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156283 - People v Tarone Devon Washington

People of the State of Michigan
 
Aaron J. Mead
 
Plaintiff-Appellant,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Berrien – LaSata, C.)
 
Tarone Devon Washington
 
Marilena B. David-Martin
 
Defendant-Appellee.
 

Summary

Defendant was convicted of maintaining a drug house, possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony-firearm), and other offenses. The crime of maintaining a drug house is defined in the Public Health Code as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison. Because it is punishable by more than one year in prison, it is treated as a felony for purposes of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In People v Smith, 423 Mich 427, 434 (1985), the Supreme Court held that Penal Code offenses labeled as two-year “misdemeanors” may nonetheless be considered as “felonies” for purposes of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Smith Court also held that the definitions and labels contained in each code apply only within that code, and that “the Legislature intended two-year misdemeanors to be considered as misdemeanors for purposes of the Penal Code . . . .” Id. at 434, 444. On appeal, the Court of Appeals directed the parties to address whether defendant’s “misdemeanor” conviction of maintaining a drug house could serve as the predicate “felony” for his conviction of felony-firearm, a Penal Code offense. In an unpublished split opinion, the Court of Appeals majority, relying on Smith, agreed with defendant and vacated his felony-firearm conviction. The majority noted that, if it were deciding this case on a blank slate, it would rule for the prosecutor, and encouraged the prosecutor to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. The dissenting judge understood Smith as holding that the definition of maintaining a drug house as a “misdemeanor” in the Public Health Code would not transfer to the Penal Code. The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on the prosecutor’s application for leave to appeal to address whether the crime of maintaining a drug house, MCL 333.7405(1)(d), MCL 333.7506, a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison, may serve as the predicate felony for a conviction of felony-firearm, MCL 750.227b.