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Possessing A Firearm While Under The Influence

Possession of a firearm while under the influence is made illegal in Michigan by Michigan Penal Code § 750.237. There are three ways that someone can be considered under the influence for the purposes of possession and operation of a firearm in Michigan. First, the individual can be under the influence of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or a combination of the two. Second, the person can have a BAC of .08 or higher. Third, the person’s ability to operate a firearm can be visibly impaired by consuming an intoxicating liquor, a controlled substance, or a combination of the two.

Possessing a firearm while under the influence comes with harsh penalties, which become harsher if the defendant also fires the weapon. Generally, the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail. The fine will be $100 if the individual only possessed the firearm while intoxicated but up to $500 if the defendant discharged the firearm.

Michigan Possessing A Firearm While Under The Influence Attorney

If you are being investigated for possessing a firearm while under the influence in Michigan, contact Dallo Law, P.C.. Dallo Law, P.C. has provided a strong defense to their clients for years for their firearm and weapon charges. Attorney Dallo and his legal can offer skilled legal representation and defend your rights.

Dallo Law, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Oakland County and Macomb County area including Bloomfield Hills, Pontiac, Troy, Rochester, West Bloomfield Township, Warren, Sterling Heights, and Utica. Call (248) 283-7000 to schedule a free consultation with Dallo Law, P.C. today.

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Additional Penalties for Possessing A Firearm While Under The Influence

If the defendant discharged a firearm while intoxicated and caused serious impairment of another person’s body function, the charge increases from a misdemeanor to a felony. Felonies are much more serious than misdemeanors for a variety of reasons. Felonies generally carry much longer incarceration sentences, have more serious implications for future background checks, and cause defendants to lose some of their civil rights.

The maximum prison sentence for an offense under this provision is five years, and the fine will be between $1,000 and $5,000. It should be noted that if someone drunkenly discharges a firearm and causes serious injury to another, they will face other charges for the shooting itself. This charge is only meant to penalize the defendant’s intoxicated state at the event’s time. Examples of serious impairment of body function include:

  • Loss of an organ
  • Loss of a limb, foot, hand, finger, or thumb or loss of the use of such body parts
  • Loss of or loss of use of an eye or ear
  • Brain damage
  • Coma lasting more than three days
  • Permanent visible disfigurement, such as severe scars
  • Subdural hemorrhage or hematoma
  • Skull or other bone fracture

Operating a firearm while under the influence is an even more serious offense if discharging it ends someone else’s life. This offense is a felony. The maximum jail sentence for this crime is 15 years, with a fine between $2,500 and $10,000. It’s important to remember that these penalties will come in addition to any base charges, such as manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter.

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Dangers Of Possessing A Firearm While Under The Influence

Handling a firearm while under the influence is similar to driving under the influence. Vehicles and firearms are potentially hazardous to human life in the wrong hands. That’s why just like it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence, it is also illegal to possess a firearm while under the influence in Michigan. There are many reasons why possessing a firearm while intoxicated is dangerous. Some of them include the following:

  • Risk of escalating a non-violent argument or fight into a fatal dispute
  • Stray bullets from shooting into the air or what the defendant believes is a deserted area
  • Unintentionally discharging the firearm
  • Tempers flaring and someone discharging a firearm when they normally wouldn’t have
  • Having the firearm stolen, as intoxication may render a gun owner inattentive
  • Leaving the firearm out of its safe, particularly somewhere accessible to children
  • Bad aim for a shot not intended to be fatal—for example, trying to shoot someone in the leg in self-defense but missing and shooting them in a vital organ

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How Do Police Know The Defendant Is Intoxicated?

One of the three definitions of intoxication for § 750.237 is visible intoxication. If the police arrive at a scene or an altercation and the defendant is drunk and possesses a firearm, they can be placed under arrest in Michigan. The police officer can request a blood, breath, or urine sample from the defendant if they have probable cause to believe that the offense of possession of a firearm while intoxicated has occurred. A defendant who has diabetes, hemophilia, or another disease that affects blood coagulants shouldn’t be required to give a blood sample but can still be required to submit to a urine or breath test.

Before a defendant is required to give a chemical sample for suspicion of intoxicated possession of a firearm, the police must inform the defendant of a few things. The defendant is allowed to refuse the test, but the police can seek out a warrant and force the test to occur anyway. The defendant is also allowed to get an independent chemical sample taken. However, if the police fail to give these warnings, they won’t get the results of the chemical analysis thrown out of court.

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Defenses for Possessing A Firearm While Under The Influence in Michigan

The defenses available against a charge of intoxicated possession of a firearm will vary based on the specific circumstances. It is best to review the situation as soon as possible with a criminal defense attorney before memory fades. The defendant’s constitutional rights could have been violated in the investigation of the crime. The defendant may not have been intoxicated or not possessed a firearm, as alleged. Independent lab results could show that the defendant wasn’t intoxicated. Self-defense could also be a defense against these charges. The defendant may have possessed the firearm but taken the proper precautions to keep it safe, such as locking it up in a case in the trunk of a vehicle. All of these will vary based on the specific facts of the situation, which should be reviewed with an attorney as soon as possible after the arrest.

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Additional Resources

Michigan Penal Code § 750.237 | Michigan Legislature – Visit the Michigan Legislature’s website for the statute that makes possessing a firearm while under the influence against the law.

Concealed Pistol Application and Instructions | Michigan State Police – Visit the Michigan State Police’s website for information regarding concealed carry.

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Bloomfield Hills Possessing A Firearm While Under The Influence Lawyer | Oakland County, MI

Firearms related offenses are treated extremely harshly in the State of Michigan. Unfortunately, penalties for violating weapon crimes can easily include steep fines and years of imprisonment. If you have been arrested for possessing a firearm while under the influence, attorney J. Dallo at Dallo Law, P.C. can form a strong defense for your case. Bloomfield Hills defense lawyer Dallo has comprehensive knowledge of firearm laws in Michigan that will allow him to aggressively defend your case in court.

Call Dallo Law, P.C. at (248) 283-7000 now 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.

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