Lesser Included Misdemeanor Jury Instruction

In People v. Stephens, 416 Mich 252; 330 NW2d 675 (1982), the Supreme Court set forth five conditions for determining whether a lesser included misdemeanor jury instruction should be given. First, a party must make a proper request. People v. Steele, 429 Mich 13, 19; 412 NW2d 206 (1987); Stephens, supra at 261-262. Second, an appropriate relationship must exist between the charged offense and the requested misdemeanor, to the extent that both the greater and lesser offenses: (1) relate to the protection of the same interests, and; (2) are related in an evidentiary manner so that proof of the misdemeanor is necessarily presented as part of the proof of the greater charged offense. Steele, supra; Stephens, supra at 262. Third, the misdemeanor must be supported by a rational view of the evidence presented at trial. Proof of the elements differentiating the greater offense and requested misdemeanor must be in dispute so that the jury rationally could find the defendant innocent of the greater offense but guilty of the lesser offense. Steele, supra at 20-21; Stephens, supra at 262-264. Fourth, if the prosecutor requests the instruction, the defendant must have adequate notice of it as a charge against which he may have to defend. Steele, supra at 21; Stephens, supra at 264. The fifth condition requires that the instruction not cause undue confusion or injustice. Steele, supra at 21-22; Stephens, supra at 264-265. Even when these conditions are met, a trial court retains substantial discretion to approve or deny a request. Steele, supra at 22.; Stephens, supra.