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What’s the Difference Between Aggravated Assault and Felonious Assault in Michigan?

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2018 | Assault, Domestic Violence, Firm News, Legal Blog

Felonious assault and aggravated assault may sound like similar crimes, but they entail very different criminal penalties. As its name suggests, felonious assault is a felony, whereas aggravated assault is considered a serious misdemeanor. Felonies are more serious than misdemeanors because they involve higher fines, longer periods of incarceration, and more collateral consequences such as limits on your second amendment right to own firearms.

There is another, more subtle difference between the two crimes. You may be charged with felonious assault without actually injuring the victim, whereas aggravated assault applies only if you seriously injure the victim. Felony assault in Michigan is a more serious form of simple assault, which consists in threatening another person with harm while being in a position to immediately follow through with your threat. Aggravated assault, on the other hand, requires you to make physical contact with another person in a way that causes injury. In other words, Michigan aggravated assault is a form of battery.

If you are being charged with a type of assault, you need an assault attorney at your side to fight for you and your rights. Call an Lansing assault lawyer at DeBruin Law today at (517) 324-4303 to set up a consultation.

When Can I Be Charged With Felonious Assault?

Michigan Penal Code section 750.82 defines felonious assault as assaulting another person with a “gun, revolver, pistol, knife, iron bar, club, brass knuckles, or other dangerous weapon.” Moreover, felonious assault is using a dangerous weapon to put another person in fear of immediate bodily harm. Thus, brandishing a pistol during a heated argument outside of a bar would generally be considered felonious assault under Michigan law, especially if there is evidence that you made threatening statements.

Felonious assault applies to a narrow range of conduct. This is because section 750.82 does not apply to an assault committed with the intent to commit murder or to inflict bodily harm. So, felonious assault occurs when you put another person in fear of harm by using a dangerous weapon, but there is no evidence suggesting that you actually intended to seriously harm or kill that person.

In reference to the earlier example, if you point the gun at the person outside the bar, pull the trigger, and the gun misfires or you miss your target, felonious assault would probably not apply. Since there is evidence that you actually tried to kill or injure the other person by pulling the trigger, you may face charges of attempted murder instead.

If convicted of felonious assault, you may be sentenced to up to four years in state prison along with a possible fine of up to $2,000. If you commit the offense in a weapon free school zone, you may also have to perform 150 hours of community service and pay fines of up to $6,000.

Felonious assault is not the only assault charge that is treated as a felony. Assaulting a police officer, firefighter, and other state employees or agents may result in a felony conviction with similar penalties.

When Do Aggravated Assault Charges Apply?

Considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and possible fines reaching $1,000, aggravated assault appears in section 750.81a(1) of the Michigan Penal Code. Although the offense is called “assault,” it is actually a form of battery. A battery is a completed assault: you’ve threatened the victim with harm and then acted on the threat by making physical contact. Aggravated assault applies when that physical contact causes a “serious or aggravated injury” to the victim, and there is no evidence that you used a weapon, intended to commit a murder, or inflict serious injury.

As with felonious assault, aggravated assault applies to a narrow range of situations. Here, the evidence must show that you seriously hurt the victim but that you didn’t intend to do so. For example, instead of brandishing a gun, you simply push the victim, which already makes you guilty of simple assault. The assault becomes aggravated if the victim loses balance and hits their head on the curb, suffering a concussion as a result.

How a Lansing Assault Lawyer Can Help

Whether you are facing felonious or aggravated assault charges, one thing remains the same: your need for an experienced assault attorney. Criminal trials are fast moving, high stakes proceedings whose outcomes can have a deep impact on your life. For this reason, you should do your research and retain the services of a Lansing criminal defense lawyer whom you believe is up to the task.

At DeBruin Law, we stand ready to defend your rights at every step of the criminal justice process. To learn how we might defend your specific case, contact us today at (517) 324-4303.

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