Articles Posted in Drug Charges

Whether in Michigan or any other state, nearly anyone can be accused of possessing illicit drugs, prescription or otherwise. Unfortunately, in certain circumstances an individual may be charged with possession with intent, if the prosecutor determines the substance in your possession was more than would be considered normal for personal use. Can you fight drug possession charges, and if so, how? iStock_000014717444_XXXLarge-300x200

In the U.S. all people who are charged with any criminal offense, regardless of its seriousness, are considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Some people unfortunately have the opinion that anyone facing criminal charges is guilty, however this is not the case. In fact, many are innocent. If you are facing drug possession charges, how can you fight and avoid criminal penalties that often include jail time, probation, fines, a criminal record, loss of your driving privilege, and more?

Drug possession charges are some of the most common in every state; thousands of people are arrested each year, often in connection with a minute amount of a controlled substance found on a person, or in his/her car. While defending these charges is possible, it can be challenging, however in many cases prosecutors have more serious cases to attend to and may agree to reduce or even dismiss charges. Regardless of the situation, there are several defense strategies that may prove effective depending on the facts of each individual case. These include:

Recently a Lansing man was sentenced to five years, 10 months in prison for allegedly transporting cocaine from Texas to Michigan. Carlos Ramirez-Zuniga was reportedly involved in a drug ring, much to the surprise of friends and family members. iStock_000040898380_Full-2-300x200

News reports indicate that friends and family were in disbelief after learning of the crime Ramirez-Zuniga had allegedly committed. According to the government, he was involved in a drug ring that began in 2001 in Michigan, one that “Hector,” a man whose real name was Merced Alvarado, began.

Ramirez-Zuniga’s defense lawyer stated in a sentencing memorandum that his client was concerned about his children viewing him in an unflattering light, something other than the loving, providing father he was known to be. His attorney went on to say that he is “very remorseful” for the mistakes he has made. Additionally, numerous letters were provided to the court supporting the fact that Ramirez-Zuniga was a highly regarded member of the community who was considered to be of ‘good character’ by those who knew him.

Earlier in July, Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team (KVET) investigators learned that a man was transporting crystal meth into Kalamazoo County. This led to the arrest on July 23rd of 36-year-old Buddy Parker of Fairfield, Ohio, who according to reports was trafficking the drug in from California.

Copyright David Hardman
In the course of the investigation members of the KVET team learned that Parker intended to bring in about five pounds of the crystal meth from California, an amount with a street value of more than $300,000. Parker was arrested before delivery of the drugs occurred, and was reportedly in possession of three handguns, one of which was loaded, and a substantial amount of cash. Reports also claim more meth, money, and guns were discovered when officials searched Parker’s Ohio home.

KVET, along with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office Undercover Regional Narcotics Taskforce investigated the case. The handguns and money said to be in Parker’s possession were found in his vehicle when a search was conducted by authorities.

Recently, a federal class action lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Detroit Division against Michigan State Police crime labs claimed that Fourth Amendment rights and due process are violated by the current marijuana reporting policy. medical marijuana leaf

According to news reports, the lawsuit would directly impact anyone caught with marijuana in the state, along with about 180,000 medical marijuana patients who are registered. Attorneys who filed the suit said that the MSP crime labs, in conjunction with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Dept. and Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan misreport marijuana as synthetic, and do so intentionally. The lawsuit also alleges that the marijuana policy which was written in 2013 was designed in an attempt to “strip medical marijuana patients of their rights and immunities, charge or threaten to charge citizens with greater crimes than they might have committed, obtain plea deals and increase proceeds from drug forfeiture.”

This basically stems from a lab policy instructing MSP crime lab techs to treat all TCH (the active ingredient in marijuana) as synthetic when not 100% certain it originates from a plant. While it may not sound like much, it is according to Michigan law. Essentially, individuals who are accused of manufacturing or selling synthetic THC or cannabis will face criminal charges that are far more serious than those accused of producing or selling cannabis grown as a plant.

Over the past two or three years heroin has made a strong comeback in West Michigan, resulting in not heroinonly countless deaths due to overdose, but a substantial rise in criminal charges. HIDTA, or high intensity drug trafficking areas, include Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Detroit, among others. Not too many years ago, Flint became a city that ranked continuously as one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. for several reasons, one being a sharp increase in heroin use. How does the increase of heroin addiction relate to the increase in crime in the state?

