Minor in Possession

Court of Appeals Says First Offender MIPs Cannot Be Given Probation

For reasons that escape me, district judges around the State of Michigan have decided to declare World War III on minors in possession of alcohol. Even though most of the violators are young adults in that district, who are often honors students, and are college bound (or in college), many district judges have felt duty bound to stretch the punishments for minors in possession beyond those required by law. For first offenders, many courts have attempted to go beyond what is the statutory maximum by nominally sentencing the defendant to probation but then saddling the defendant with a series of probation conditions that are rather onerous in nature.

In
People v John Williams, Court of Appeals No. 293553, the Court of Appeals ruled that probation could not be imposed on first offenders. While the ruling is unpublished and therefore not binding on other courts, it is likely to be followed. The ruling had two law and order judges on the panel and one moderate. The opinion is likely to command the respect of other judges. My friend Lisa Kirsch Satawa has a nice article on this case which people may wish to consult for more information.

Oakland Circuit Court Finds District Court Judges Cannot Impose Jail Sentence for a Probation Violation on MIP

Yesterday, Judge Kumar of the Oakland County Circuit Court put a stop to a practice that many District Court Judges throughout the state are doing. Prosecuting college students under the age of 21 for minor in possession has become the latest rage in District Courts. Daniel Sowell was a student at Oakland University who pled guilty without counsel to minor in possession. He was sentenced to eighteen months probation. The District Court sentenced Mr. Sowell to an eight day jail sentence sentence in the Oakland County Jail’s WWAM program. Judge Kumar of the Oakland County Circuit Court reversed the ruling stating that jail was not statutorily authorized for MIP violations. People v Sowell, Oakland Circuit No. 09-DA-9011-AR.
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