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  • Kevin Elliott

Illegal drug paraphernalia fines increase

Individuals pleading guilty for illegal possession of drug paraphernalia in Rochester will face increased fines following approval on Monday, January 8, of an ordinance amendment by Rochester City Council.

Under the city's criminal ordinances, the penalty for possession of drug paraphernalia was set at a maximum of $100 for people pleading guilty to the crime. However, Oakland County District Court has a maximum penalty of $500.

When pleading guilty to the charge, the city is required to insert the maximum penalty for the court's benefit on the plea form, said Rochester City Attorney Jeffrey Kragt.

"The court has questioned why the Rochester ordinance is $100, whereas the other communities in the district have a maximum penalty of $500," Kragt said in a memo. "I did not have the history of that decision as most misdemeanors have a maximum financial penalty of $500. While the court is not required to go to the maximum penalty when sentencing someone, having a cap of $100 for the fine has raised the attention of the court as it is unlike other municipal ordinances."

Kragt said he spoke with the Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm and they agreed that the maximum penalty could be supported by the typical $500 maximum.

Council voted 6-0 in favor of amending the ordinance with councilman Ben Giovanelli absent.

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