Criminal Law


Grand Rapids Assault Attorneys

Assault and Battery—most people think of those crimes as being one and the same. Actually, they are two separate crimes. Prosecutors often combine the charges against a person, listing “assault and battery” together, which is why it is easy to confuse the two.

A simple definition is that an assault is a threat or an attempt to injure someone with the ability to actually do so. A battery, on the other hand, is unwanted, usually violent contact with someone (See our article on Battery for more). Because the first of these, the assault, may often lead to the second, the battery, a person may be charged with both at the same time for the same incident.

A person commits an assault when they try to harm another person by using a threat of violence. Making a verbal threat, raising a fist, or brandishing an object or a weapon constitute an assault if the victim reasonably believes that the person intends to injure them. Note that in an “assault,” the victim is not actually hit or injured; the attacker intends to hurt the victim but does not make contact. The threat must appear real, and the victim must be afraid of being hurt or injured.

Assault, while statutory in penalty, is a common-law crime which has the following technical definition: An assault is any intentional, unlawful threat or offer to do bodily injury to another by force, under circumstances that create a well-founded fear of imminent peril, coupled with the apparent present ability to carry out the act if not prevented. See M Civ JI 115.01; see also Tinkler v Richter, 295 Mich 396; 295 NW 201 (1940).

Michigan Assault Laws are contained in MCL 750.81, et seq. The law lists details for various assault situations and victims, along with the legal consequences for each. Most assaults are misdemeanors, with punishments of fines and/or jail time of less than a year. If the assault is a repeat offense, it may be charged as a felony. Felonies carry longer jail sentences and larger fines.

The charges and punishments vary depending on several factors, including what law enforcement perceives is the attacker’s intent and if there was an actual battery on top of the assault. If the officer believes that the perpetrator intended to threaten (assault) another individual, the officer will next determine the type of intent, because different levels of intent are charged differently, and whether there was battery too. The charges and punishments will alto depend on the victim of the assault. Examples of types of assault include:

  • Simple Assault: this is an assault where no dangerous weapon is involved. This will be charged as a misdemeanor.
  • Aggravated Assault and Battery: this is an assault where the victim is seriously injured in the attack. This will also normally be charged as a misdemeanor, with stiffer penalties than a simple assault.
  • Domestic Assault: this is an assault against a spouse, a former spouse, a person you are dating or have dated, someone who lives with you in your residence, or is the parent of your child. A first or second offense will be charged as a misdemeanor, with stiff penalties; a third or repeated offense will be charged as a felony, with even more serious penalties including much longer jail time. As above, an aggravated assault and battery will result in harsher sentencing.
  • Felony Assault and Battery: this is where the assault and a battery involves using a dangerous weapon. There are several levels to this charge, depending on the circumstances.
  • Assault or assault and battery (MCL 750.81)
  • Assault with infliction of serious bodily harm (MCL 750.81a)
  • Threats or assault against employee of family independence agency (MCL 750.81.c)
  • Assaulting, battering, resisting, obstructing, opposing person performing duty (MCL 750.81d)
  • Assault or battery of employee or contractor of public utility (MCL 750.81e)
  • Felonious assault—this is an assault involving a “dangerous weapon”, which could include anything from a gun or knife to anything that could potentially be used to harm someone, such as a bottle or even a car (MCL 750.82)
  • Assault with intent to commit murder (MCL 750.83)
  • Assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and assault by strangulation or suffocation (MCL 750.84)
  • Torture (MCL 750.84)
  • Assault with intent to maim (MCL 750.86)
  • Assault with intent to commit felony not otherwise punished (MCL 750.87)
  • Unarmed assault with intent to rob and steal (MCL 750.88)
  • Armed assault with intent to rob and steal (MCL 750.89)
  • Assault against a pregnant woman and assault that results in miscarriage or injury to a fetus (MCL 750.90a)

If you are charged with committing an assault, keep in mind that a criminal conviction may have serious consequences beyond fines and/or jail time. A criminal record may affect your ability to get a job, a loan, or find a place to rent. A conviction may also prevent or hinder a professional license in the state of Michigan. Contact Van Den Heuvel Law Office right away to help you protect your rights.

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To talk with our attorney about your legal concerns, contact the Van Den Heuvel Law Office by calling 616-698-0000. You may also complete our online contact form. After-hours consultations are available by appointment. We are also available on Skype by appointment.

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