Written by attorney Joshua Duane Jones

A General Overview Of Assaultive Crimes In The State Of Michigan

Assaultive crimes vary substantially here in the State of Michigan, meaning there are multiple classes or categories of assaultive crimes. The basic definition of an assaultive crime begins with an assault. An assault is simply the unlawful and intentional threat of bodily harm to another attached with the ability to carry out the act. Moreover, the victim needs to recognize the threat of his or her “attacker."

The more common assaultive crime attaches to it another element or piece to the definition of assault, which is known as battery. Battery is a willful and intentional contact (or actual contact made) with the victim, which is made against the victim’s freewill. Therefore, an assault is an attempted assault and battery (or battery).

Here in Michigan, either crime carries, if convicted, the same punishment, which includes a misdemeanor on the defendant’s criminal record, a maximum 93-days in jail, and/or a $500.00 fine, plus court costs, probation, and other possible mandatory fees, requirements, mandates [Probation is always possible whenever a defendant pleas or is convicted of a crime]. If an individual has a prior conviction of assault, assault and battery and/or domestic violence on his or her record then the defendant could face up to 1-year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.00.

The trend continues for those with 2 or more of the assaultive crimes just mentioned and will attach a 2-year felony, if convicted, and/o a $2,500.00 fine. In these situations where subsequent (more than one) assault convictions come into play, it is imperative to recognize the important and impact that sentence enhancers can have on an individual and his or her case.

The term domestic violence, as mentioned above, falls under the statutory definition of a “dating relationship." If the individual committing an assault or assault and battery on his or her spouse or former spouse, an individual with whom he or she has or has had a dating relationship, an individual with whom he or she has had a child in common, or a resident or former resident of the same household then he or she is in a “dating relationship." See MCL § 750.81a(3). If convicted an individual faces a 1-year misdemeanor and/o $1,000.00 fine. Those convicted of one or more assaults (including assault and battery and domestic violence) will face a 2-year felony with a possible $2,500.00 fine.

There is also a diversion program for first-time offenders convicted of or who plea guilty to a domestic violence charge. This individual can receive an automatic expungement of the charge upon successful completion of probation and its terms. Moreover, in order to qualify for the diversion program the individual must not have been convicted of an assaultive crime.

Also falling under the assaultive crime umbrella is obstructing, resisting, and assaulting or battering a police officer (or a person performing his or her lawful duty). This crime is charged as a 2-year felony with a possible $2,000.00 fine attached, if convicted. Also seen in practice is the attempted obstructing and resisting charge, which carries with it a possible 1-year jail sentence. Even though this charge is more of a compliance crime, meaning comply with police officials, it is still categorized and charged as an assaultive crime.

It is never advisable to resist, pull, disobey, argue, fight, or otherwise fail to comply with lawful command, or the police officer is otherwise attempting to put an individual in handcuffs and arrest him or her. Resisting and obstructing crimes come when there is police involvement; therefore, whenever there is police involvement compliance with their demands is critical, but so is remaining silent. This does not mean a conversation between the individual and police must or must not occur nor does it mean that officers should be allowed into an individual’s home or car without having probable cause or a warrant.

More specifically put, if a crime has been committed and an individual does not wish to speak, then he or she does not have to; if the police then arrest him or her or want to arrest him or her, then he or she should allow for the arrest, remain silent, and call an attorney; and finally, whenever there is a possibility or there is an actual moment where the individual is about to or could make an incriminating statement he or she should remain silent and ask that counsel be present. If an individual is unsure concerning what is and what is not incriminating, simply invoke the right to remain silent and ask for counsel to be present.

The State of Michigan also has statutory enhancements for assaultive crimes involving certain circumstances, locations, or what have you. Felonious assault involves the use of dangerous weapons including, but not limited to, a gun, brass knuckles, revolver, pistol, knife, iron bar, and/or club. A person convicted of this crime cannot have intended to murder or inflict great bodily harm on an individual whether or not he or she used a dangerous weapon. If there was this kind of intent present then the defendant would be charged or convicted of assault with the intent to murder or do great bodily harm. See below.

The punishment for felonious assault involves a 4-year felony and a possible $2,000.00 fine. If a felonious assault is committed within a weapon free school zone then there is a scenario of things that can happen occur at sentencing. A felony is placed on the individual’s criminal record, and he or she could get up to 4-years in prison,, serve not more than 150 hours, and/or a a fine of $6,000.00.

An individual convicted of assault with the intent to murder will receive a felony on his or her criminal record. Moreover he or she can possibly be sentenced to any term of year in jail, depending on his or her sentencing guideline’s score. This is a good place to speak briefly on sentencing guidelines and the State of Michigan. When an individual, in Michigan, is convicted or pleads to a felony he or she will have his or her conviction(s) scored pursuant to Michigan’s Sentencing Guideline Manual (or Statutory Code).

An individual’s sentencing score is based upon two variables that are broken down into multiple categories (or points) [which we will leave for another day and another time]. The two main variables are the defendant’s criminal history--Prior record Variable--(PRV) and the factual basis--Offense Variable (OV). These two will be cross-referenced on the appropriate sentencing grid, which will then provide you with the applicable sentence range for a defendant. It is worth noting that the process for properly scoring a defendant’s guidelines score involved many more steps, and you should consult the information listed within any manual for further questions or another attorney who specializing in sentencing guidelines and guideline related cases. Click here for Michigan’s 2012 Online Sentencing Guidelines Manual.

Moreover, Michigan also recognizes an assault with the intent to do great bodily harm in its own section, and anyone convicted can receive up to 10-years in jail and/or a fine of $5,000.00 fine. Other assault crimes will include, but are not limited to Torture, Assault with intent to maim, Assault with intent to commit a felony (within burglary or other felony otherwise not indicated in act), assault with intent to rob and steal (armed or unarmed), sexual intercourse under pretext of medical treatment, enhancements for assaults against women who are pregnant, and those circumstances involving government employees. Each of the crimes just listed has statutory section and language, which lists the possible or mandatorily required punishment for each given crime. It is imperative to look carefully at the language of the statute before proceeding with any assault case.

The entire Assault section of the Michigan Criminal Penal Code can be found here.

For those individuals older than 17 but younger than 21, they are able to qualify for a diversion program called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, but only for some of the crimes discussed above and listed within the criminal code. In order to better understand whether an individual would or does qualify for HYTA, research and possible advise should be sought.

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