The crime of “reckless, wanton use, or negligent discharge of a firearm” can sometimes be thought of as an accidental discharge under circumstances where it is known that others’ safety or property is at risk of harm. This charge is filed when there are no injuries to other persons or property. Instead, an individual is accused of behaving in ways that did not seriously consider potential risks or the environment in which the firearm was discharged.
The crime is often associated with hunting accidents that do not result in injuries, target practice environments, holidays like Halloween or Independence Day, or even home settings where a weapon is unintentionally discharged. Although accidental discharges are common, the crime must also include negligent, willful, or wanton behavior.
Michigan Reckless, Wanton Use, Or Negligent Discharge Of A Firearm Attorney
Any charges related to firearms are very serious and require a skilled lawyer to protect your rights. If you have been arrested for reckless, wanton use, or negligent discharge of a firearm in Michigan, seek the help of experienced defense lawyer J. Dallo at Dallo Law, P.C. today. He has handled some of the most complex firearm cases and can do the same for you too.
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.
- Definitions Under Reckless, Wanton Use, Or Negligent Discharge Of A Firearm Statute
- Elements For Reckless, Wanton, Or Negligent Discharge Of A Firearm
- Penalties for Reckless, Wanton Use, Or Negligent Discharge Of A Firearm
- Defenses for Reckless, Wanton Use, Or Negligent Discharge Of A Firearm
- Additional Resources
Negligence: Michigan’s criminal jury instructions for negligence (11.21) define negligence as a failure to take “reasonable care under the circumstances as they were at the time.” Negligence is also described as engagement in unusually dangerous situations where a sensible person would know another person could be injured. Although a negligence-based offense often results from accidents, an accident itself is not enough to prove negligence. There must be something in the environment where a person should reasonably know that an injury could result.
Negligence is also defined by what it is not. Under Michigan law, a defendant’s negligence must be “ordinary” but more than “slight negligence.” If a person thought they needed to behave extremely carefully to prevent injury, they could still be “slightly negligent” in acting anyway. “Ordinary negligence” creates a higher burden of proof.
Willful: The jury instruction for willful defines willful as a defendant who “knowingly created the danger and intended to cause injury.”
Wanton: To act wantonly, a defendant must have “knowingly created the danger and knew what would probably happen when they did it.”
Under Michigan law, a defendant is guilty of a misdemeanor discharge offense when they:
- Recklessly, heedlessly, willfully, or wantonly;
- Uses, carries, handles, or discharges;
- A firearm; and
- Without due caution and circumspection for others’ rights, safety, or property.
Before a conviction can be secured, all of the elements of the offense must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
As a misdemeanor offense, the penalty for “reckless, wanton use, or negligent discharge of a firearm” may involve up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $500. However, penalties can also include alternatives for jail or fines, such as following all terms of probation.
Convicted individuals are also likely to lose hunting privileges for up to three years from their conviction date. If an individual has a concealed carry license, the licensee also risks losing their permit. Finally, a defendant can also be charged with violating a city ordinance for firearms discharged within city limits, subject to alternate penalties.
The offense of “reckless, wanton use, or negligent discharge of a firearm” is a relatively “lesser” gun crime that rarely proceeds to trial. Instead, a criminal defense attorney, on behalf of the defendant, will likely negotiate an agreement with the prosecutor. Strategies used to defend those accused will heavily depend on the following:
- Prior criminal history, generally;
- Prior criminal history of gun crimes;
- Circumstances of the case;
- Evidence available to the prosecutor and defense attorney.
Successful negotiations often result in reduced sentences or even a case dismissal.
For example, a hunting accident could result in a charge, but if the evidence favoring a conviction is mild to moderate and the defendant has no criminal history, the prosecutor could opt for diversion instead of conviction. On the other hand, in a case where a defendant has recent criminal history involving a firearm, and there is evidence that the defendant was under the influence of a chemical at the time of the accident, the prosecution could decide to dig its heels in.
If a case proceeds to trial, common defenses include:
Not Negligent: A defendant who behaves sensibly under the circumstances or could not have known that a particular situation was dangerous cannot be found guilty of the charges. Providing proof that the situation was a mere accident or aggressively arguing that the defendant was slightly negligent can result in a not-guilty verdict. A defense that causes doubt about the defendant’s negligence can be very successful.
Actions Not Wanton Or Willful: If a defendant can provide evidence that they did not knowingly create a danger or intend to cause injury, a defendant cannot be found guilty. This defense may require witness testimony to support the reality that the defendant was unaware of the risks of a particular situation or did not know what might happen under the circumstances.
Not a Firearm: While this might seem like an odd defense, some guns are not “firearms” defined by law. Exemptions often include antique guns.
Gun Safety Resources | Michigan Department of Health and Human Services — MDHHS provides numerous resources for individuals who want to learn more about gun storage, training courses, firearms laws, and teaching children about gun safety.
Hunter Safety Course | Michigan Department of Natural Resources — To legally hunt, hunters must complete a safety course. Individuals charged with “reckless, wanton use, or negligent discharge of a firearm” due to a hunting incident will face additional charges and consequences if they have not taken the course.
Obtaining A Concealed Pistol License | Michigan State Police — Although charges for gun crimes can result from all sorts of circumstances, taking time to learn about gun safety and obtain a license to carry can prevent mishandling of weapons, including negligent or wanton actions.
Bloomfield Hills Reckless, Wanton Use, Or Negligent Discharge Of A Firearm Lawyer | Oakland County, MI
If you have been arrested for reckless, wanton use, or negligent discharge of a firearm, attorney J. Dallo at Dallo Law, P.C. can identify the best defense for your case. Oakland County criminal defense attorney Dallo has years of experience helping those accused of firearm and weapon crime obtain victory in the courtroom. He can utilize his in-depth knowledge and skills to obtain a reduction or dismissal of charges.
Dallo Law, P.C. practices criminal defense 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.