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What is the difference between a “CCW” and a “CPL” in Michigan?

By Daniel T. Geherin

Many Michigan residents are proud gun owners. People use and rely on guns for a wide range of recreation, hunting, and protection purposes. However, these same Michigan residents often get into serious legal trouble when they transport or carry those guns improperly or unlawfully. And the problem often comes by misinterpreting their rights and responsibilities relating to owning and registering guns vs. carrying guns in a public place.  

Dan Geherin, owner of the Geherin Law Group, PLLC. (GLGMichigan) in Ann Arbor, is an affiliate attorney with the Armed Citizens Legal Network. Dan has prosecuted and defended thousands of gun cases in his 25-year criminal justice career. As a former prosecutor, Dan prosecuted gun offenses while assigned to two anti-gang units.  As a board-certified criminal defense attorney, Dan has defended hundreds of CCW allegations in courtrooms throughout Southeastern Michigan.

Daily, GLG Michigan fields calls from people who are either new to purchasing a gun, or worse, have been arrested for CCW and are confused about their rights. Questions arise such as this:

“What is a CPL,” and how do I obtain one?”

“What is CCW, and what are the consequences?”

“Do the police have a right to search my car or clothing upon a routine encounter?”

“What defenses exist to a CCW charge?”

Part of the confusion comes in the acronyms thrown around in Michigan weapons law.  “CPL” stands for Concealed Pistol License, and is the license a Michigan resident can obtain to carry a gun in a concealed manner (i.e., in the person’s pocket or clothing; or in the passenger compartment of his vehicle). Obtaining a CPL permit requires paperwork, attendance at classes, and an application and security clearing in the person’s county of application.   

In contrast, “CCW” stands for Carrying a Concealed Weapon, and is the criminal statute (MCL 750.22) that prohibits carrying a weapon (including a handgun) in a concealed fashion (on the person or in the vehicle) without obtaining a CPL permit. This is a felony statute, carrying with it up to 5 years in a state prison along with several other collateral consequences.  

Defending CCW charges often requires a multi-level approach.  First, the initial encounter must be examined to determine why police stopped or searched the person. Generally, police need either a search warrant or a valid exception to conduct a search of a person’s clothing or vehicle. If the stop or search was improper, the defense may center around a motion to suppress the evidence or even dismiss the case.  Second, if the person had a CPL in Michigan or another state, there may exist an affirmative defense to the charge.  Even if the person’s CPL expired, there may be arguments on how to defend or effectively negotiate the charge. Third, a legal analysis should be conducted as to whether the gun was actually “concealed” as required in the CCW statute. Fourth, a thorough review of the merits of the case must be considered as to the reason a person was carrying; was there a threat to repel? Was the person protecting his business? Did the person have knowledge of the gun in his or her car?  These factors might present a defense to the charge, or might help negotiate the charge away from a felony.  

If a person is convicted of CCW, he or she may have a felony record for the rest of his life. Depending upon the jurisdiction and prior record, he or she may face the very real prospect of jail or prison. You may be prohibited from ever owning or possessing a gun again in your lifetime. You may even have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and costs (on top of having your gun confiscated and destroyed), all for making the mistake of not understanding the legal requirements for carrying vs. owning a gun. 

Those faced with the scary prospect of a CCW charge need a dedicated, experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney in Ann Arbor like Dan Geherin and his team at GLGMichigan.  If you’re being investigated or charged with weapons or CCW charges in Washtenaw County or throughout Southeastern Michigan, please contact Dan Geherin and his team immediately. We’re available 24/7, and we’ll help put you at ease, form a plan to handle your case, and fight aggressively to protect your freedom. 

Schedule online at GLGMichigan, or call 24/7 (734) 263-2780.  GLG Michigan:  Defending weapons allegations throughout Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and Southeastern Michigan.