Circuit Court LC No. 17-243452-FC
Before: Talbot, C.J., and Borrello and Riordan, JJ.
interlocutory appeal, defendant appeals by leave
granted the trial court's order denying his
motion to dismiss. Defendant argued in the trial court as
well as on appeal that the trial court lacked
"jurisdiction." Defendant is charged with one count of
delivery of a controlled substance causing death (fentanyl),
MCL 750.317a. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we
reverse and remand the matter to the trial court for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
case arises out of the drug-related death of Nicholas
Abraham. On December 12, 2016, Nicholas called William Ingall
to tell Ingall that he was coming over because he wanted to
get some heroin. Later that night, they traveled together in
Nicholas's pickup truck to a house in Detroit to procure
heroin from defendant. Once they arrived in the area, Ingall
called defendant's cell phone and informed defendant that
he wanted to "get some heroin." Nicholas gave
Ingall $100, and he waited in his pickup truck while Ingall
left and purchased heroin from defendant inside a nearby
house. Ingall gave defendant $100, and defendant gave Ingall
heroin that was wrapped up in paper.
Subsequently, Ingall returned to Nicholas's truck with
the heroin, and they went to a nearby laundromat where they
used the heroin. Ingall used approximately $20 worth of the
heroin, and Nicholas used approximately $10 worth of the
heroin. According to Ingall, the heroin "was really
strong, " and it "wasn't real bitter like the
heroin would [sic] be." After Ingall noticed the
strength of the heroin, he told Nicholas "to be careful
dropped Ingall off at Ingall's house and then went home.
Nicholas lived in Monroe County with his wife, Michelle
Abraham. After getting home at approximately 10:00 p.m. that
evening, Nicholas put down two lines of heroin on a table and
told Michelle to snort the heroin. Michelle passed out after
she used the heroin. When she regained consciousness, she
discovered that Nicholas was not breathing and tried
unsuccessfully to resuscitate him. Nicholas was pronounced
dead during the early morning hours of December 13, 2016. An
autopsy was subsequently performed by Dr. Leigh Hlavaty of
the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office, who opined
that Nicholas's death was caused by fentanyl toxicity.
According to Detective Michael McClain of the Monroe County
Sheriff's Office Vice Unit, fentanyl is sometimes used by
heroin dealers as "a cutting agent to make the heroin
was charged with one count of delivery of fentanyl causing
death and was bound over to the Monroe Circuit Court
following his preliminary examination. Defendant subsequently
moved to dismiss the prosecution's case on the ground
that the trial court lacked "jurisdiction."
Defendant contended that the trial court lacked jurisdiction
over him because the only "act" that he allegedly
committed-the delivery of fentanyl-occurred in Wayne County,
and he did not commit any act in Monroe County since
Nicholas's death was not an "act" committed by
hearing was held on defendant's motion, and the trial
court denied the motion. The trial court ruled that defendant
could be tried in either Wayne County or Monroe County
because elements of the charged offense occurred in both of
those counties. The trial court further reasoned that venue
was authorized in Monroe County because a "mortal
wound" was inflicted by means of the drug transaction,
which resulted in a death in Monroe County.
granted defendant's application for leave to appeal, as
well as his motion to stay the proceedings pending resolution
of this appeal.
threshold matter, we note that although defendant has
characterized his challenge as one involving the trial
court's "jurisdiction, " the question presented
in this appeal is actually whether venue was
properly laid in Monroe County. "Jurisdiction is the
power [of a court] to act." People v Johnson,
427 Mich. 98, 106 n 7; 398 N.W.2d 219 (1986) (opinion by
Boyle, J.) (quotation marks and citations omitted; alteration
in original). "Michigan circuit courts are courts of
general jurisdiction and unquestionably have jurisdiction
over felony cases." People v Lown, 488 Mich.
242, 268; 794 N.W.2d 9 (2011), citing Const 1963, art 6,
§§ 1 and 13, MCL 600.151, MCL 600.601, and MCL
767.1. However, venue refers to the location, or forum, in
which the trial is to be held. See Gross v Gen Motors
Corp, 448 Mich. 147, 156; 528 N.W.2d 707 (1995);
People v Webbs, 263 Mich.App. 531, 533; 689 N.W.2d
163 (2004). Therefore, defendant's appellate argument
that the trial court erred because Monroe County is not a
proper county in which to try this case is clearly a venue
STANDARD OF REVIEW
trial court's determination regarding the existence of
venue in a criminal prosecution is reviewed de novo."
People v Houthoofd, 487 Mich. 568, 579; 790 N.W.2d
315 (2010). "Venue is a part of every criminal
prosecution and must be proved by the prosecutor beyond a
reasonable doubt." Webbs, 263 Mich.App. at 533.
"A trial court's ruling addressing a motion to
dismiss is reviewed for an abuse of discretion."
People v Lewis, 302 Mich.App. 338, 341; 839 N.W.2d
37 (2013). "An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial
court chooses an outcome falling outside the range of
principled outcomes." Id. (quotation marks and
involving statutory interpretation are reviewed de novo.
Houthoofd, 487 Mich. at 579. "The primary
purpose of a court when construing a statute is to discern
and give effect to the Legislature's intent."
People v Rivera, 301 Mich.App. 188, 192; 835 N.W.2d
464 (2013). "We begin by examining the plain language of
the statute; where that language is unambiguous, we presume
that the Legislature intended the meaning clearly
expressed-no further judicial construction is required or
permitted, and the statute must be enforced as written."
People v Williams, 475 Mich. 245, 250; 716 N.W.2d
208 (2006) (quotation marks and citation omitted). The words
in a statute ...