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Thread: Willful blindness as it pertains to posted businesses

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    Regular Member Bronson's Avatar
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    Willful blindness as it pertains to posted businesses

    Ran across this legal term today and was wondering how it would come into play with the idea of a entering a business that is posted as "no firearms" and saying that you "didn't see the sign."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willful_blindness

    Willful blindness (sometimes called ignorance of law, willful ignorance or contrived ignorance or Nelsonian knowledge) is a term used in law to when an individual seeks to avoid civil or criminal liability for a wrongful act by intentionally putting himself in a position where he will be unaware of facts which would render him liable.

    For example, in a number of cases, persons transporting packages containing illegal drugs have asserted that they never asked what the contents of the packages were and so lacked the requisite intent to break the law.

    Such defences have not succeeded, as courts have been quick to determine that the defendant should have known what was in the package and exercised criminal recklessness by failing to find out.[citation needed]
    Bronson
    Last edited by Bronson; 11-16-2011 at 01:47 AM.
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    It might all hinge on sign placement. Inside the entrance on the wall behind you as you enter wouldn't be good sign placement.

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Trying to find anything in the Michigan laws that relates to either trespass or private property owners prohibition of firearms is coming up empty. Either I'm using the wrong search terms or there is no law relating to how a property owner (other than farmlands/timberlands, etc) must post to prevent trespass. Likewise I cannot find anything prescribing specific signage to prohibit carrying of firearms on private property.

    It's entirely possible my search skills are at fault. It's entirely possible the legislature just passed over these matters - but I'm guessing that's not probable.

    So - folks who are familiar with Michigan firearms laws - what are the requirements for posting?

    If there are no requirements specified in the law, then I suggest everything hinges on "conspicuousness" and your ability to show the court that the sign could not clearly and easily be seen and understood. That could be anything from a photo of the gunbuster sy,bol being on the bottom of the door to a printed notice amongst advertising such that it does not stand out from the general jumble of "stuff". Common law requires the property owner to make some effort to make the notice conspicuous. Your job in defending against a trespass charge is to show how inconspicuous the notice was.

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    It is none of my business what is in your pockets. Since you are innocent until proven guilty, and since the majority of people are not criminals, then I have to assume that your pot is medical, your gun is legal, and you walked by that sign without noticing it.

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    I could imagine it would be difficult to claim "ignorance" to the posting. You would need some good pictures of the sign and its location and prove beyond a doubt that its not in any way visible to someone just walking by. You also would probably face acusations that while carrying you should be concerned and more aware of signs such as those or call and check the policy and that could complicate things. If you had a really good argument and some solid pictures to back you up, you may be able to have it go your way.

    I dont know if there has been any cases where someone got off of any charges because they claimed not to see a posted sign. If any of you that are good at looking up cases would want to do so it would be interesting to see how a situation like this would hold up in court.

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    So, guilty until proven innocent then?

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    Regular Member Bikenut's Avatar
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    I would think the important consideration would be....

    Is there any law, or case law, that puts the force of law behind a sign as the sign itself being equal to notification?

    Would a sign all by itself be equal to the owner/owner's representative asking/requiring a person to leave the premises?
    Gun control isn't about the gun at all.... for those who want gun control it is all about their own fragile egos, their own lack of self esteem, their own inner fears, and most importantly... their own desire to dominate others. And an openly carried gun is a slap in the face to all of those things.

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    Also another good question would be if a sign is good enough for no weapons and can hold the same weight as the owner/representatives asking/requiring a person to leave...can places listed in MCL 750.234d post a sign acknowledging possession of firearms by non-CPL holders and it be recognized as permission to carry for non-CPL holders from that entity?

    And Stainless, isnt that always how it is, guilty until proven innocent..thats why youre arrested first and released later.
    Last edited by Yance; 11-16-2011 at 05:55 PM.

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    Yes it is. I would prefer if "they" would just come out and say it like it is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikenut View Post
    I would think the important consideration would be....

    Is there any law, or case law, that puts the force of law behind a sign as the sign itself being equal to notification?

