In Michigan, there is a criminal offense commonly referred to as “careless, reckless, or negligent use of firearms resulting in personal injury or death.” This crime occurs when someone’s gun misuse causes another to be injured or killed but where their mental state is less than that required for the crime of intentional killing. This is a separate crime from damage to the personal property, house, or land owned by another person.
A few legal terms of art are used in this criminal context. First, the word negligence (when used concerning this offense) means not taking reasonable care under the circumstances. Second, as used here, a firearm means any weapon designed to, will in fact, or may be converted easily, to eject a projectile out of the object using an explosive charge.
Michigan Careless, Reckless, or Negligent Use of Firearms Resulting in Injury or Death Attorney
If you are being investigated for careless, reckless, or negligent use of a firearm that resulted in injury or death, the consequences can be harsh. You may face several years of imprisonment and stiff fines. It is critical to retain an experienced Michigan gun crime attorney under these circumstances. Dallo Law, P.C. is here to help.
At Dallo Law, P.C., J. Dallo is a skilled lawyer who has the unique criminal defense experience needed to fight any type of firearm and weapon crime. He can provide your case the one-on-one attention it needs to produce reduced or dismissed charges.
Call Dallo Law, P.C. today to set up your first consultation free of charge at (248) 283-7000. Dallo Law, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Oakland County and Macomb County area including Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, Clarkston, Auburn Hills, Novi, Sterling Heights, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Warren.
- Elements of the Offense
- Penalties for Careless, Reckless, or Negligent Use of Firearms Resulting in Injury or Death
- Defenses for Careless, Reckless, or Negligent Use of Firearms Resulting in Injury or Death
- Statute of Limitations
- Additional Resources
As defined under Michigan law, there are generally five elements of the crime of “careless, reckless, or negligent use of firearms resulting in personal injury or death.” There are four consistent elements and one element that is variable in re: the specific crime. Whether or not the final element is used depends upon the particular facts of any given case.
The first consistent element is that a human being was injured or killed as a result of the defendant’s conduct. This may be obvious, but it is an essential element that requires proof. The second element that always must be proven by the State is that the discharge of a gun factually caused the injury or death of the person referenced in the first element. Third, any prosecutor who is trying to secure a conviction for the crime of “careless, reckless, or negligent use of firearms resulting in personal injury or death” must prove that the gun was discharged because of the defendant’s carelessness, recklessness, or negligence. This is a mental state element. Finally, the fourth consistent element that the State must prove is that the defendant was not acting in a willful or wanton mental state.
As to the variable element, the State may need to prove one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The first possible element is that the defendant discharged the gun. The second possible element is that when the gun discharge occurred, the gun was under the defendant’s immediate control and that the defendant caused the discharge or allowed the discharge to occur.
A conviction for “careless, reckless, or negligent use of firearms resulting in personal injury or death” results in a maximum incarceration penalty of up to two years in a Michigan State prison. A conviction for this offense also carries up to a $2,000 potential fine. There is also the option of the court imposing up to one year in the local jail. By law, the choice between these potential outcomes is left to the trial court’s discretion.
In addition, if anyone is convicted under this statute, regardless of the trial court sentence, the guilty party’s hunting privileges may be suspended for up to three years from the date the guilty conviction was entered. This type of additional penalty may be especially important in protecting the public from a careless hunter who has injured or killed another person while hunting. However, because this penalty is discretionary, the application of this additional provision is left up to the trial court.
To defend against a charge of “careless, reckless, or negligent use of firearms resulting in personal injury or death,” an attorney can mount a defense by holding the prosecution to its strict burden requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden of proof is the highest burden imposed on the justice system as a whole. It requires the prosecutor in each criminal case to prove each element of a criminal charge.
Because the charge of “careless, reckless, or negligent use of firearms resulting in personal injury or death” requires a particular mental state, most defense strategists fight to ensure that the prosecutor can indeed prove the defendant’s mental state at the time of the alleged offense. The government must prove that the defendant was careless, reckless, or negligent but emphatically not acting willfully or wantonly. This is a narrow band of allowable mental states, which is often challenging to prove in the wake of an accident with a firearm. When a genuine accident occurs, wherein a criminal defendant has not acted carelessly, recklessly, or negligently, will not result in a proper conviction under Michigan law.
Another potential avenue for defense in this instance is factual, as the government’s attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the injury or death in question resulted from the gun’s discharge. Depending on the case’s specific facts, this may be difficult for the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
As with most misdemeanors in the State of Michigan, a charge of “careless, reckless, or negligent use of firearms resulting in personal injury or death” must be filed within six years of the date of the alleged offense. This limitation means that if an alleged crime occurred over six years ago, the government cannot rightfully seek to prosecute a defendant criminally for that alleged offense.
Importantly, however, a statute of limitations may potentially be “tolled” or paused while a criminal defendant is outside the State of Michigan. Once that person is back within the state, the statute of limitation begins to run again.
Thinking About Weapons Safety | Military.com – This article from the Military.com website provides basic firearms safety rules. Following these rules can help ensure that careless, reckless, or negligent discharges occur less often and, if and when they occur, result in the least amount of damage to other people who may be around at the time.
Michigan Model Criminal Jury Instructions 11.20 | Michigan Supreme Court – On page 275 of the linked .pdf file, any interested individual can reference the model jury instruction used by many trial courts in Michigan for the offense of “careless, reckless, or negligent use of firearms resulting in personal injury or death.”
Bloomfield Hills Negligent Use of Firearms Resulting in Injury or Death Lawyer | Oakland County, MI
If you have been arrested for careless, reckless, or negligent use of a firearm that resulted in injury or death, you should take these charges seriously and retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At Dallo Law, P.C., attorney J. Dallo and his legal team can look closely at your situation to determine the best strategy to defend you against these accusations.
Don’t leave your freedom at stake. Call Dallo Law, P.C. now at (248) 283-7000 to arrange a consultation today and speak with attorney J. Dallo about your legal options.
Dallo Law, P.C. is located in Bloomfield Hills, but we accept clients throughout Oakland County and Macomb County, Michigan.