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Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Felon in Possession of a Firearm in Michigan

A felony conviction is not necessarily a bar to possessing a gun in Michigan. In fact, gun rights can be restored for many who have felony convictions on their criminal records. While specific conditions must be met for this to happen, Michigan law does establish criminal charges for illegal possession of a gun by a felon. A conviction on these charges can bring severe penalties.

For felons who want to own a gun, as well as those charged with felon in possession of a firearm (FPF), understanding how Michigan weapons laws allow and restrict the possession of guns for felons is crucial. It can be the key to protecting their rights in and outside the courtroom. In light of that, the following shares important information about when convicted felons can legally possess guns and what charges they can face for illegal possession of firearms in Michigan.

As helpful as this information is, a 5-star Lansing criminal defense attorney at O’Keefe Law can provide more answers and case-specific advice whenever you need it.

When Can Felons Legally Possess a Gun in Michigan?

Convicted felons must wait a certain period of time and satisfy other requirements in order to restore their gun rights and legally be able to possess a gun in Michigan. In particular, individuals with a felony conviction can only restore their rights to own, carry, buy, and sell a gun in Michigan if they do all of the following in connection with their previous felony case:

  • Satisfy all terms of incarceration: This means serving the jail or prison term imposed in the case. In the event of house arrest, it would mean satisfying the term of that penalty.
  • Successfully completing probation or parole: Each term of probation or parole must be completed, from the community service to court-ordered therapy sessions. Additionally, it’s crucial to not be charged with new crimes, both as a term of probation or parole after a felony and in terms of what felons need to do to stay in good standing to get their gun rights restored in the future.
  • Pay all fees and fines ordered by the court as part of their previous felony case:In addition to restitution and court fines, this includes any expenses someone needs to pay in order to complete other terms of their sentence, like the costs of ignition interlock devices after a felony DWI conviction or enrollment fees for anger management programs after a felony assault conviction.

Once these conditions have been satisfied, a 3-year waiting period takes effect. That means, the convicted felon will have to wait at least 3 years, after completely satisfying all of the above-listed conditions, before (s)he has the opportunity to restore his or her gun rights.

How Expungements Impact Gun Possession Rights

Expungements effectively erase a criminal record. So, anyone who is successful in getting a felon conviction expunged from their record can still legally possess a gun in Michigan as long as:

  • They are not otherwise barred from owning a gun: People prohibited from owning firearms in Michigan can include those who have active protection orders against them, those with bond orders banning gun possession, and people who are on parole or probation.
  • They possess a legal firearm for lawful use: Firearms that are illegal to possess in Michigan include machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, and automatic weapons. In contrast, handguns, rifles, and standard-barrel shotguns are generally legal. Similarly, lawful uses will include carrying for the purposes of hunting, shooting practice, or protection. Unlawful use would be carrying a weapon with the intention of committing (or during) criminal activity.
  • They carry the gun as required by law: This means abiding by all open carry or concealed carry laws that apply to them and their situation. Specifically, it also means not carrying a weapon in places where they are strictly prohibited, like in hospitals, casinos, courts, and weapon-free school zones.

A Word of Caution About Federal Laws: What Convicted Felons in Michigan Need to Know

While convicted felons in Michigan can get their gun rights restored, these rights will not be restored at a federal level. That means, for the purposes of federal law, it will still be illegal for convicted felons to possess firearms—even if they have done everything they should to get their gun rights restored by the state of Michigan.

So, federal agents, like Drug Enforcement Agents (DEA) and border patrol, can and likely will arrest felons for possession of a firearm if they encounter them. Consequently, it’s best for convicted felons to be extremely careful when and where they choose to own, possess, use, buy, and sell guns once they do get their firearm rights restored in Michigan.

What Are the Penalties for a Conviction of Felon in Possession of a Firearm Charges?

As a class E felony, FPF charges can be punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 in fines. These charges and penalties can be brought even if:

  • Firearms are inoperable: This includes guns that cannot be fired because they are broken or they are antiques.
  • Ammunition is involved: If a felon is only caught with ammunition and no firearms, (s)he can still be charged with felon in possession of a firearm in Michigan.
  • There is a lack of knowledge: Not knowing a device is a prohibited weapon under Michigan law is not considered a viable defense in FPF cases.

What Are the Defense Options for FPF Charges?

There is no one-option-fits-all defense for charges of felon in possession of a firearm. Instead, the best defense cases against these charges will be structured around the:

  • The inconsistencies and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case: A lack of physical evidence, conflicting evidence, and credibility issues with the prosecutor’s witnesses can all open up opportunities to unravel the state’s case against the accused. A good defense lawyer can identify and leverage these opportunities to strengthen the defense case.
  • The type and strength of the evidence available to support the defense case: When evidence may be limited, it can be helpful for defense teams to go over police reports to try to uncover new evidence. Similarly, a good defense case will want to corroborate certain evidence with expert testimony, depending on the circumstances involved.
  • The accused individual’s objectives: When there’s a need or goal to resolve a case ASAP out of court—or give a defendant the chance to have their day in court—these objectives will also be critical considerations in shaping and presenting a defense case.

More specifically, these tactics can take form through defense arguments like:

  • The defendant only possessed the firearm as a means for self-defense.
  • The defendant was legally allowed to possess the firearm because his or her gun rights have already been restored.
  • The firearm was discovered in the course of an illegal search and seizure.
  • The firearm belonged to a third party, and the defendant was unaware of its presence.

Strengthen Your Case With an Experienced Lansing Criminal Defense Lawyer: Contact O’Keefe Law

If you or someone you love has been charged with felon in possession of a firearm, you need fierce defense representation if you’re serious about safeguarding your rights and your freedom. You need Lansing Criminal Defense Lawyer Patrick William O’Keefe.

Call 517-273-0421 or email O’Keefe Law for a free, confidential consultation and important advice about your defense options.

The truth is that felons who face new criminal charges can have an even harder time during a subsequent go around with the criminal justice system. That can mean good people who have made mistakes in their past end up in the crosshairs of the law—and that a trial-tested attorney can be pivotal to helping them clear their name in court.

When it’s time to put up a fight in these cases and seek the best possible resolutions, Attorney Patrick William O’Keefe can provide strong, strategic representation at every stage of a case.

Remember, it is never too early to hire the right attorney, but it could be too late.

If you contact just one attorney, you must contact board-certified Attorney Patrick William O’Keefe. He provides the representation, support, and service he would demand in your shoes, and he always strives for optimal resolutions, including dismissals, acquittals, and the many alternatives to incarceration whenever possible.

The team at O’Keefe Law looks forward to helping you with a weapons case or any criminal case. In the meantime, check out some of our previous results and client testimonials to learn more about why we are a 5-star criminal defense law firm in and around Lansing, MI.

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