to understand their rights. That’s why we are here! Courts have determined that a traffic stop is a “brief detention” as oppose to “police custody”. This makes it more confusing for individuals, because Miranda Warnings are triggered when an individual is in “policy custody”. Therefore, you may not feel that you have the right to remain silent or refuse to give an officer consent to search your vehicle during a stop.

Drivers and passengers should always remember:

  1. You do not have to answer questions from police officers in which you may incriminate yourself;
  2. If you feel you may incriminate yourself by answering a police officer’s questions, invoke your right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment;
  3. Your silence cannot be used against you; and
  4. Always be respectful to police officers and law enforcement. Educating yourself on your rights, when you can invoke them and what you can do in situations where you faced with police officers is crucial.


Jail time is a possibility in possession of marijuana cases, however it is unlikely for first time offenders. Although it depends on what judge and what jurisdiction you are in, most sentences will include a term of probation, fines, costs and driver’s license sanctions. Some courts will sentence you to reporting probation which means that you will have to report to a probation officer regularly. Other courts will sentence you to non-reporting probation which means that you will report to your probation officer the first month of your probation, the last month of your probation or you will not have to report to a probation officer at all. Even if you are sentenced to non-reporting probation you will likely still have a probation officer assigned to your case.

Sanctions on your driver’s license are not only inconvenient but can be very difficult for an individual charged with possession of marijuana. It is mandated by statute that your license will be suspended if you are convicted of possession of marijuana. A judge has no authority to negotiate this portion of the sentence if you are convicted. Your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days, or six months, with a hard suspension for the first 30 days. A hard suspension means that there is absolutely no driving. The judge does have the authority, after the 30-day hard suspension, to allow you to drive on a restricted license. This means that the judge will place restrictions on where you can drive. This often includes being able to drive to school, work, medical appointments and court.