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MCL Section 333.7405

Michigan Public Health Code Section 7405 (MCL 333.7405): Maintaining a Drug House

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

MCL 333.7405(1)(d) criminalizes “maintaining a drug house.” This provision is a wide-ranging prohibition on owning or maintaining a building or vehicle that is (1) frequented by people to illegally use drugs, (2) used for keeping illegal drugs, or (3) used to sell illegal drugs. A maintaining a drug house charge is often ancillary to an underlying charge of possession, delivery, or manufacture of a controlled substance.

Maintaining a drug house has three elements, all of which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. First, the defendant knowingly kept or maintained a building, dwelling, vehicle, vessel, or other place.
  2. Second, the building, dwelling, vehicle, vessel, or other place was
    • Frequented by persons for the purpose of illegally using controlled substances
    • Used for illegally keeping controlled substances
    • Used for illegally selling controlled substances
  3. Third, the defendant knew that the building, dwelling, vehicle, vessel, or other place was frequented or used for such illegal purposes.

What does “kept or maintained” mean? The Michigan Supreme Court has held that the prosecution need not prove that the property was used exclusively for illicit drug activity. But the illicit drug activity must be a substantial purpose of the property’s users. And the use must be continuous to some degree. Incidental use or a single, isolated incident is not enough.

2. Examples

A young man lives with his parents. The young man often has friends over late at night, and they all hang out in the basement. Acting on a tip that the young man and his friends are using drugs, police obtain a search warrant for the house. When they execute the warrant, they find the young man and his friends using heroin in the basement. The parents are arrested for maintaining a drug house.

Police come to suspect that drugs are being sold out of a local house. They surveil the house and see cars frequently coming and going. They stop one of the cars, and the driver admits that he bought cocaine from the woman who owns the house. Police go to the house, break down the door, and find the woman selling cocaine to another customer.

3. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, MCL 333.7401
  2. Possession of a controlled substance, MCL 333.7403.
  3. Owning or possessing property or equipment used to manufacture controlled substances, MCL 333.7401c

4. Defenses to Maintaining a Drug House

Common defenses to maintaining a drug house include (1) lack of knowledge, (2) lack of continuous use, and (3) improper search.

Take the parents whose son was shooting up heroin with his friends in the basement. Suppose the parents had no idea that the son and his friends were using the basement to do drugs. In that case, the parents would have a lack-of-knowledge defense. Say the parents’ bedroom is on the second floor, and say both parents go to sleep early because they work in the morning. If those facts can be corroborated, they would lend substantial support to the lack-of-knowledge defense. (And, depending on the circumstances, the prosecution may be unable to prove that the son’s drug use was continual rather than a one-time occurrence.)

Now take the cocaine-dealing woman who came to the police’s attention. The evidence against her is pretty strong right? Not quite, because the police made a major blunder. Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, police cannot engage in “unreasonable searches and seizures.” Ordinarily, this means that the police cannot enter a house without a warrant. Here, then, any evidence gathered from the warrantless search of the woman’s house will be inadmissible in court. Could the woman still be charged based on the driver’s testimony? Sure. But say the driver turns out to be an uncooperative witness. The prosecution’s case may be severely compromised, forcing them to dismiss the charges.

5. Penalties

Maintaining a drug house is a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

6. Criminal Defense for Maintaining a Drug House

Prosecutors see drug houses as scourges on their communities, and they’re eager to shut them down. If you’re under investigation for our have been charged with maintaining a drug house, don’t expect leniency. You need to call a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Grabel & Associates has been in business for more than 20 years and has handled hundreds of drug cases. Our highly respected attorneys know what it takes to obtain the best result in your case.

For more information about maintaining a drug house and to talk about your case, contact Grabel & Associates at (800) 342-7896.

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