St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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Terrorist Threats

Terrorist Threats under Michigan Law Not Limited to Acts of War

Terrorist Threats

Over the last 14 years, the definition of “terrorist” has broadened significantly. Now a mere verbal threat that has nothing to do with international relations can qualify as an act of terrorism under Michigan law. One recent example involves a call to a crisis center.

During an 80-minute call to a mental health hotline, the defendant made specific threats of violence. Under Michigan law, a terrorist threat includes a threat to commit an act of terrorism that is communicated to a third party. In this case, the threat was communicated to the emergency services specialist over the phone.

The Michigan Penal Code defines an “act of terrorism” as: “a willful and deliberate act that is all of the following”:

  • a violent felony under the laws of this state, whether or not committed in this state;
  • that the person knows or has reason to know is dangerous to human life; and
  • that is intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence or affect the conduct of government or a unit of government through intimidation or coercion.

While under the law, it is no defense that the person “did not have the intent or capability of committing the act of terrorism,” a call made to a crisis line would ordinarily have the potential of protection under confidentiality privileges. But in this case, because the threats were made against a third party, those privileges were lost.

With international tensions high around the globe, Americans have not forgotten the tragic events of 9-11. The Michigan law carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years or a fine of up to $20,000, or both, upon conviction under the terrorism statute. An American jury in a criminal trial against an alleged terrorist is likely to be haunted by images of what terrorists can do. Mounting an effective criminal defense is crucial to acquittal when charged with a terrorist crime. If you find yourself in this situation, contact a criminal defense attorney in Berrien County immediately for counsel and guidance on mitigating the charges against you.

For the past 45 years, Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC has been one of the leading law firms in Michigan. Our prominent, reputable and highly experienced trial lawyers are here to fight for you and your family. For further information or to schedule an appointment please visit or contact us at 269.982.1100.

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Michigan Medical Marihuana Act - MMMA

Michigan Supreme Court Broadens MMMA Definition of Paraphernalia

Michigan Medical Marihuana Act - MMMA

Office supplies and drug paraphernalia. One would think that the two have nothing in common. But according to a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision, a simple sticky note can fall within the definition of paraphernalia under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

Maybe the first impression would be that the sticky note was used as a rolling paper. But no: it actually met the definition of “legal drug paraphernalia” because it had writing on it that was relevant to the harvest dates of plants being grown under the Act.

The case arose out of a raid on the home of a family with a state-approved medical marijuana user. Neighbors had complained about a strong smell coming from the home’s basement. When the police entered the home, even though the husband had a valid permit, violations of the laws permitting the growth and harvest of medical marijuana on the premises were found, including an unlocked door which violated the Act’s requirement that the substance be grown only in an enclosed, locked space.

Because of the violations, the husband and wife were arrested and charged with felonies of possessing and manufacturing marijuana in violation of the Act. The question in the case is whether the wife should have immunity because her spouse was authorized to grow the substances.

The Court’s ruling was fairly narrow: while it said that the sticky notes could not be used as evidence against the wife, it could not rule that she qualified for “mere presence” immunity because the husband was not in compliance with the requirements of the Act, i.e., leaving the marijuana in an unlocked space. Her case has been sent back to the trial court in her county to determine whether she is in fact immune from further prosecution, but prosecutors must prove their case without the sticky notes with her handwriting on them.

Another recent Michigan Supreme Court case ruled that the defendant under an MMMA case has the burden of proving his or her immunity and must do so by a preponderance of the evidence. So this may also affect the wife’s ability to avoid prison time.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of this case, it is an excellent illustration of how Michigan courts’ interpretation of the MMMA remains in flux. The state Supreme Court has ruled on nine cases in the seven years since the Act was passed and each one adds to the body of law that will be used to acquit or convict those charged with violations of the Act.

As the body of law develops, those who have been approved to use medical marijuana and those who may be seeking approval would benefit from the counsel of an experienced and prominent drug attorney in Berrien County to make sure that their rights are protected.

For further information or to schedule an appointment with one of our leading drug and criminal defense attorneys at Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC please visit or contact us at 269.982.1100 .

Source: Lansing State Journal, “Sticky note can’t convict in marijuana cases, state Supreme Court rules,” Bill Laitner, June 13, 2015

Secondary Source: Michigan Live, “Michigan Supreme Court: ‘Inconsistencies’ in medical marijuana law still causing ‘confusion’,” Jonathan Oosting, July 29, 2015

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