William McCleese, a 57-year-old Roseville man, was charged with maintaining a drug house and manufacturing between 5 and 45 kilograms of marijuana in 2010, along with his wife. Now, following rulings made by the Michigan Court of Appeals recently, the charges against McCleese may be reduced or dismissed.
In June of 2010, Roseville police searched McCleese’s home on Secretariat Street after obtaining a search warrant, allegedly obtained when an officer presented misleading information to a Macomb County judge. Upon searching the home, police located 55 marijuana plants growing in the basement under special lights. After McCleese and his wife, Sharon, presented patient and caregiver cards through the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, both were arrested. According to police and prosecutors, the number of plants growing in the home exceeded the 12 plants per patient allowed under the Medical Marijuana Act.
The charges against Sharon McCleese were dismissed, and on Friday, March 22, the court of appeals claimed the search warrant used by police to search the home was “faulty” due to the affidavit consisting of self-serving assertions and conclusory statements which were based on the use of rumors or reputations that drug activity was going on in the home. The appeals court said that the search warrant should have been denied, and that the 39th District Court magistrate should have disregarded the claims.
The appeals court panel consisted of three jurists, who said that no timely evidence existed which suggested that narcotics or the proceeds of narcotics were present at the McCleese home. The panel called this a “critical” omission, saying that the affidavit lacked evidence such as a controlled buy, a confidential informant, or otherwise.
McCleese had $115,000 in Comerica Bank accounts, money which authorities claimed had been garnered from activities involving narcotic trafficking or legitimate money co-mingled with drug proceeds, a claim that the appeals court called a “bald accusation.”
At his trial in a Macomb County Circuit Court, Judge Diane Druzinski agreed with prosecutors and did not allow McCleese’s defense to use the MMA as an affirmative defense based on the claim that he had too many plants and did not keep the marijuana plants in a closed, locked facility according to MMA requirements. However, the appeals court said that McCleese can seek that the charges against him be dismissed based on the decision in People v. King in May of 2012 made by the state Supreme court, claiming that the marijuana is being properly grown under the MMA, regardless of whether he meets all of the requirements in regards to number of plants and storage.
If McCleese does have the charges against him dismissed it will mean he does not have to forfeit his two homes, five vehicles, $115,000 in cash and other property prosecutors initiated forfeiture proceedings against in 2011.
Michigan criminal appeals attorneys know that frequently errors are made in the legal system; as is evident in this case, police make mistakes as well. Because an individual is arrested and convicted of a criminal offense does not necessarily mean that it is the “end of the road,” and that no further action can be taken.
If you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime or feel that the sentence you have been given does not fit the crime, consult with an experienced Michigan criminal appeals lawyer who is skilled and knowledgeable in the appeals process.