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Michigan judge dismisses gun charge via directed verdict

As readers know, most of the time criminal defendants in Michigan have a right to a jury trial. Having a jury of one’s peers decide whether the defendant is guilty or not is a cornerstone of the American criminal justice system.

Sometimes, though, the case does not make it to the jury. For example, the defense and the prosecution may reach a plea deal in the midst of trial. Other times, the defense attorney successfully petitions the judge to dismiss the charges.

Another way the judge can intervene is to issue a directed verdict following trial. In order to grant a motion for a directed verdict in a criminal case, the judge must find that no reasonable jury could vote to convict the defendant, based on the weakness of the prosecution’s case.

The judge in a Michigan weapons crimes trial from earlier in April issued a directed verdict, finding the defendant not guilty. He apparently agreed that the prosecution failed to prove that the defendant had a concealed gun on his person when police detained him on Christmas Eve 2013.

The defendant was walking on the street late that night. He had a pistol in a holster outside of his clothing, which is legal in Michigan. When a police cruiser pulled up behind him and turned on its lights, the defendant says, he turned around and raised his hands, to make his gun easily visible. Dashcam footage from the cruiser shows the gun visible on his right hip.

However, police claimed that the gun was concealed under his coat before the defendant raised his hands.

Before issuing the directed verdict, the judge asked the jury its opinion. Out of 14 jurors, only one thought the defendant was guilty.

Depending on the evidence, an experienced defense attorney may be able to get your case dismissed, or at least get the charges reduced, possibly removing the risk of jail time.

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