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Keeping Drug Possession Charges Off the Record

Aug 9th, 2018 Criminal Penalties Keeping Drug Possession Charges Off the Record

Having drug charges on your criminal record can be a life-changing experience.  Such charges can impact your job, your income, and your future.  However, depending on the circumstances, your attorney may be able to help you keep your drug charges off your permanent criminal record.  These methods can present you with great advantages and can help you to minimize the damage a drug conviction could cause.

The best way to avoid a criminal record is to find a lawyer who can win your case. Consequently, finding and hiring an experienced drug possession lawyer is a good start. Your lawyer will look at the facts of the case, including the results of a chemical test, as well as the police conduct, to determine what legal defenses, if any, apply to your case.  These will be discussed with you so that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.  Your trial options should be discussed with your lawyer as well.

Once all your legal options and defenses have been pursued, the next step is to decide if you should plead guilty.  If you do decide that this is your best option, then there are possibly two different ways to avoid a conviction even when you plead guilty.  These are called “section 7411” and HYTA.

Michigan Compiled Laws § 333.7411 is specifically designed to assist certain people from avoiding a criminal drug conviction. Certain requirements apply.  For example, you must be a first-time offender having never been convicted of a drug crime anywhere in the US at either the state or federal level.  The drug charge you are facing must be a possession or use crime only, meaning you are not charged with a delivery crime.  If you meet these requirements, then you may be eligible for a §7411, even if you are found guilty by a jury.

With a §7411 the judge does not enter a judgment of guilt.  Instead, the possible conviction is deferred pending the successful completion of a term of probation. This probation may include participation in a drug treatment court. If you violate any term or condition of the probation or drug court, then the court may enter an adjudication of guilt in which case you will have a conviction on your record. On the other hand, if you successfully complete everything expected of you, then the judge will discharge you and dismiss the proceedings. Discharge and dismissal under this section of the law are without adjudication of guilt.  Another big advantage of §7411 is that you also avoid the driver license sanction applicable for some drug possession charges such as possession of marijuana.  Also, be aware that just because you are eligible does not mean that you will get §7411.  The judge always must agree, and this too may require hard work on the part of your attorney.

An HYTA is different from a §7411 in many ways.  First, HYTA, also sometimes called YTA, is an acronym for “Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.”  HYTA is based on Michigan Compiled Laws § 762.11.  You must plead guilty to obtain HYTA and therefore cannot receive it after an unsuccessful trial.  To be eligible, the offense must have been committed on or after your seventeenth birthday but before your twenty-fourth birthday. Like §7411, being assigned to HYTA requires the judge to agree.  Also, if the offense was committed on or after your twenty-first birthday but before your twenty-fourth birthday, you can only get HYTA if the prosecutor and the judge both agree.  HYTA is like §7411 in that you will end up with no criminal record provided you are able to comply with all the terms and condition of your probation.

With HYTA the judge can order, as a condition of your probation, that you maintain employment or to attend a high school, high school equivalency program, community college, college, university, or trade school. The judge can also require you to actively seek employment.

Certain offenses are not eligible for HYTA, and these include traffic offenses like drunk driving, and many high felonies and major drug charges.

If you think you meet the requirements of either HYTA, §7411, or both, then be sure to speak with your lawyer about the other advantages and disadvantages of either option and to help you understand if you are in fact eligible.