Defense Attorneys for Weapons Offenses in Michigan
Prosecutors take weapons cases very seriously, and often seek stiff jail terms for defendants. You need a very serious criminal defense attorney by your side.
The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. know how to challenge weapons charges and are always on the lookout for creative and effective ways to obtain a dismissal of the charges and have the case thrown out of court, when possible. In one way or another, every case is defensible. We are not afraid to win!
How exactly does the law define “weapon”?
There are many items that by their very nature are or can be used as weapons. Almost anything can be used as a weapon, but Michigan law does specifically list certain items that are considered weapons by definition. Some examples include:
- Any other firearm
- Air gun
- Folding knife with blade over 3 inches
- Double-edged non-folding stabbing instrument
- Machine gun
- Metallic (brass) knuckles
- Any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument (for example: sword, spear, nun chucks, machete, Chinese throwing stars)
Carrying a Concealed Weapon
When most people think of the crime of carrying a concealed weapon, they think of pistols, and they think of the crime commonly known as CCW (Carrying a Concealed Weapon). But keep in mind there are a number of items you may not carry concealed, which are listed above. One exception is hunting knives, which may be carried legally, openly or concealed, if the hunting knife is “adapted and carried as such;” meaning you probably don’t want to carry one, for example, into a bar, sports arena, or movie theater.
Another thing many people are surprised to learn, often while being arrested, is that any weapon inside a vehicle is automatically considered concealed, even if it is out in the open and easily viewable.
Penalty for Carrying a Concealed Weapon
A person may not carry a concealed weapon on their person or in a motor vehicle, motorboat, sailboat, aircraft, or any other mechanically propelled vehicle. Carrying a weapon in your car, boat, etc. is the same as hiding the weapon under your clothing so that no one can see it. You may have heard of “open carry.” Open carry means carrying a pistol in a holster or waistband so that anyone can see it. This is completely legal, with the exception that you may not have more than 75% of the weapon concealed, and the weapon (gun) must be registered in the carrier’s name unless the carrier has a Concealed Pistol License (CPL). The penalty for carrying a concealed weapon is a potential maximum of 5 years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine and a potential 5 years on probation.
Places you may not carry a concealed firearm even with a CPL:
- A bank or credit union
- A church or other place of religious worship
- A court
- A theater
- A sports arena
- A day care center
- A hospital
- An establishment licensed under the Liquor Control Code
- A college dormitory
- A school
- An entertainment venue with a capacity of 2500 or more people
- A casino
The penalties for carrying a concealed pistol in a prohibited area are:
- 1st Offense, State Civil Infraction, $500 fine, CPL permit suspended 6 months;
- 2nd offense: Up to 90 days in jail, up to 2 years on probation, $1000 fine, and CPL permit revoked;
- 3rd and subsequent offenses: a felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison, up to 5 years on probation, $5000 fine, and CPL permit revoked.
It should be noted, however, that a person may “open carry” a pistol into all of these places, except courthouses and casinos.
Brandishing a Firearm
Brandishing means waving or displaying a firearm in a threatening manner. The penalty for brandishing is 90 days in jail and up to 2 years on probation.
Carrying a Weapon with Unlawful Intent
It is a 5-year felony for carrying any weapon “with intent to use the same unlawfully against the person of another.” Weapons include any of the items listed above. In addition to the maximum 5-year prison sentence, a defendant can also be required to serve up to 5 years on court supervised probation.
Improperly Transporting a Firearm
A person may transport a firearm in a vehicle if it is unloaded, taken apart, or in an area inaccessible by the driver and anyone else in the vehicle. Violation of this law carries a possible 90-day jail term and up to 2 years on probation. This offense is probably most applicable to hunters and target shooters.
Felonious assault is where a person uses a dangerous weapon to threaten another and places them in fear of an imminent physical battery but who does not intend to inflict great bodily harm or death. No touching is required as long as the victim believes they are about to be harmed. This offense carries a maximum 4-year prison term and up to 5 years under court supervision and control.
So-called “felony firearm” is where a person possesses a firearm while committing or attempting to commit a felony. This crime carries a mandatory consecutive prison term for a first offense of 2 years in prison, served in addition to the penalty for the underlying felony. A second such offense carries a 5-year additional prison term and a third or subsequent offense carries a 10-year additional term. Neither probation or county jail time are possible for a felony firearm conviction; prison is mandatory.
