Convictions for cocaine- and heroin-related drug charges have landed two Kalamazoo men in federal prison. The men, who are cousins, were sentenced to 12 and 15 years in prison, respectively, according to court documents.
As part of their agreement with the government, both men pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of powder cocaine, 29 grams or more of crack cocaine and 100 grams or more of heroin over a five-year period. Several other charges against the men were dismissed. After they are released from prison, the judge ordered federal supervision of both men for several years.
Innocent men who are charged with serious crimes can face a media that presumes guilt when the court system is supposed to presume innocence. The presumption of innocence is especially important in high-profile drug cases. The consequences of trafficking cocaine and heroin are far-reaching. Not only is there a possibility of jail time but a drug conviction can also affect employment, education and several other aspects of one's life.
Furthermore, Michigan is one of the worst states in the country for someone who is convicted of selling drugs such as cocaine. Because of the prevalence of cocaine in Michigan in the 1980s, several harsh laws were implemented. According to one source, "As of 2010, some defendants convicted of selling the drug in the 1980s still remain locked behind bars."
Even if someone is convicted of a drug crime in Michigan, like the two cousins mentioned earlier, that convicted person can appeal their conviction if they believe they were wrongly convicted or too harshly punished.
A convicted person cannot merely appeal because a jury found them guilty or because a judge imposed the maximum penalty available under law, however. There must have been an error in the original trial or post-conviction sentencing that prevented the convicted person from getting their fair day in court.
Source: Mlive.com, "Kalamazoo cousins sentenced to federal prison in drug-trafficking case," Rex Hall Jr., May 1, 2012