    Would a sign all by itself be equal to the owner/owner's representative asking/requiring a person to leave the premises?
    That's the thing, there is nothing in Michigan law making a posted property a PFZ, and if it is generally open to the public, I would not consider it trespassing until actually asked to leave. I view no guns signs, and posted "rules" to just be policy, which is just a way of warning you that under that circumstance they would ask you to leave, but until the actually do ask it's not trespassing. An analogy would be talking, or using a cell phone in a movie theater, every theater in the country I'm sure prohibits talking, or using a cell phone during the movie, they even put the policy right up on the screen before the previews even start, but yet it never fails you always hear someone having a conversation, or a cell phone lighting up somewhere, are those people trespassing? No, but they may be asked to leave, and if they are, and refuse, then, and only then is it trespassing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yance View Post
    Also another good question would be if a sign is good enough for no weapons and can hold the same weight as the owner/representatives asking/requiring a person to leave...can places listed in MCL 750.234d post a sign acknowledging possession of firearms by non-CPL holders and it be recognized as permission to carry for non-CPL holders from that entity?

    And Stainless, isnt that always how it is, guilty until proven innocent..thats why youre arrested first and released later.
    For the purposes of that law I think it would.

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    You make a point, generall speaking, its always called a "no firearms policy" So how you put it, it would make sense that way. However I'm sure LE may be called prior to being asked to leave.

    And as for the permission sign, I guess it would all be in how it is worded.

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    Regular Member Bronson's Avatar
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    As far as I know MI currently has no case law on any type of no trespassing sign constituting sufficient notice of the owner's wishes with ignoring that sign automatically equaling trespassing. However, it has happened in other states and just because it hasn't happened here yet doesn't mean it can't.

    There are respected legal professionals on both sides of the debate. Some say a sign does = sufficient notice and some say it doesn't....until the courts decide it's all just speculation.

    The law doesn't really help because it just states that one of the ways you can commit trespass is to enter onto some one else's property after having been forbidden to do so by the owner, occupant or agent of either. The question is, does a sign = having been forbidden?

    750.552 Trespass upon lands or premises of another; violation; penalty.
    Sec. 552.

    (1) A person shall not do any of the following:

    (a) Enter the lands or premises of another without lawful authority after having been forbidden so to do by the owner or occupant or the agent of the owner or occupant.

    (b) Remain without lawful authority on the land or premises of another after being notified to depart by the owner or occupant or the agent of the owner or occupant.
    From what I've read about the cases where a sign has been viewed as giving sufficient notice it always seems to come down to the "reasonable man" argument. It doesn't matter one whit if YOU saw the sign but whether the court feels that a reasonable person SHOULD HAVE seen the sign.

    In one case in another state (the one I hope Venator has a link to) it was determined that a mall having its policy available in a pamphlet at the mall office was sufficient. It was the carriers responsibility to find out the policy and not the malls to post it. That's what I thought of when I heard about "willfull blindness." In that particular instance if a person chose to NOT find out the malls policy and then tried to claim "but I didn't see any signs," it wouldn't matter because they SHOULD HAVE found out.

    I could see the same argument being made for somebody who enters a mall proper through a store entrance that isn't posted like the main entrances. It doesn't matter that you didn't see the postings, you should have sought out the information.

    Just for the record I do NOT personally agree with that interpretation but I can see the argument being attempted. You know, throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

    Just my twisted thought patterns that don't necessarily have to do with current MI law.

    Bronson
    Last edited by Bronson; 11-17-2011 at 12:39 AM.
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    Anti-Saldana Freedom Fighter Venator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bronson View Post
    As far as I know MI currently has no case law on any type of no trespassing sign constituting sufficient notice of the owner's wishes with ignoring that sign automatically equaling trespassing. However, it has happened in other states and just because it hasn't happened here yet doesn't mean it can't.

    There are respected legal professionals on both sides of the debate. Some say a sign does = sufficient notice and some say it doesn't....until the courts decide it's all just speculation.

    The law doesn't really help because it just states that one of the ways you can commit trespass is to enter onto some one else's property after having been forbidden to do so by the owner, occupant or agent of either. The question is, does a sign = having been forbidden?



