Michiganders are often shocked to learn the wide-ranging conduct that is prosecuted as home invasion in our state. First degree home invasion—punishable by a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine —is particularly troublesome because it encompasses acts that are frequently thought of as far less serious infractions. The common element to all three degrees of home invasion is some type of illegal entry or presence—either forceful or without permission—to another’s dwelling. First degree home invasion is distinguished from second degree home invasion by the presence of a lawful occupant in the dwelling or the defendant’s possession of a deadly weapon.
Essentially, the difference between second-degree home invasion and third-degree home invasion is the criminal intent or type of criminal act committed while inside the dwelling. For example, did the actor commit an assault or larceny while in the home or did they commit a different misdemeanor? This may all seem rather straight forward, but that is only until you start to apply the law to the facts. When most people think ‘first-degree home invasion,’ they are imagining violent scenes of masked, armed intruders kicking through the door in middle of the night in a mad dash for the family safe. While that scenario certainly satisfies the elements of MCL 750.110a(2)(a), there is a great deal of other behavior that is far removed from the scene described above which can also end up charged as first-degree home invasion: stealing a beer from a neighbor’s garage refrigerator while his wife was in the home has been charged as first-degree home invasion in Leelanau County, drunkenly wandering into a stranger’s home and eating a bag of potato chips was enough for the 86th district court in Grand Traverse County to bind someone over for trial, as was opening a screen door to save a fiancé who looked like she was overdosing on drugs and fending off the homeowner suspected of feeding those drugs to her.
Chances are if you are reading this, your behavior falls in the latter category. And while reading the examples above may elicit a chuckle among a disinterested crowd, if you’re charged with first, second or third degree home invasion, we at Mas/Stig-Nielsen know that this is no joke to you. Relying on our courtroom experience, legal research and knowledge of the law, we can assess the particular facts of your case to determine what your options are.