Jackson Circuit Court LC No. 18-003993-FH
Before: Meter, P.J., and Jansen and M. J. Kelly, JJ.
prosecution appeals as of right the trial court's order
granting defendant's motion to dismiss charges of
possession of methamphetamine, MCL
333.7403(2)(b)(i), and possession of methamphetamine
analogues, MCL 333.7403(2)(b)(ii). We reverse and
prosecution argues that the trial court erred when it granted
defendant's motion to dismiss the charges pursuant to the
"Good Samaritan law," MCL 333.7403(3)(a), because
the court relied on public policy supporting the law, rather
than statutory interpretation or findings of fact, and the
amount of drugs that defendant possessed was in excess of an
amount "sufficient only for personal use" for the
statute to apply. We agree that the trial court erred in
dismissing the charges because it failed to consider the
January 2017, defendant's mother called the police
because defendant overdosed on drugs. When law enforcement
and emergency medical services arrived, defendant was
unconscious and unresponsive. Defendant was transported to
the hospital, and tested positive for amphetamines,
benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, and opiates. He had acute
respiratory failure, and required intubation and mechanical
ventilation. He was discharged from the hospital four days
later. When the police executed a search warrant for
defendant's bedroom, they found 0.44 grams of MDMA
(ecstasy), 3.53 grams of a synthetic opioid called U-47700,
and 349 pills of Xanax. Defendant was charged with possession
of methamphetamine (MDMA) and methamphetamine analogues
(Xanax) in January 2018. He was not charged with possession
of U-47700 because it is not a controlled substance in
Michigan. Defendant was arrested in February 2018.
June 2018, defendant moved to dismiss the charges based on
the Good Samaritan law, MCL 333.7403(3)(a). The prosecution
conceded to the factual allegations underlying
defendant's arrest, but argued that the Good Samaritan
law did not apply because the amount of Xanax found in
defendant's room far exceeded an amount "sufficient
only for personal use." The prosecution did not support
its response to defendant's motion with affidavits or
other documentary evidence. The court held a hearing on
defendant's motion, and merely provided on the record:
And if [defendant's] mother hadn't called then
we'd have mom in here on charges. And, we do want to
encourage people to call.
trial court granted defendant's motion, and entered an
order dismissing the charges.
Court reviews a trial court's decision on a motion to
dismiss charges against a criminal defendant for an abuse of
discretion. People v Nicholson, 297 Mich.App. 191,
196; 822 N.W.2d 284 (2012). An abuse of discretion occurs
when the trial court's decision "falls outside the
range of principled outcomes." Id.
"Whether a defendant's conduct falls within the
scope of a penal statute is a question of statutory
interpretation that is reviewed de novo." People v
Rea, 500 Mich. 422, 427; 902 N.W.2d 362 (2017).
person may not knowingly or intentionally possess controlled
substances or their analogues. MCL 333.7403(1). However, in
certain circumstances, if an individual overdoses on a
controlled substance, that individual may not be in violation
of the statute. As provided in the Good Samaritan law:
(a) An individual who seeks medical assistance for himself or
herself or who requires medical assistance and is presented
for assistance by another individual if he or she is
incapacitated because of a drug overdose or other perceived
medical emergency arising from the use of a controlled
substance or a controlled substance analogue that he or she
possesses or possessed in an amount sufficient only for
personal use and the evidence of his or her violation of
this section is obtained as a result of the individual's
seeking or being presented for medical assistance [MCL
333.7403(3)(a) (emphasis added)].
interpreting a statute, a court's goal is to give effect
to the Legislature's intent by first looking to the plain
language of the statute. People v Lowe, 484 Mich.
718, 721-722; 733 N.W.2d 1 (2009). If the statutory language
is unambiguous, the court must apply the language as written,
and further analysis is neither required nor permitted.
People v Borchard-Ruhland, 460 Mich. 278, 284; 597
N.W.2d 1 (1999). A court must assume that each word has some
meaning, and should avoid constructions that render a part of
the statute "surplusage or nugatory." Id.
at 285. A court may not look to the statute's purpose or
its public policy objectives unless the statutory language is
ambiguous or unclear. People v Pinkney, 501 Mich.
259, 272; 912 N.W.2d 535 (2018). When a court looks to the
public policy without first analyzing the plain language, the
court" 'runs counter to the rule of statutory
construction directing us to discern legislative intent from
plain statutory language.'" Id., quoting
Perkovic v Zurich American Ins Co, 500 Mich. 44, 53;
893 N.W.2d 322 (2017).
is no caselaw interpreting or applying the Good Samaritan
law. Defendant relies on People v Baham, 321
Mich.App. 228; 909 N.W.2d 836 (2017), a case in which this
Court interpreted a similar personal use exception regarding
the manufacture of controlled substances, but in the context
of manufacture of methamphetamine. This Court considered a
similar question in 1987, but in the context of an individual
who was growing marijuana. People v Pearson, 157
Mich.App. 68, 72; 403 N.W.2d 498 (1987). In both cases,
the Court held that a personal use exception applies only to
the preparation and compounding of a controlled substance
already in existence, not the growth or manufacture of new
controlled substances. Baham, 321 Mich.App. at
242-243; Pearson, 157 Mich.App. at ...