Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Michigan gun possession case discussing the concept of constructive possession. When someone is charged with a possessory offense, the prosecution can prove the defendant possessed the item by showing he had actual or constructive possession. Actual possession is when a person has “immediate, physical control” over an object. Constructive possession, under Michigan law, occurs “when a person is near a firearm and there is indication of his or her control of the firearm, either directly or through another person.” Thus, a person must have both knowledge of an item as well as reasonable access to it, before they can be found to have possessed it.
According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was alleged to have shot at his wife’s former partner. The defendant was identified by the victim, the victim’s mother, and the victim’s new girlfriend. Three fired shell casings were recovered from the scene. Police arrested the defendant and, after searching his home, found a firearm and ammunition. However, the casings found at the scene were not proven to have come from the gun recovered from the defendant’s home.
At trial, the defendant testified that he knew the gun was in his home, but explained that it belonged to his father. The defendant also explained that he was home the entire night, that he was not involved in the shooting, and that he only left for 15 minutes to run to the store. The defendant’s friend testified that he was with the defendant when he went to the store. The jury acquitted the defendant an all charges except the firearm charge. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the prosecution failed to prove he “possessed” the firearm.
The court held that the evidence was sufficient to uphold the defendant’s conviction. The court noted that three witnesses testified that he shot at the victim with a gun, which was enough to show that the defendant actually possessed the firearm. The court also held that there was enough evidence to find that the defendant constructively possessed the gun. The court noted that the weapon was found in the defendant’s home, and that he had knowledge of its presence and reasonable access to it, because he owned the house. The court finally noted that, although the prosecution never argued constructive possession, it was reasonable for the jury to use the theory to convict the defendant of the gun possession charge because the judge instructed the jury on the concept of constructive possession.
Have You Been Charged with a Michigan Gun Crime?
If you have recently been arrested and charged after possessing a gun in Michigan, contact a dedicated criminal defense attorney for immediate assistance. At Michigan Defense Law, Attorney Paul J. Tafelski represents clients who face all kinds of serious charges, including Michigan gun crimes, drug offenses, domestic violence allegations, and alleged probation violations. To learn more about how we can help you defend against the serious charges you are facing, call 248-451-2200 to schedule a free consultation today.