People often throw around the terms assault and battery without fully understanding what these mean. What exactly is an assault? What about an aggravated assault? Beyond the definitions of these crimes, people also do not know the statutory consequences of committing them, such as when an assault offense is a misdemeanor or felony and what each level of an assault can lead to in terms of prison time, fines, and probation. Under Michigan law, different circumstances will result in charges of assault, aggravated assault, and felonious assault.
Understanding Assault in Michigan
In Michigan, the crime of an assault occurs when an individual attempts to commit a battery or performs an act that would cause a reasonable person to fear imminent battery. Prosecutors must prove the individual intended to commit the battery, acted toward that intention, and they had the ability, appeared to have the ability, or thought they had the ability to commit the battery. There does not have to be any contact between the individual and intended victim to prove assault.
Of course, when looking at the crime of assault, people must also understand how the law defines battery. Michigan law states a battery is a forceful, violent, or offensive touching of a person or something closely connected with the person of another. Battery requires there to be contact between the individual and intended victim. People usually hear of the crimes assault and battery together because there is often both the attempt to do harm and physical contact between the perpetrator and victim.
The Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault is a more serious crime compared to assault and battery because it results in a serious injury. According to Michigan Section 750.81a and model jury instructions M Crim JI 17.6, for prosecutors to prove aggravated assault, they must show:
- The individual tried to physically injure another person,
- Intended to hurt or cause reasonable fear of an immediate injury, and
- The assault caused a serious or aggravated injury, which is one that needs immediate medical attention, could cause a disfigurement, or result in an impairment of health or the body.
It is important to note a weapon is not necessary to be charged with aggravated assault. However, if a weapon was present, prosecutors can use this fact to prove intent for an aggravated assault or charge the individual with a harsher offense.
Assault With a Dangerous Weapon
When a dangerous weapon is used during an assault, an individual will face charges for felonious assault. Section 750.82 and M Crim JI 17.9 defines this crime and the elements prosecutors must prove:
- The individual attempted to commit a battery or performed an action that would lead a reasonable person to fear or apprehend an immediate battery,
- Intended to hurt or to make a person reasonably fear an immediate injury,
- Had the ability, appeared to have the ability, or thought he or she had the ability, and
- Committed the assault with a dangerous weapon.
What is a Dangerous Weapon?
Not every object will count as a dangerous weapon, though Michigan’s law is broad on this topic. A dangerous weapon is any object that is used in a way that is likely to cause serious physical injury or death. Certain objects are clearly dangerous weapons, such as firearms, knives, iron bars, clubs, brass knuckles, and explosives. However, other everyday and household items can be used as dangerous weapons, including baseball bats and cast iron skillets. This is because the way an object is used or intended to be used in an assault determines whether or not it is a dangerous weapon, not the specific design and ordinary purpose of the object.
Facing an Assault Charge When Trained in Martial Arts or Combat
People who are well-trained in martial arts or in combat through advanced military service are often worried that their own hands will be considered dangerous weapons. They may have even encountered the myth that they need to register their hands as dangerous weapons like a gun. This argument has been occasionally used by prosecutors across the country. However, in Michigan, there is little case law to support this notion.
However, that does not mean training will be meaningless to an individual’s charges or trial. If an individual with martial arts, mixed martial arts, boxing, or combat training is involved in an altercation, prosecutors will likely use this to show intent to cause serious injury.
A Lansing Aggravated Assault Attorney is Available to Help
Individuals who have been charged with aggravated or felonious assault should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer from DeBruin Law. While aggravated assault is charged as a misdemeanor, if a dangerous weapon was used in the assault and battery, then the individual will be looking at felony charges. For those facing felony charges, the attorneys of DeBruin Law will fight to have the charges dropped or reduced. If the case goes to trial, then we will present the strongest defense strategies possible under the law.