The year 2018 brings a change to the Minor in Possession law in Michigan.
Pre 2018, an MIP was a criminal misdemeanor, now a first offense is a civil infraction. This is under State of Michigan law, but most local cities, townships, villages and municipalities are sure to follow this change in the law.
When I speak to other defense lawyers, judges, prosecutors etc, all of them view this as a problem solving resolution, which is fair and equitable and everyone wins. While I agree decriminalizing Minor in Possession this is a good thing, there are far reaching unrecognized consequences to this change of the law. Handling this new civil infraction in a reckless manner will end up worse in the end than how it was treated under the old law.
Under the pre-2018 law, someone charged with minor in possession would usually go under a non-public deferment program, where the guilty plea would be withheld and never entered against the person. The case itself would not be public. Yes that person would be on probation and be subject to things like counseling, community service, alcohol testing etc, but in the end, nobody ever needs to know about it.
Under the new law, a judge can still order the defendant to participate in community service, alcohol testing and substance abuse treatment. Failure to comply will turn the case into a misdemeanor with little opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction.
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