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:
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.
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.