Firearms & Weapons Defenses
Michigan has many laws regulating the legal use of firearms, and breaking them can have serious consequences. Maurice Davis is deeply experienced in these cases and has helped many offenders obtain reduced or vacated firearms charges. If you’ve been charged with a firearms related offense, hiring a Detroit firearms lawyer to defend your case can significantly reduce your chances of serving jail time or paying fines.
There are two broad categories of crimes involving firearms and other weapons: those that involve criminal intent and those that do not. Most firearms and weapons crimes do not require a prosecutor to prove that you were acting with criminal intent—mere possession under certain circumstances is sufficient grounds for a conviction. Learn more about possible defenses to weapons crime by contacting Maurice Davis online today.
Firearms and Weapons Crimes Requiring Proof of Criminal Intent
Michigan statute 750.226 prohibits the possession of any kind of dangerous or deadly instrument with unlawful intentions. Violating this statute is a felony, and offenders can be sentenced to up to five years in jail and may have to pay a fine of up to $2,500.
Michigan statute 750.211 prohibits the possession of an explosive or incendiary device, such as a Molotov cocktail, with unlawful intentions. If you breach this statute, a court can sentence you to up to fifteen years in prison along with a $10,000 fine. The mere possession, without criminal intent, involves a more lenient sentence of four years jail time and a fine that can reach $2,000.
Proving criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt is usually one of the most difficult aspects of a prosecutor’s case. Absent an admission from the defendant, the prosecution must rely on witnesses and circumstantial evidence. A skilled defense attorney can challenge the evidence’s admission, cross-examine the witnesses, or argue that the evidence does not permit the inference of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is why it’s important to avoid talking to law enforcement and prosecutors after your arrest—any statement you make that sounds like an admission of your criminal intent can and will be used against you.
Firearms and Weapons Charges Not Requiring Proof of Criminal Intent
Michigan has strict gun laws, and you can be convicted of a serious crime just for having a weapon with you in some situations—regardless of your lawful intentions. Below are some common weapons crimes from Michigan’s statutes:
- 750.224a, prohibiting sale or possession of a Taser without a permit
- 750.224b, prohibiting the manufacture, sale or possession of a short-barreled shotgun or rifle
- 750.224c, criminalizing the manufacture, distribution, sale, or use of armor piercing ammunition
- 750.224e, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, distribution, or possession of a semiautomatic firearm that has been modified into a fully automatic firearm.
- 750.224f, making illegal the possession of a firearm or distribution of ammunition by a person convicted of felony
- 750.226a, prohibiting the possession or sale of switchblades
- 750.227, criminalizing the carrying of a concealed weapon on your person, or in a vehicle (whether concealed or not), except for on your own property
- 750.227c and d, which make it illegal to transport a firearm or pneumatic gun in most vehicles unless it is unloaded AND in a trunk, a case, taken apart, or otherwise inaccessible from the vehicle’s interior
- 750.230, criminalizing the willful removal or alteration of the make, model, and serial number of a firearm. Note that mere possession of an unmarked firearm creates a presumption of guilt
- 750.234d Making it illegal to have a firearm (even with a permit) in banks, churches, courts, theaters, sports arenas, daycares, and hospitals
- 750.234e, prohibiting the brandishing of a firearm in public
If a court finds you guilty of any of the above, you could face heavy fines and jail time. As soon as you are arrested or charged, you should ask to speak to a lawyer and refrain from making any statements to the police or to a prosecutor. By following this advice, you will increase your defense attorney’s chances of securing your innocence.
How Your Attorney Can Defend Your Case
An experienced Michigan firearms lawyer such as Maurice Davis can analyze the evidence against you and come up with a defense strategy. Defending against firearms charges that do not require a proof of intent is challenging, but after years of working as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, Maurice Davis knows ways of obtaining your innocence or a lesser charge.
Some of the ways your attorney can defeat or reduce the charges against you include:
- Having the evidence against you thrown out because it was obtained illegally or without a proper warrant
- Objecting to crucial evidence of the prosecution’s case based on the rules of evidence and procedure
- Showing that your arrest and subsequent detention and interrogation were unconstitutional
- Claiming that one of the exceptions to Michigan’s weapons laws applied to you: Your sawed off shotgun was federally registered, your concealed weapon was a legal hunting knife, etc.
Even if you are found guilty of a firearms or weapons crime, a skilled attorney can obtain a reduced sentence for you. A judge will decide how you should be punished at a separate sentencing hearing after your trial. Your lawyer will have the opportunity to highlight mitigating factors that may convince the judge to give you a lighter sentence.
Your attorney can obtain a reduced sentence for you by bringing attention to the fact that:
- You had no criminal intentions or committed the infraction by mistake
- You were unaware that you were breaking the law
- You have a good character and a clean record
- This was your first firearms offense
With such strict gun laws, many honest Michigan citizens may unknowingly find themselves in violation of the law. While good intentions, ignorance, or mistake will not get you out of a conviction, these factors can contribute to a more lenient sentence.
When Firearms and Weapons Violations Are Added to Other Charges
Michigan Statute 750.227b defines a crime known as felony firearm, which involves carrying a firearm or pneumatic gun when committing or attempting to commit a felony. A court can punish offenders with up to two years imprisonment for the first violation, five years for a second violation, and ten years for each subsequent one. The judge will add these prison terms to whatever sentence resulted from the underlying felony, and the additional jail time cannot be suspended or made part of a parole or probation arrangement.
In many cases, prosecutors will charge a defendant with felony firearm even when the weapon had nothing to do with the original felony. For example, if the police find a gun—even an unloaded one—in the home of a person who was dealing drugs, the prosecutors may try to argue that the suspect was carrying a gun in the commission of a felony.
If you’ve been charged with felony firearm, a competent firearms lawyer can argue several defenses on your behalf. For instance, you can’t be held guilty unless the weapon was within your reach while you were committing the felony. Additionally, you had to have knowledge of the firearm’s location. If these defenses do not apply, your lawyer can attempt to defeat the underlying felony charge, which neutralizes the felony firearm charge.
Michigan’s firearm and weapons laws are not only strict—they’re complex. For this reason, hiring a skilled and experienced defense attorney such as Maurice Davis can make a big difference. If you’ve been charged with a firearm-related offense, you can call Maurice Davis today at (313) 818-3238 for a free and confidential consultation regarding your case.