Judge Shows Sympathy To Dad Accused of Shooting Heroin In Presence Of His Child

By Victoria Kim 06/23/16

A Michigan judge took a firm but fair stance during the sentencing of the now sober 42-year-old father.

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Judge Shows Sympathy To Dad Accused of Shooting Heroin In Presence Of His Child

A Michigan father was spared a multi-year prison sentence after he was found in a parking lot with a loaded syringe and his five-year-old daughter in the car. 

Michael Booth faced the possibility of a four-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine for a February incident where police found him with a syringe loaded with heroin, a small amount of medical marijuana and other drug paraphernalia in the parking lot of a gas station. But instead, Bay County Circuit Judge Harry Gill sentenced Booth on Monday to 90 days in jail, where he will remain until he is transferred to an inpatient treatment facility once space is available, according to MLive

When he is released, Booth will do three years probation while he continues outpatient treatment for his opioid dependence. 

The most interesting part of this story, perhaps, is Judge Gill’s sympathetic attitude toward the 42-year-old father. “This is a multi-dimensional problem,” he told Booth. “First is opiate addiction, which I understand is difficult to deal with. Perhaps it isn’t as much a choice as people think.” 

But, he said, that doesn’t excuse Booth from using in front of his daughter. “You use it in her presence, which is a terrible, terrible thing to expose her to at 5 years of age,” said Gill. “That time of life is supposed to be carefree and innocent. You're exposing her to your willful intention to use heroin.”

Booth was arrested on Feb. 5 after bystanders tipped off police that he was behaving suspiciously in his car. When he was approached by police at a local gas station, he told them he was on his way to the SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium with his daughter, who was sitting in the back seat. 

According to MLive, Booth denied that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He said he was recovering from heroin addiction and provided the police with a prescription for Suboxone. When officers searched his car, they found a small amount of marijuana. Though Booth is a medical marijuana patient, he was transporting it illegally, according to court records.

Finally, in the trunk of his car, officers discovered a loaded syringe and a spoon, along with three tinfoil bindles. Booth admitted they contained heroin, which he bought from a man nearby. He admitted to injecting at a local Meijer store before driving to the gas station. He said he was waiting for his daughter to fall asleep so he could use again.

Booth was subsequently arrested. In May, he pleaded guilty to a felony offense—one count of possession of a narcotic or cocaine less than 25 grams.

At his sentencing on Monday, where he dodged a four-year prison term, he told Judge Gill that he has committed to recovery since he was busted. “There’s no excuse for my actions that night,” he said. “It has changed my life. I’ve been attending (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings five to six times a week and I’ve been clean since then.”

Booth still uses Suboxone to address his opioid dependence, and says he sees his daughter—who was turned over to her mother—every other week.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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