In Michigan, carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) is a violation of MCL 750.227 and a very serious charge. The maximum punishment is up to five years in prison, $2,500 in fines, and forfeiture of the weapon. Many prosecutors will not offer a misdemeanor plea, even for first offenders. If you have been charged with carrying a concealed weapon, you need a criminal defense attorney on your side with experience in defending weapons charges.
Defining a Weapon
For purposes of CCW, a weapon is defined as:
- Double-edge non-folding stabbing instrument of any length
- Any other dangerous weapon (except a hunting knife adapted and carried as such)
Carrying and Concealed
It is required that the defendant knowingly carried the weapon. The reason why he was carrying it doesn’t matter. A weapon is concealed if it is not easily seen by those who come into normal contact with the defendant. Complete invisibility is not required. For example, if the grip of the gun is slightly protruding from defendant’s coat or under a car seat, it is concealed even though it isn’t entirely covered up.
A weapon can be concealed on someone’s person or in a vehicle. If charged with carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle, the defendant must have either placed the weapon in the car or knew the weapon was in the car and took part in either carrying or keeping the weapon in the car.
Defenses to Carrying a Concealed Weapon
- Defendant didn’t know the weapon was there—CCW is a specific intent crime and thus requires a “knowing” element. If Defendant was not aware the weapon was there or if the prosecutor cannot prove he knew it was there beyond a reasonable doubt, he cannot be convicted. This is frequently used as a defense when the weapon was found in a car. Circumstantial evidence plays a big role in this defense. For example, there was more than one person in the car, the gun was not registered to the defendant, the defendant is not the owner of the car. The defendant can use those to argue that he did not know it was there or create reasonable doubt that he knew it was there. The location of the weapon also is an important factor in this defense.
- The weapon wasn’t concealed—This is an obvious element of the charge but it is not one to be overlooked. If the weapon did not meet the statutory definition of being concealed, defendant cannot be convicted.
- Defendant Had a Concealed Pistol License—A concealed pistol license (CPL) gives lawful authority for someone to carry a concealed gun. However, this only applies if you have a valid CPL and you were carrying it in the location and manner prescribed by law.
- Defendant was Carrying the Weapon in His Home—You are lawfully permitted to carry a concealed weapon in your own house.
Plea Deals and Plea Negotiations
In an attempt to appear tough on crime, many prosecutors are very tough on any kind of weapons charge. A lot of prosecutors won’t even offer pleas to reduced charges, even if it is your first offense and you had no intent to do something unlawful or dangerous with the weapon. That places the defendant between a rock and hard place and is very frustrating and seems unfair. It also encourages litigation because the defendant essentially has nothing to lose if his offer is to “plead on the nose” unless other charges are being dismissed or there is a good sentencing agreement. If you have a previous felony record and you are caught with a weapon or gun, chances are you will be facing three charges: 1) carrying a concealed weapon, 2) felon in possession of a firearm, and 3) felony firearm. In that situation, your options are even worse. If you are an habitual offender, the maximum penalty increases even further.
If your case is weak or the prosecutor is willing to offer a plea because of mitigating circumstances there are some options. Brandishing a firearm is a minor misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and possession of a switchblade or automatic knife is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. There may be Fourth Amendment violations with your case that could lead to a suppression of the evidence or a dismissal of the charge. If convicted, you automatically lose your right to own, possess, or carry a firearm under state law and may have to wait years before those rights are restored.
If you or someone you know has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon, you need to be represented by an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney. Call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to our Michigan weapons charges defense lawyer.
Defending carrying a concealed weapon charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Livingston, Jackson, Shiawassee, Barry, Kent, Washtenaw in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, St. Johns, Ithaca, Brighton, Howell, Jackson, Corunna, Durand, Hastings, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor.