Court Explains Admissibility of Evidence of Other Acts in Michigan Criminal Matters

While gun ownership is generally lawful, people who have been convicted of felonies often lose their right to own weapons and can be charged with criminal offenses if guns are found in their possession. In many cases, though, the police will not have direct evidence of possession of a firearm but will have to rely on circumstantial evidence to establish a defendant’s guilt. Although circumstantial evidence is generally admissible, evidence of other wrongful acts usually is not. Recently, a Michigan court issued a ruling explaining the admissibility of other acts evidence in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm. If you are charged with a weapons offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a dedicated Michigan criminal defense lawyer to discuss what evidence the prosecution may put forth.

The Underlying Incidents and Defendant’s Conviction

It is reported that the defendant sent the victim threatening text messages, including a picture of an assault rifle. Later that day, the defendant went to a party hosted by the victim and got into a verbal altercation with her before pointing a gun at her head. He left the party, but that evening he became involved in a high-speed chase with the victim and fired shots at her vehicle. The victim then called the police and reported the defendant shot at her.

Allegedly, the defendant was arrested a week later. The police searched his home and found an assault rifle. He was charged with multiple crimes, including possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a felony. The defendant appealed, arguing in part that the prosecution improperly relied on evidence of other acts to establish his guilt.

Admissibility of Evidence of Other Acts

The defendant argued that the arresting officer’s testimony regarding a rifle found in the defendant’s home a week after the incident was inadmissible other act evidence and that its admission was highly prejudicial. The admission of evidence of other acts is governed by Michigan law. Specifically, the law provides that evidence of other wrongs or crimes is not admissible to prove a person’s character or that they acted in accordance with a certain character, but it may be admitted for other purposes, such as to show motive, opportunity, or intent.

In the subject case, the court found that the evidence in question did not truly constitute other acts evidence. The court explained that it is not uncommon for a criminal defendant to roam free for some time prior to an arrest and that searches conducted days after a crime is committed often uncover tools used in the crime. As such tools are evidence of the crime rather than evidence of separate acts of possession, they do not fall under the umbrella of other acts. Thus, the defendant’s conviction was affirmed.

Meet with a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in Michigan

Firearm crimes can carry significant penalties, and it is critical for people charged with weapons crimes to seek legal counsel regarding their options. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly to help you pursue a favorable result. You can reach him through the online form or at (734) 883-9584 to set up a free meeting.

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