When it comes to Teenage and Juvenile Crime, the list has gotten shorter.  Michigan minors who occasionally sneak an alcoholic drink have caught a break. I previously posted about the new legislation that was, at the time, sent to Gov. Snyder’s desk that would reduce a first MIP down to a civil infraction. As a civil infraction, the penalty for a first MIP would be a $100 fine. Gov. Snyder signed bills 332 and 333 at the end of 2017 and they take effect this year.

Proponents of the new Minor in Possession law say that it addresses the public safety concerns while alleviating the burden of a criminal record on young adults. Senator Rick Jones, who introduced the bill, stated, “The problem with the old Minor in Possession law was that it was clogging up our courts, putting kids in jail and jeopardizing the chances of some young people to get into college or get a job. Young people make mistakes and this law will afford them the opportunity to learn from those mistakes without having a criminal record.” Young people will need to learn from their mistakes because a subsequent MIP will be considered a misdemeanor with a second offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine and a third offense punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and possible revocation of one’s driver’s license.

This new teenage and juvenile crime law will alleviate the heavy burden on the Michigan court system. Recent statistics from the Michigan State Police show that law enforcement in the state of Michigan issues over 7,000 MIP charges per year. Counties with college towns post an even more staggering statistic, owning the largest number of annual arrests and convictions. Ingham County, home of Michigan State University, for example, issued 863 citations from 2009 to 2013. The sheer number of these cases coming across judges’ desks reduces judicial economy and this change in law will help.

While the bill had overwhelming support, there remain some critics. Barry County District Judge Mike Schipper is one such critic. He states, “I really didn’t see MIP the way it was being bad.” He went on to explain that he and many other judges rarely sent first offenders to jail, especially if they had a clean record before their MIP offense. Other critics of the new law express similar criticisms, saying that this law might result in more young people being sent to jail for MIP offenses. Many young people do not make one time mistakes, they make two, three, possibly four-time mistakes and because they may not be properly deterred by a mere $100 fine, this law may result in more young people seeing jail time and higher fines.

If you or someone you love is in trouble for Minor in Possession, or any other criminal offense, contact an experirenced criminal defense attorney.  With 25 years of experience, calling John Freeman could be the most important call you make.