Information on crimes that are commonly charged in Michigan. If you need legal assistance, please contact a lawyer.
Statute: MCL 750.227
Crime Group: Public Safety
Sentence Class: E
Minimum Sentence: 0 Months
Maximum Sentence1: 60 Months (5 Years)
Maximum Fine: $2,500.00
Jury Instructions: MCJI2d 11.1+
Sex Offender Registration Required: No
(1) A person shall not carry a dagger, dirk, stiletto, or double-edged non-folding stabbing instrument of any length, or any other dangerous weapons, except as a hunting knife adapted and carried as such, concealed on or about his or her person, or whether concealed or otherwise in any vehicle operated or occupied by the person, except in his or her dwelling house, place or business or on other land possessed by the person.
(2) A person shall not carry a pistol concealed on or about his or her person, or, whether concealed or otherwise, in a vehicle operated or occupied by the person, except in his or her dwelling house, place of business, or on other land possessed by the person, without a license to carry the pistol as provided by law and if licensed, shall not carry the pistol in a place or manner inconsistent with any restrictions upon such license.
(3) A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $2,500.00
Unless you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, it is illegal in the State of Michigan to carry a pistol, pepper spray, taser, certain kinds of knives, and other weapons if the weapon is concealed. The courts tend to read the word “concealed” very broadly, and have found weapons to be “concealed” when they were in a briefcase, in a pocket (despite the fact that the weapon was large and it was obvious that the weapon was in the pocket), or even in a holster that is partially covered by a jacket. It is also illegal to have a pistol in an automobile unless it is unloaded, in a locked case, and in the trunk. Even if the pistol is in the trunk and completely inaccessible, a person can still be charged with carrying it as a concealed weapon if the pistol is loaded and/or not in a locked case.
In order to convict on this charge, the prosecutor must prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of the charge vary, depending on where the weapon was being carried (on or about the defendant’s person or in a vehicle) and the type of weapon being carried. However, the prosecution must always prove the defendant knew (s)he was carrying the weapon. For those charges involving the concealment of a firearm, the prosecution must prove the defendant did not have a license to carry a concealed firearm.
The most frequent issue at trial will be the knowledge of the defendant, especially where the weapon was in a vehicle instead of on his/her person. Also, it is not against the law to carry a gun that is completely unusable as a firearm and cannot easily be made operable, so the prosecution must prove the firearm is either functioning correctly or that it could easily be made functional.
The prosecution will occasionally allow people who are charged with this offense to plead to an Attempt to Carry a Concealed Weapon. This charge is still a felony, and carries a maximum sentence of 2 ½ years in prison for a defendant with no prior felony convictions. It should be noted that a felony conviction will prohibit the defendant from ever being able to lawfully possess or carry a firearm for the rest of his life under federal law. In extraordinary circumstances, however, a defendant may be allowed to plea to other lesser charges, including “Improper Transportation of a Firearm” (MCL 750.227c, a “high court misdemeanor” with a maximum two-year sentence) or “Reckless Handling of a Firearm” (MCL 752.862, a misdemeanor with a 90-day maximum sentence). Since these charges are not considered “felonies” under federal law, they do not carry a lifetime ban on possessing or carrying firearms, and as such are very desirable as potential alternative charges. Cases where a prosecutor will agree to a plea to these charges are highly unusual, however, as prosecutors tend to take very hard positions on cases involving firearms.
In some cases, a defendant who is between the ages of 17 and 21 (or between 21 and 24 years of age with approval from the prosecutor) may be eligible for sentencing under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (“HYTA”, MCL 762.11). HYTA is a deferred sentencing program that recognizes that when people are young, they often make stupid mistakes that should not haunt them for the rest of their lives. If a defendant is sentenced under HYTA, the court allows the defendant to offer a guilty plea, but takes the plea “under advisement” without entering it as a conviction. The court will then place the defendant on probation for a term set by the court. A defendant who successfully completes the probation will have all charges dropped and no public record of the offense will remain. However, a defendant who does not successfully complete the HYTA probation will have his/her probation revoked, the conviction will be entered, and a new (usually harsher) sentence will be imposed without a trial. HYTA status may be granted by a judge as many times as the judge wants; there is no “one per lifetime” limitation (although many judges do have a “one HYTA” policy).
A defendant convicted under this statute will typically be sentenced according to the Michigan sentencing guidelines. Because these guidelines consider both the nature of the current crime and the past record of the defendant—and because the guidelines are “advisory only” and judges are not required to follow them—it is impossible to predict a likely sentence without taking a look at the specific facts of a defendant’s case and reviewing the past record of a defendant, and even then such predictions are an “educated guess” at best.
1Maximum sentence shown is for a first-time felony offender. Prior felonies make a defendant liable for “Habitual Offender” (“HO”) sentencing enhancement. Thus, for a defendant with one prior felony or attempted felony (“HO2”), the maximum sentence raises to 90 months (7.5 years); for a defendant with two prior felonies or attempted felonies (“HO3”), the maximum sentence raises to 120 months (10 years); and a defendant with three or more prior felonies or attempted felonies (“HO4”) faces a maximum sentence of life.
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