Felon in Possession of a Firearm
A person convicted of a felony may not possess a firearm or ammunition for 3 years after the probation or parole has expired. The wait period is 5 years for “specified felonies” which involve serious violent crimes, drug crimes, explosives, or unlawful distribution of firearms. This offense is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to 5 years of probation.
Careless, Reckless, or Negligent Use of a Firearm
If the careless, reckless, or negligent use of a firearm causes injury or death of another, the penalty is a 2-year misdemeanor and 2 years of court supervised probation. If the use causes damage to property valued at less than $50.00, the penalty is a possible 90 days in jail and 2 years of court supervised probation. If damage is greater than $50.00, the penalty is 1 year in jail and 2 years of probation.
Importantly, a conviction for one of these offenses empowers a judge to suspend the defendant’s hunting privileges for up to 3 years.
Intentional Discharge of Firearm at a Dwelling or Potentially Occupied Structure (includes what is commonly known as a “drive-by shooting”)
- Shooting at a dwelling or potentially occupied structure, whether it is actually occupied or not, carries a potential prison term of 10 years and/or a $10,000 fine, and 5 years of court supervision.
- If shooting at the dwelling or structure causes injury to an occupant, the penalty is 15 years and/or a $15,000 fine, and 5 years court supervision.
- If the shooting causes serious impairment of a bodily function of an occupant, the penalty is 20 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine, and 5 years court supervision.
- If the shooting causes the death of an occupant, the penalty is life in prison.
Possession of Short-Barreled Shotgun or Rifle
A person may not possess, make, modify, sell or transfer short-barreled rifles or shotguns. Rifles and shotguns must have a barrel length of at least 18 inches and an overall length of at least 26 inches. Violation of this law carries a 5-year jail term and 5 years of court supervised probation.
Firearms: Discharging While Intentionally Aimed at Another but Without Malice
If a person intentionally aims and discharges a firearm at another without the intent to injure them, it is a 1-year misdemeanor with a 2-year term of supervised probation.
Machineguns and Silencers
Machineguns and silencers are dealt with under the same statute section. A machinegun is a gun that can fire multiple rounds continuously with one pull of the trigger if the trigger is held down. A silencer, or more accurately a muffler, is a device that is attached to a firearm which deadens the noise of a shot. The penalty for making or possessing either of these items is a potential 5 years in prison and 5 years of probation.
It should be noted that a federal license to own both machineguns and silencers is able to be obtained. These federal licenses cost $200 and are available from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to anyone who is qualified to purchase and possess a firearm.
Armor Piercing Ammunition
Armor piercing ammunition is ammunition designed to be able to penetrate items such as bullet proof vests and metallic things such as doors, walls and cars, as examples. The bullets of this ammunition are made of especially hard metals and alloys. Law enforcement recognizes no possible legitimate reason for the public to possess this kind of ammunition and appreciates that such ammunition could be used to defeat police body armor. Possessing this type of ammunition carries a 4-year prison term. If a gun dealer sells this kind of ammunition to an unqualified person, he will lose his dealer’s license as well as face 4 years in prison.
Tasers and Stun Guns
These items are known as “electro-muscular disruption devices,” and are designed to immobilize people by electrical current. In extreme circumstances they can kill a person, and therefore their possession is tightly controlled. There are two kinds of devices: Tasers shoot two darts into a target attached to a power source in the gun; stun guns must be touched to the body of the target. Stun guns are now legal but Tasers require a concealed pistol license.
Prior to 2012, it was illegal to possess or sell Tasers or stun guns. But in that year the Michigan Court of Appeals decided it was a violation of the 2nd Amendment to have a total ban on them. Now, the rules are as stated above, and the only additional rule is that the person using them must use them “reasonably.”
Unlawful Sales of Firearms
Michigan law makes it unlawful for a licensed firearm dealer to do any of the following:
- Sell a firearm to a person under 18 years of age (90-day misdemeanor);
- Sell a firearm to a person under 18 years of age, 2nd Offense (4-year felony)
- Sell a firearm or ammunition to a person under indictment for a felony or a convicted felon (10-year felony and a $5,000.00 fine)
Spring Guns (Booby Traps)
It is unlawful for a person to set a gun to go off by movement or disturbance and then leave the set gun. Setting a trap such as this is a 1-year misdemeanor, but if anyone is killed by the trap gun they will be charged with manslaughter, a 15-year felony.
Weapons Charges Defense Attorneys with Experience
The reputable, respected, and highly experienced defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. Our reputation is that of a firm committed to the fearless pursuit of our clients’ rights and freedoms. We conduct the highest-grade defense while providing close personal attention and care to each client. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.