People v. Smith, Docket No. 13636

CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan (US)
Writing for the CourtV. J. BRENNAN; LEVIN
Citation49 Mich.App. 630,212 N.W.2d 768
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Robert Early SMITH, Defendant-Appellant
Docket NumberDocket No. 13636,No. 1,1
Decision Date26 September 1973

Page 768

212 N.W.2d 768
49 Mich.App. 630
PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Robert Early SMITH, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket No. 13636.
Court of Appeals of Michigan, Division No. 1.
Sept. 26, 1973.
Released for Publication Dec. 14, 1973.

[49 Mich.App. 632] Laurence C. Burgess, Detroit, for defendant-appellant.

Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Robert A. Derengoski, Sol. Gen., William L. Cahalan, Pros. Atty., Dominick R. Carnovale, Chief, App. Div., Thomas M. Khalil, Asst. Pros. Atty., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before V. J. BRENNAN, P.J., and LEVIN and O'HARA,* JJ.

V. J. BRENNAN, Presiding Judge.

Judge Levin in his dissent, we believe, has set up a standard which encompasses all gun-in-car cases and because of that reasoning it seems every situation where guns are found under the seat or on the floor and nobody claims them (and why should they) will require dismissal. And this standard we cannot agree to.

[49 Mich.App. 633]

Page 769

The defendant, Robert Early Smith, and three other persons were charged with committing the offense of carrying a concealed weapon in a motor vehicle. M.C.L.A. § 750.227; M.S.A. § 28.424. After the preliminary examination, the defendants including Smith were bound over for trial. Motions to quash the information were denied. Smith was granted leave to take an interlocutory appeal.

Detroit police officer Ward, the principal witness at the examination, testified that he and his partner observed a Ford Econoline van, in which Smith was a passenger, make several erratic U-turns in front of traffic. The four defendants were placed under arrest after officer Ward saw through the right window what he believed to be the stock of a rifle, opened the door, and grabbed an M--1 rifle from underneath the second seat. The defendants had not moved when the officers approached.

The van had three seats. Codefendant Gaut was driving. Codefendant Turner was seated next to him in the right front passenger seat. Codefendant Williams was occupying the second seat alone. The gun was on the floor in front of the second seat between the seat and Williams' legs. Defendant Smith was stretched out on the third seat with his feet up on the seat.

A cartridge belt and clips containing ammunition were found in the front seat between codefendants Gaut and Turner.

The first question is whether, under the concealed weapons statute, Supra, this defendant's presence in this vehicle under these circumstances constitutes sufficient evidence to bind him over for trial. The relevant statute provides:

'Sec. 5. If it shall appear that an Offense not cognizable by a justice of the peace Has been committed, and that there Is probable cause to believe the prisoner [49 Mich.App. 634] guilty thereof, and if the offense be bailable by the magistrate, and the prisoner offer sufficient bail, it shall be taken and the prisoner discharged; but if no sufficient bail be offered, or the offense be not bailable by the magistrate, the prisoner shall be committed to jail for trial.' (Emphasis supplied.) M.C.L.A. § 766.5; M.S.A. § 28.923.

At this stage, the people must first Establish each element, not Prove each beyond a reasonable doubt. In order for the examining magistrate to reach that conclusion, he must necessarily have proof before him of all of the elements of the offense. That is plain on the face of the statute. A holding to that effect should be based on the statute, not on the cases cited in Judge Levin's dissent. People v. Randall, 42 Mich.App. 187, 201 N.W.2d 292 (1972), does make such a holding, but the cases it is based on (People v. Kelsch, 16 Mich.App. 244, 167 N.W.2d 777 (1969), and People v. Barron, 381 Mich. 421, 163 N.W.2d 219 (1968)) both deal with a defendant's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to Convict, not to bind over. People v. Bellanca, 386 Mich. 708, 194 N.W.2d 863 (1972), just reiterates the statutory standard.

Assuming for the moment that the rifle falls within the meaning of the statute, it is clear that Someone was carrying it in violation of the statute. There is abundant authority that we review the examining magistrate only for abuse of discretion, People v. Paille #2, 383 Mich. 621, 178 N.W.2d 465 (1970). We find no such abuse here. The standard of proof for binding over isn't as high as conviction, People v. O'Leary, 6 Mich.App. 115, 148 N.W.2d 516 (1967). In Paille #2, supra, 383 Mich. at 626, 178 N.W.2d at 467, the Court defined probable cause as follows:

'In People v. Dellabonda (1933), 265 Mich. 486, at page 490, 251 N.W. 594, at page 595, the Court stated:

[49 Mich.App. 635] "To authorize the examining magistrate to bind appellant over for trial there must have been good reason to believe

Page 770

appellant guilty of the crime charged. Some cases hold a Prima facie case against the accused must be made out. This court has not defined what constitutes probable cause, leaving each case to be determined upon its facts. Bouvier defines probable cause as, 'A reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man in the belief that a person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged.' 3 Bouvier's Law Dictionary (Rawle's 3d Rev.), p. 2728." (Emphasis added.)

Thus, on this point we disagree with Judge Levin on the facts. An M--1 is not an inconspicuous article; it's 43 inches long, and, since it's an infantry weapon, quite heavy, so that it could also be used as a club. It was found partially under the second seat, and defendant was lying on the third seat. While, if he were especially non-observant, he could have missed it, it strains the imagination. That strained imagination should leave little doubt that the magistrate did not abuse his discretion. We should, however, be careful to say that this isn't enough to convict--a strained imagination still leaves room for reasonable doubt.

Is a 43-inch M--1 a 'dangerous weapon' within the meaning of M.C.L.A. § 750.227, M.S.A. § 28.424, which provides as follows:

'Sec. 227. Carrying concealed weapons--Any person who shall carry a danger, dirk, stiletto or Other dangerous weapon except hunting knives adapted and carried as such, concealed on or about his person, or whether concealed or otherwise in any vehicle operated or occupied by him, except in his dwelling house or place of business or on other land possessed by him; and any person who shall carry a pistol concealed on or about his person, or, whether concealed or otherwise, in any vehicle operated or occupied by him, except in his [49 Mich.App. 636] dwelling house or place of business or on other land possessed by him, without a license to so carry said pistol as provided by law, shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or by fine of not more than 2,500 dollars.' (Emphasis added.)

We can, if we choose, dive into the statute and examine it piece by piece making cross references to not only statutes but to statute-interpreting cases. However, we choose not to do...

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  • People v. Johnson, Docket No. 75775
    • United States
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    • 1 Octubre 1986 so, the defendant can only be bound over on such Page 235 offense as may be supported by the evidence produced. See People v. Smith, 49 Mich.App. 630, 212 N.W.2d 768 (1973) (Levin, J., dissenting). Proofs upon which to base the findings required by the statute must be introduced at a pre......
  • People v. Summers, Docket No. 22802
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