Michigan treats gun crimes very seriously. Understanding when it is legal to carry a pistol in a vehicle can prevent a registered gun owner from facing criminal charges. As an initial matter, any person who carries a gun in their vehicle for an unlawful purpose can be charged with a concealed weapons crime.
Any firearm in a vehicle is considered “concealed” under Michigan law, which makes it relatively easy for gun owners to be charged with a crime if their weapons are discovered and proper protocol hasn’t been observed. Thankfully, when someone is charged with a crime related to carrying a pistol in a vehicle, an experienced criminal defense attorney can provide a thorough explanation of the law and help build the strongest defense possible.
Michigan Carrying A Pistol In A Vehicle Attorney
If you have been charged with carrying a pistol in a vehicle, you could be facing serious time behind bars and significant fines. In order to protect your freedom and rights, it is imperative that you reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney in Michigan today. J. Dallo at Dallo Law, P.C. is a knowledgeable and experienced defense lawyer who can analyze the facts in your case and present the evidence in a way that is most favorable to you.
Fight back by calling Dallo Law, P.C. at (248) 283-7000 today for a free consultation. Dallo Law, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Oakland County and Macomb County, Michigan area.
- Elements Of Concealed Weapons Or Pistol Crimes In Michigan
- Penalties For Concealed Weapons In A Vehicle Crime In Michigan
- Defenses To A Charge Of Concealed Weapons Crime In Michigan
- Additional Resources
In Michigan, a defendant is guilty of a felony if they carry a concealed pistol in a vehicle without a license. It does not matter whether the vehicle is turned on or whether it is being driven. Under the law, a person only needs to “operate” or “occupy” the vehicle. This means that a person sitting in a vehicle with a gun present can be charged with a crime if the person does not have a proper carry license in their possession.
Whether charges are imposed on someone suspected of this offense depends on the purpose of carrying the pistol and the presence or absence of a concealed pistol license. An individual with a license can carry a pistol in a vehicle for lawful purposes, including:
- Hunting or target practice;
- Protection of self or another person; and
- Attendance at a gun show or travel to a firearm repair shop
If found with a pistol in the vehicle, carried for one of the above purposes, the pistol holder is highly unlikely to be charged with a crime.
Those without a license may also be able to avoid charges when a pistol is:
- In a firearms case;
- In the trunk; and
- Not loaded with ammunition.
Additionally, a person operating a vehicle without a trunk may be able to avoid charges so long as the gun is secured in such a way that others in the vehicle cannot access the gun.
The individuals at risk of being charged are those who do not have a license and have not properly secured and unloaded their gun.
In Michigan, a person convicted of a concealed weapons crime may serve up to five years in prison and/or pay a fine of up to $2,500. Individuals who are found transporting a pistol greater than 26 inches in length are subject to additional penalties if their pistol is not registered. If convicted, potential sentencing terms are heavily dependent on multiple factors, including:
- Criminal history generally;
- Criminal history, including the same or similar offenses;
- Discretion of the judge and prosecutor; and
- The ability of their criminal defense attorney.
A person convicted of this offense will likely lose their license to carry a pistol. Because gun crime charges can lead to severe consequences, a skilled criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between a guilty verdict or plea, a mild or harsh sentence, or a complete dismissal of the charges in question. It is essential to contact an attorney upon being charged with a gun crime or when someone believes they could be charged with the crime soon.
The Constitution of the United States and the Michigan Constitution insist that defendants are legally innocent until proven guilty. This means that the prosecution – who represents the State of Michigan – carries the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A strong defense includes counterevidence and finding flaws in the prosecutor’s case.
Several specific defenses can potentially push back successfully against a concealed weapons charge. A skilled criminal defense attorney can best determine the most appropriate defenses for a particular case. Some common defenses include the following:
Lack of Knowledge or Intent: To prove a defendant’s guilt, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to carry the pistol in the vehicle. A defendant who did not know a pistol was present in the vehicle or did not intend to carry the pistol can potentially have their charges dismissed. Common situations where this defense applies involve a driver who has a spouse or partner who is licensed to carry a pistol, but the license holder forgot to remove the pistol from the vehicle.
Not a Vehicle: To be charged and convicted of the crime, a defendant must have been occupying or operating a motor vehicle, including a sedan, SUV, motorcycle, scooter, riding lawnmower, ATV, or golf cart. If a defendant was charged with the crime, but it is debatable whether the vehicle was a vehicle for the purpose of the statute, it can be a defense to argue that the defendant was not operating or occupying a vehicle.
Not Occupying or Operating a Vehicle: While a less common defense, a defendant who was not occupying or operating the vehicle where the pistol was found can potentially have charges dismissed. In these situations, the facts heavily determine the usefulness of the defense.
Aggressive Negotiation: Sometimes, the facts and evidence against a defendant are strong. In these situations, an excellent criminal defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the penalties as much as possible, including reduced prison sentence terms and fines. In some circumstances, negotiations can result in completely avoiding prison time.
It is important for those carrying a pistol to know that misunderstanding the law is not a defense.
Michigan Criminal Jury Instructions 11.1 | Michigan Supreme Court — If a case proceeds to a jury trial, the jury is read a series of instructions before determining guilt. The instruction for “carrying concealed weapon–pistol” tells the jury how to determine whether a defendant is guilty or innocent of this crime.
Concealed Pistol License Requirements | Michigan State Police — The Michigan State Police provide an online resource for individuals interested in carrying firearms or obtaining a concealed pistol license.
Bloomfield Hills Carrying a Pistol in a Vehicle Lawyer | Oakland County, MI
If you are being investigated for carrying a pistol in a vehicle in Michigan, there is no time to delay in seeking the guidance of a competent firearm lawyer. With a dedicated criminal defense attorney by your side such as J. Dallo at Dallo Law, P.C., you could face these charges head-on and potentially resolve them in the most favorable way possible.
Attorney Dallo has years of experience representing clients charged with firearm and weapons crimes. He can do the same for you. Call (248) 283-7000 today to set up your first consultation for free.
Dallo Law, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Oakland County and Macomb County area inclduing Warren, Clinton Township, Sterling Heights, Mount Clemens, St. Clair Shores, Roseville, Bloomfield Hills, Southfield, Pontiac, Rochester, Auburn Hills, West Bloomfield Township, Farmington Hills and Madison Heights.