HOPE, Arkansas–Felony charges have been filed in Hempstead County against a man who allegedly threatened family members with a gun during a dispute over a Christmas tree last month.
Michael Dion Ballance, 61, allegedly began arguing with a female family member on Dec. 3 about where the Christmas tree should go at a house in the 800 block of E. 6th Street in Hope, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Other family members reportedly intervened in the argument and prevented Ballance from coming back inside after he walked out and retrieved a stick. Ballance allegedly walked down the street to a house where a friend lived and came back with a .38 caliber pistol which he then pointed at family members.
Ballance was arrested by police at the scene.
Prosecutors in Hempstead County have charged Ballance with possession of a firearm by certain persons because he has prior felony convictions which make it illegal for him to have a gun. He has also been charged with aggravated assault on a family or household member for allegedly pointing the firearm at his relatives.
Court records indicate that Ballance is being charged as an habitual offender with four or more previous felony convictions. If found guilty of the weapons charge with the habitual offender enhancement, Ballance faces five to 40 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000. If convicted of aggravated assault on a family member with the habitual offender enhancement, Ballance faces up to 15 years in an Arkansas prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Ballance is currently free on a $1,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in Hempstead County circuit court next month.