Assault in Michigan is an attempt to cause physical injury to another person – for instance, attempting to strike someone with a hand or object. Assault also is any intentional unlawful act or threat of action, such as raising a fist or brandishing a weapon. If the offender appears to have the ability to carry out the threat and the action reasonably causes a person to feel afraid of impending violence, the act is an assault. (Mich. Stat. Ann. §750.81.)
Battery in Michigan is the intentional infliction of violence or force against another person, such as punching another person or hitting someone with an object. (Mich. Stat. Ann. §750.81.)
Michigan law categorizes these crimes as assault and “assault and battery” because the law views battery as the completion of a violent process, a threat or attempt to injure – assault – that ends in contact – a battery.
Assault or battery committed without a dangerous weapon is a misdemeanor, except in the case of domestic violence and certain victims, such as a police officer or emergency medical personnel. Assault and battery that results in serious injury is aggravated assault and battery and is punishable by more jail time, but still is a misdemeanor.
Penalties for Assault or Assault and Battery in Michigan
A person convicted of a simple assault or of assault and battery faces the following possible penalties:
- up to 93 days in jail or a fine up to $500 or both
- probation up to 93 days, and
A person convicted of aggravated assault and battery faces the following possible penalties:
- up to one year in jail or a fine up to $1,000 or both
- probation up to two years, and
Penalties for Domestic Violence Assault or Assault and Battery in Michigan
Domestic violence assault or assault and battery is a crime committed against a spouse, former spouse, someone the offender is dating or has dated, someone with whom the offender has a child, or someone with whom the offender resides or has resided.
A person convicted of domestic violence assault or assault and battery faces the following possible penalties:
- for a first conviction, up to 93 days in jail or a fine up to $500, or both, or probation for up to two years, and restitution, or
- for a second conviction, up to one year in jail or a fine up to $1000, or both, or probation for up to two years, and restitution.
If a defendant has two or more prior convictions for domestic assault or assault and battery, the new offense will be classified as a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison and a $2,500 fine or both; or by probation up to five years; and restitution.
Aggravated domestic assault and battery
A person convicted of aggravated domestic assault and battery faces the following possible penalties: for a first conviction (no prior domestic assault or assault and battery convictions of any kind), up to one year in jail or a fine up to $500, or both; or probation for up to two years; and restitution.
If the defendant has a prior conviction for domestic assault or assault and battery of any kind, the charge will be classified as a felony and the court can sentence the defendant to up to two years in prison or a fine up to $2,500, or both; or probation for up to five years; and restitution.
Offenses Against Certain Victims
Crimes committed against certain victims have been singled out for specific punishment in Michigan.
Public utility workers. If someone assault or assaults and batters a public utility worker (without causing any significant bodily injury), the offender is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine up to $1,000, or both; or probation for up to two years; and restitution. (Mich. Stat. Ann. §750.81c.)
Human services workers (for example, employees of child protective services or state services for the elderly). If someone threatens to physically injure a human services worker – even if the threat is only a verbal threat to do harm in the future – because of the person’s employment status, the offender is guilty of a misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine up to $1,000, or both; or probation for up to one year; and restitution.
Felony situations. Simple assault or simple assault and battery against certain other victims is classified as a felony, even if no significant injury occurs, and is punishable by up to two years in prison. Those victims include, but are not limited to, human services workers, police officers, emergency medical personnel such as paramedics and ambulance drivers, and search and rescue workers if the assailant had reason to know the victim was engaged in performing his duties. (Mich. Stat. Ann. §§750.81c, 81d.)
Conditional Sentence, Deferred Sentence, and Probation
Michigan judges can impose a conditional sentence of only a fine and restitution, and possibly probation, for simple assault or assault and battery. If the defendant defaults on payment of the fine or violates conditions of probation, the court can then impose the jail time allowed under the statute for the crime. (Mich. Stat. Ann. §769.3.)
An assault or assault and battery offender in Michigan also can receive a deferred sentence. The court defers or postpones sentencing for a period of time during which the defendant must serve probation or complete drug treatment court. If the defendant successfully completes probation or drug court, the charges will be dismissed at the end of the deferred sentence period and the defendant will have no conviction on his record. The deferral option also is available to domestic violence offenders with no prior assault or assault and battery convictions. (Mich. Stat. Ann. §769.4a.)
Finally, judges can sentence an offender to probation instead of jail time. A person on probation must meet regularly with a probation officer and comply with conditions set by the court, such as no further arrests or convictions, attending counseling or performing community service. If a person violates a condition of probation, he can be arrested, resentenced and required to serve the maximum sentence period in jail, with no credit for the time he served on probation. Unlike the deferred sentence option described just above, the defendant who successfully completes probation will not receive a dismissal.
Someone convicted of assault or battery in Michigan will be required to pay restitution, which means reimbursing the victim for any expenses resulting from the crime, such as the cost of medical treatment or counseling. (Mich. Stat. Ann. §769.1a.)
Pleas and Pre-Trial Options
If you are facing a charge of assault or battery in Michigan, an attorney can investigate the case and determine if you were wrongfully charged or there are other reasons why the case should be dismissed before trial. If the charges are not dismissed, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor on your behalf, or prepare a defense and represent you at trial if you believe you have been wrongly accused or if there are no reasonable plea options. Prosecutors often will negotiate and agree to let the defendant plead guilty to a different, less serious crime. Or, the prosecutor may agree to a deferred sentence or a lighter sentence, such as probation, in exchange for a plea of guilty to the charge.
The Value of Good Representation
A criminal conviction – whether for a misdemeanor or a felony – becomes part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A convicted felon loses the right to vote, hold public office, serve as a juror (for seven years) and carry or own firearms. In certain circumstances, a felony conviction also can result in loss of a professional license. A criminal record—even a misdemeanor conviction, and particularly a conviction for a violent crime—can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment.
Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.