In regions where heroin addiction is high (particularly HIDTA regions), violent and property crimes are quite common. Heroin addicts often know no boundaries when it comes to getting their “fix,” and those who distribute or traffic heroin will go to almost any lengths to protect their distribution operations. Some of the most common criminal offenses committed by addicts who seek the funds to support their addictions include burglary, robbery, retail fraud, and other theft crimes.

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On Thursday, April 14, a 30-year-old Jacksonville, NC man was stopped by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Crime Reduction Team. Although news reports do not reveal why Andrew James Sanderford was stopped by officers, he now faces felony drug charges. iStock_000013484355_XXXLarge-270x300

According to news reports, the officers discovered heroin inside Sanderford’s vehicle along with drug paraphernalia. He also allegedly has outstanding warrants. Sanderford is now charged with a single count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one count of possession with intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell heroin, a felony charge. At last news reports he was in the Onslow County Jail under a $30,000 bond.

The media reports contain very few details, so we can only speculate as to why Sanderford was charged with possession with intent to distribute/deliver heroin. Police generally submit a charging request to the prosecutor, who then decides whether an individual will be charged with a crime, and what the charge will be. In cases involving illegal substances such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, or other drugs, police and prosecutors often make their decision regarding whether someone should be charged with simple possession or possession with intent based on the amount of drug in that person’s possession.

On Monday, April 4 the CATT (Crime Area Target Team) squad of the Flint Police Department received an anonymous tip regarding possible drug activity at a residence on the city’s south side. iStock_000002709890_Large-2-300x200

According to information released by the department, police knocked on the door of the residence upon arriving at the scene and found illegal narcotics which included heroin, marijuana, and crack-cocaine. Officers also discovered four firearms, one of which was stolen, and cash at the home. Police confiscated what they described as “large amounts” of drugs along with the firearms and money.

News reports from April 14 state charges against the four individuals, who were not named, are pending review by the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office.

On Sunday, April 3, a 19-year-old Cincinnati man was arrested on drug charges after he drew the attention of Madison County Sheriff’s Dept. deputies by stopping suddenly on Interstate 75. iStock_000013484355_XXXLarge-270x300

According to news reports, Christian Michael Spaulding was traveling in a southbound direction on the interstate when he went off the roadway after crossing all lanes of traffic. Upon exiting his vehicle, it continued moving forward. When deputies arrived at the scene, they noticed Spaulding’s speech was slurred, and that he was having problems maintaining his balance. Deputies asked Spaulding what was going on, to which he replied he had a flat tire. The citation claims that when asked if deputies could search his vehicle, Spaulding refused.

A canine unit was deployed by deputies, which resulted in the dog alerting to the presence of drugs in the vehicle. Upon searching, officers discovered a baggie containing four Xanax pills, six empty baggies, and several baggies of marijuana packaged for delivery.

On Saturday, March 26,a 25-year-old Odessa, NE woman was arrested after a police K-9 unit detected methamphetamine in the vehicle she was driving. Ashley Foged was stopped by Beatrice police after she failed to signal while making two right turns. iStock_000018174837_Full-2-300x200

According to court documents, an officer observed Foged’s vehicle as she turned right onto Market Street, then turned right onto 12th Street. Both times, the officer claims she failed to signal. Upon being pulled over, Foged identified herself but could not produce a driver’s license as it had been suspended earlier this month for failure to comply.

Police searched the vehicle after the K-9 unit was dispatched to circle Foged’s Mitsubishi SUV and alerted to the presence of drugs near the driver’s side door. Officers discovered a white substance on a digital scale that was determined to be methamphetamine, along with a marijuana pipe containing residue.

On Saturday, March 19 two people were arrested after police were called to investigate a domestic dispute in the 300 block of Braddock Road in Smyrna, DE. The arrests were in connection with a large amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia found at the scene, according to news reports. iStock_000013484355_XXXLarge-270x300

Cpl. Brian Donner said in a statement that police were called to the residence for a reported domestic disturbance at about 10:45 Saturday morning. The disturbance was apparently between 51-year-old Emory Monroe, and 38-year-old Genevia Wiltbank. In the course of investigating Monroe, police found he had approximately 50 grams of marijuana in his possession.

Other officers responding to the scene contacted Wiltbank, and upon further investigation the officers found reason to get a search and seizure warrant. With the help of the department’s K9 team, 200 additional grams of marijuana were discovered along with digital scales and other drug paraphernalia.