    From what I've read about the cases where a sign has been viewed as giving sufficient notice it always seems to come down to the "reasonable man" argument. It doesn't matter one whit if YOU saw the sign but whether the court feels that a reasonable person SHOULD HAVE seen the sign.

    In one case in another state (the one I hope Venator has a link to) it was determined that a mall having its policy available in a pamphlet at the mall office was sufficient. It was the carriers responsibility to find out the policy and not the malls to post it. That's what I thought of when I heard about "willfull blindness." In that particular instance if a person chose to NOT find out the malls policy and then tried to claim "but I didn't see any signs," it wouldn't matter because they SHOULD HAVE found out.

    I could see the same argument being made for somebody who enters a mall proper through a store entrance that isn't posted like the main entrances. It doesn't matter that you didn't see the postings, you should have sought out the information.

    Just for the record I do NOT personally agree with that interpretation but I can see the argument being attempted. You know, throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

    Just my twisted thought patterns that don't necessarily have to do with current MI law.

    Bronson
    Unfortunetly that was hearsay from Attorney Dulan in a conversation he had with me. So I don't have a link.
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    Not to sound anti-right to carry, but thats how I always looked at it. I'm the person carrying so its up to me to know the policies of the places I'm carrying. Its part of being a responsible gun owner to know where you cant take them. Now, I do have to disagree with something like it stating it in a pamphlet in a main office in a mall...how many people actually pick that up, you know.

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    If we are to be considered "responsible gun owners",as I'm sure we all desire that to be the case,it's our duty to know the laws pertaining to carrying.I have had the experience of having a judge tell me "ignorance of the law is no defense",which technicaly is true.Since the courts and the law works in the technical realm it's our responsibility to know the laws and our Rights.Knowledge is Power and using that knowledge rightly is Wisdom! Lets be Wise! CARRY ON!
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    Michigan Moderator DrTodd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bronson View Post
    As far as I know MI currently has no case law on any type of no trespassing sign constituting sufficient notice of the owner's wishes with ignoring that sign automatically equaling trespassing. However, it has happened in other states and just because it hasn't happened here yet doesn't mean it can't.

    There are respected legal professionals on both sides of the debate. Some say a sign does = sufficient notice and some say it doesn't....until the courts decide it's all just speculation.

    The law doesn't really help because it just states that one of the ways you can commit trespass is to enter onto some one else's property after having been forbidden to do so by the owner, occupant or agent of either. The question is, does a sign = having been forbidden?



    From what I've read about the cases where a sign has been viewed as giving sufficient notice it always seems to come down to the "reasonable man" argument. It doesn't matter one whit if YOU saw the sign but whether the court feels that a reasonable person SHOULD HAVE seen the sign.

    In one case in another state (the one I hope Venator has a link to) it was determined that a mall having its policy available in a pamphlet at the mall office was sufficient. It was the carriers responsibility to find out the policy and not the malls to post it. That's what I thought of when I heard about "willfull blindness." In that particular instance if a person chose to NOT find out the malls policy and then tried to claim "but I didn't see any signs," it wouldn't matter because they SHOULD HAVE found out.

    I could see the same argument being made for somebody who enters a mall proper through a store entrance that isn't posted like the main entrances. It doesn't matter that you didn't see the postings, you should have sought out the information.

    Just for the record I do NOT personally agree with that interpretation but I can see the argument being attempted. You know, throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

    Just my twisted thought patterns that don't necessarily have to do with current MI law.

    Bronson
    I posted this in another thread, but it fits here too:

    There is an opinion (unpublished) that actually states that:
    "Defendant was not told to depart from the premises, and inasmuch as the lot was open to the general public, the No Trespassing signs were inadequate to inform defendant that he was forbidden to enter the parking lot. Accordingly, the officers did not have probable cause to arrest defendant for trespassing" Whether this would apply to a "No Guns" sign in a public building, I really don't know.

    People v Clay, 1997
    http://coa.courts.mi.gov/DOCUMENTS/O...183101.OPN.PDF
    Last edited by DrTodd; 11-19-2011 at 04:46 PM.
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