The Michigan Lifer Law, or 650 Lifer Law


Drug Crime Defense for Individuals in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Throughout Michigan

The Michigan Lifer Law, or "650 Lifer Law" as it was once referred to, meant that individuals who were convicted of serious drug crimes would receive a mandatory sentence of life in prison. While sentencing is not as harsh today as it once was, it is still severe. Today, sentencing under Michigan laws allow for a maximum possible sentence for each individual drug offense; still, some of the most serious charges will leave a defendant facing a substantial number of years in prison, if convicted. At Grabel & Associates, our Michigan drug crime defense attorneys vigorously fight on behalf of every client, dedicating our skills and experience to helping you avoid harsh criminal penalties.

What is the "650" or Michigan Lifer Law?

Passed in 1973, the "650-lifer" law meant that any individual charged with the possession, delivery, or intent to deliver cocaine or heroin in amounts of more than 650 grams would received a mandated life sentence without parole if convicted.

In July of 1998, Michigan’s Governor John Engler (R) reformed the Michigan lifer law following the signing of a bill. The governor signed another bill on July 28 of that year, Public Act 314 of 1998, making the change to the drug laws applicable to offenders who had been sentenced according to the 650-lifer law, making it possible for those offenders who had previously been sentenced to mandatory life without parole for drug crimes eligible for parole. At that time, 220 individuals were imprisoned under Michigan's lifer law. The new law meant that those who were currently serving sentences, and future offenders convicted for possession or possession with intent involving serious drugs would serve 17 to 20 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Michigan's Lifer Law also meant that individuals who were juveniles and were tried for possession or possession with intent of more than 650 grams of cocaine or heroin would be sentenced whatever number of years the judge determined, but less than 25.

Michigan House and Senate Pass Three Bills for Major Sentencing Reform in December 2010

On December 29 of 2010, three bills were passed and signed into effect regarding Michigan's drug laws. These bills included HB 4918, 4919, and 4920.

Essentially, HB 4918 AND 4919 apply to individuals who were sentenced to lifetime probation before March 1 of 2003; after serving five years probation, these individuals became eligible for parole.

HB 4920 is a bill targeted toward individuals convicted of drug offenses prior to March 1, 2003, and sentenced for those offenses. This bill provides among other things that individuals known as "650 lifers," or those sentenced for violating 333.7401(2)(a)(i) or 333.7403(2)(a)(i) will be eligible for parole at an earlier date, and sentenced to a term of years. Under this bill, individuals become eligible for parole at 17 1/2 years or 20 years (with a prior serious offense), or at the minimum term imposed, whichever is the lesser of the two. For instance, if an individual with no prior offenses is sentenced to 25-30 years for a drug crime, he or she will become eligible to be considered for parole after 17 1/2 years.

Penalties for Drug Crimes in Michigan are Still Severe

Even though the "650" or Michigan Lifer Law is no longer in force, penalties for certain drug crimes are still very severe in the state. For example, an individual convicted for selling or distributing certain drugs such as methamphetamines, ecstasy, or cocaine, you could potentially face fines of up to $25,000 and 20 years in prison. Other factors may enhance sentencing, including whether you have a prior criminal record, a firearm was present during the commission of the crime, or if a minor was involved or the selling/distribution of drugs took place in close proximity of a school, park, church, or business.

Regardless of the laws or the circumstances, it is critical that you protect your legal rights by consulting with an aggressive and skilled Michigan drug crime defense lawyer. At Grabel & Associates, we are available to our clients 24/7. Give us a call at 1-800-342-7896 today, and let us work to protect you from serious criminal penalties. Contact us online.


With Attorney's statewide, Grabel & Associates defend people accused of criminal charges throughout the state of Michigan including the communities of Lansing, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon, Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, Pinconning, Kalamazoo, Mount Pleasant, Bay City, Saginaw, Brant, Traverse City, Ludington, Allegan, Hillsdale, Lapeer, Port Huron, Ann Arbor, and Detroit.