September 18, 2010 (Press-News.org) A 2009 incident involving a Grand Valley State University student who was shot by a specialty-drug-team officer highlights the fact that Michigan State Police target college students through drug busts in dorms and campus apartments. Accordingly, it is important for students to know their rights and options regarding police interaction and drug charges.
The Specialty-Drug-Team Shooting
Derek Copp, a GVSU student, said he was studying with his roommate at their Campus View apartment when he heard a knock at their sliding glass door in March 2009. Deputy Ryan Huizenga of the West Michigan Enforcement Team, a specialty drug team, was outside with other officers and a warrant to search the apartment.
According to police reports, Copp had sold 3.3 grams of marijuana to an undercover officer earlier that day and told the officer it would be a busy night for drug sales at his apartment. His roommate also sold 3 grams of marijuana to an undercover officer in February. Therefore, the West Michigan Enforcement Team went to Copp's apartment expecting a large pot bust.
When Copp went to the door and opened the curtain, he was suddenly shot in the chest by Huizenga. Huizenga said the shooting was accidental, claiming that he mistakenly had his finger on the trigger instead of on the trigger lock when he prepared to enter the apartment.
Copp eventually recovered and later was sentenced to 18 months of probation, 40 hours of community service and $300 in fines for delivery or manufacturing of marijuana. Huizenga returned to duty after a six-month suspension, a $400 fine and 80 hours of community service.
Copp's sentence and Huizenga's reinstatement incited protests at college campuses across the state. While no other incidents have similarly caught the attention of the media and college students since then, Michigan's specialty drug teams are still used to find drug users in dorms and college apartments.
Students' Rights and Options
In a common scenario, drug team officers will walk through dorm hallways until they smell marijuana. They will then knock on doors and ask students about other drugs, getting the students to admit marijuana use because the students see it as a less serious drug.
If police arrive at your door, know that you can assert your rights. If police would like to search your dorm or apartment, you may request that they obtain a search warrant before entering. In addition, other than providing your name if you are asked for it, you may refuse to talk with the police. You have the right to remain silent, even if you are not under arrest.
Also, a special diversion program may be an option for young adults charged with committing a crime. Under Michigan's Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, people who are 17 to 20 years old and plead guilty to their crimes may be placed in prison or on probation without convictions. If they successfully complete the youthful-trainee program, they will not have criminal records. However, young adults who are charged with traffic, major controlled substance or sex offenses are ineligible for the program as well as people charged with felonies that carry the maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
If you are facing drug charges, promptly contact a criminal defense attorney in your area to fully understand your options. Because a drug conviction can significantly affect your ability to get housing or a job, the assistance of an attorney who has experience working with college students and drug crimes is invaluable.
Article provided by Aggressive Criminal Defense Law Firm
Visit us at www.aggressivecriminaldefenselawfirm.com
Michigan's Specialty Drug Teams Target College Students
Michigan college students should be aware that state police have specialty drug teams that target students in drug busts.
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Michigan college students should be aware that state police have specialty drug teams that target students in drug busts.