Firearm in Carry-On Luggage or Concealed on Your Person

Whether intentional or accidental, having a firearm on your person or carry-on luggage will result in criminal charges in Michigan.

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What You Need to Know About Possessing a Pistol in the Airport

Possession of a firearm in the airport will result in civil TSA fines and referral to local law enforcement for further investigation and criminal prosecution. The two most common occurrences of possessing a gun at the airport are when someone forgets they have a pistol concealed on their person or packed in carry-on luggage. Criminal charges, such as carrying a gun in luggage, are filed in nearly every circumstance, even though statistics demonstrate that most people found with firearms in the airport were unaware or didn’t remember having a firearm in their carry-on luggage or personal baggage (such as a purse or briefcase).

Possession of a Firearm in Luggage Charges

Legal possession can be “actual” or “constructive.” Actual possession occurs when someone holds or physically possesses an object or something containing that object. For example, if someone is carrying a briefcase containing a pistol, they are actually in possession of the firearm. Constructive possession occurs when someone has the right and ability to control something. For example, if someone puts a gun in their purse and the purse goes through an x-ray machine, they are not physically in possession of the weapon or purse; however, they are still in “constructive possession” of the firearm because they maintain the right and ability to control it. The prosecutor can prosecute someone for having a gun in carry-on luggage charges based on actual or constructive possession.

Possession of a Firearm at the Airport Charges

The Airport Ordinances prohibit carrying a concealed pistol, even with a valid concealed pistol license (CPL), when the TSA or employee screening process has begun or when in a Security Sensitive Area of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The Wayne County Airport Authority Ordinance (WCAAO)  states no person shall “Possess a dangerous weapon in any area of the Airport.”

Penalties for Possession of a Concealed Firearm or Pistol in Carry-On Luggage

The prosecutor can charge someone possessing a gun in their luggage, clothing, or bag with either a misdemeanor or felony crime, depending upon the circumstances. Simple possession of a firearm at the airport is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, two years of probation, and a fine of up to $1,000. When an individual attempts to go through security and board an airplane with a gun, it is a felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

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Gun Charges in the 34th District Court in Romulus

Misdemeanor Possession of a Gun at the Airport

Possession of a pistol or firearm in luggage misdemeanors arising at the Detroit Metro Airport are handled at the 34th District Court in Romulus, Wayne County, Michigan. In misdemeanor cases, a skilled defense lawyer has two primary roles. First, an aggressive attorney will confer with the prosecutor and fight for dismissal of the charge. If the prosecutor does not dismiss the case, the lawyer can negotiate with the judge and prosecutor for reduced charges and a lenient sentence. There are statutes and court rules in Michigan that a savvy lawyer can utilize to help their client avoid jail and a conviction, even when there is overwhelming evidence.

In addition to criminal penalties, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may fine someone possessing a firearm at the airport between $2,050.00 and $14,950.00. The amount of the fine depends on whether the gun was loaded or in proximity to ammunition and whether there was a silencer, muffler, or other firearm parts or accessories.

Felony Firearm Charges in the 34th District Court in Romulus

Possession of a gun intending to board or interfere with a plane is a felony charge with a maximum sentence of 10 years in Michigan. It is immaterial if the gun is concealed or packed in carry-on luggage or bags. Unless a defense lawyer can reach a plea bargain with the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor or get the case dismissed at a preliminary examination, the judge will send the case to the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit for trial. A preliminary examination is an evidentiary hearing where the prosecutor must admit testimony and evidence to show probable cause to believe the defendant is guilty of a felony. Your best hope of avoiding a conviction and jail time is with a qualified, top-rated airport weapons charges defense attorney.

You might also face Carrying Concealed Weapon (CCW) charges if the firearm is concealed or in a purse, briefcase, or handbag. CCW is a felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, years of probation, and fines and costs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if TSA finds a gun in your bag?

If the TSA finds a firearm or weapon in your carry-on luggage or concealed on your person, you might be detained and then arrested by local law enforcement. They will also seize any firearms or ammunition and give them to the police department. The police department will only return firearms if forced to do so with a court order.

Can you keep a gun in your luggage?

You can transport an unloaded firearm in a locked, hard-sided container. The case must be transported as checked baggage only. When checking in at the ticket counter, the passenger must declare the firearm and any ammunition to the airline staff. The container must completely secure the gun from being accessed.

Do airlines charge to check a firearm?

Some airlines charge a fee for firearms, while others include them in the complimentary baggage allowance. While the Transportation Security Administration in the United States may allow you to carry firearms and ammunition in the same bag or gun case, your airline or connecting airline may not. Some airlines prohibit the carriage of weaponry.

How many guns get through TSA? A passenger may transport unlimited firearms in checked baggage on a commercial aircraft in the United States. However, each gun must be unloaded and secured in a container with a hard exterior designed to transport firearms.

How often does TSA find guns?

In 2022, the TSA screened approximately 761 million passengers and personnel at airports nationwide. TSA officers nationwide discovered 8.6 firearms per one million passengers screened in carry-on luggage. One gun was found for every 116,394 travelers screened by the TSA.

How many guns can I carry on a plane?

Unloaded firearms must be secured in a hard exterior container and transported only as checked baggage. Ammunition and parts of firearms, such as frames and receivers, are prohibited in carry-on luggage and must be placed in checked baggage.

Can you carry a gun in an airport in Michigan?

Michigan law prohibits carrying or possessing firearms in airports.

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Defense Attorneys for Carrying a Gun in Luggage Charges

The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has represented thousands of clients on gun and firearm-related charges in courts throughout Michigan. We use a unique team approach that consistently results in outcomes unattainable by most lawyers. We understand that the stakes are high when a client faces carrying a gun in luggage charges and know there is no room for errors and false promises. We will do whatever it takes to get the best possible outcome. Call us for a free consultation. Our experienced defense lawyers will find a way to help you!

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