Assault in Michigan is an attempt to cause physical injury to another person – for instance, attempting to strike someone with a hand or object, and missing. Assault is also any intentional act or threat of action, if the assailant appears to have the ability to carry out the threat, that reasonably causes a person to believe that he is about to be struck or injured.
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.81.)
Battery is actual offensive physical contact, such as punching another person or hitting someone with an object.
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.81.)
Michigan law categorizes these crimes as assault and "assault and battery" because battery is considered the completion of a violent process, a threat or attempt to injure – assault – which ends in contact – a battery.
Assault is a felony crime when committed with the intent to murder or cause great bodily harm or when committed with the intent to commit another felony, such as kidnapping or robbery. Assault or battery, when committed against certain victims, such as a human services agency employee, police officer, or a pregnant woman, is also a felony. Additionally, assault or battery is a felony when committed with a dangerous weapon, including a firearm. To learn more, see Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Michigan.
For more information on misdemeanor assault and battery, see Simple Assault and Battery in Michigan. To learn more about assault and domestic violence, see Michigan Domestic Violence Laws.
In Michigan, an assault committed with the intent to murder the victim is a felony punishable by up to life in prison. If the offender intends to commit great bodily harm (for example, repeatedly kicking or punching a victim) or strangulation but not murder, the offense is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § § 750.83, 750.84.)
Assault with intent to maim is an assault committed with the intent to disfigure the person or to cut off or disable "a limb, organ or member." This crime specifically includes intending or trying to cut off a nose or an ear or put out an eye. Assault with intent to maim is a felony and is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a fine up to $5,000, or both.
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.86.)
If an assailant commits an assault with the intent of committing some other felony such as burglary, rape or kidnapping, he is guilty of a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison, a fine up to $5,000, or both.
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.87.)
An assault committed with the intent of robbing or stealing from the victim – a mugging, for instance – when the assailant is unarmed, is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. If the assailant is armed with a dangerous weapon (for example, a loaded gun or brass knuckles), then the assault is punishable by up to life in prison.
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § § 750.88, 750.89.)
Assault against certain victims results in specific penalties.
If the victim of an assault or assault and battery is a pregnant woman and the offender intends to cause a miscarriage or stillbirth, the offender can be sentenced to life in prison. The offender can also be sentenced to life in prison if he willfully disregards the likelihood that his actions could cause a miscarriage or stillbirth, regardless of his intentions.
Michigan punishes assaults that harm or injure an embryo or fetus, and the punishment is based on the severity of the injury. Penalties include up to 15 years in prison, a fine up to $7,500, or both.
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § § 750.90a, 750.90b.)
If the victim of an assault or battery is a human services employee engaged in the performance of his duties, the crime is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both. If the assault or battery results in serious impairment of a bodily function, the possible sentence is up to five years in prison, a fine between $1,000 and $5,000, or both. Impairment of a bodily function includes loss of a limb or body part, brain damage or bleeding in the brain, a coma for more than three days, serious visible disfigurement, a serious bone fracture, or loss of an organ.
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § § 750.81c, 257.58c.)
If the victim of an assault or battery is a police officer, emergency medical personnel, firefighter, or search and rescue personnel, and the assault occurs while the victim is performing his duties and the offender knows or should know of the victim's employment status, the crime is a felony subject to the following penalties:
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.81d.)
If the victim of an assault or battery is a public utility employee engaged in the performance of his duties and the crime results in bodily injury, the offender can be sentenced to up to two years in prison, a $2,000 fine, or both. If the assault or battery results in serious impairment of bodily function, the offender can be sentenced to up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.81e.)
A judge may allow an offender to serve a portion or all of a prison sentence on probation. 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.
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. Comp. Laws Ann. § 769.1a.)
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 lighter sentence, such as probation, in exchange for a plea of guilty to the charge.
A felony conviction will seriously affect your life. A convicted felon loses the right to vote, hold public office, serve as a juror, and carry or own firearms. In certain circumstances, a felony conviction also can result in loss of a professional license. If a felon is convicted later of another crime, his felony record can subject him to more serious charge and a harsher sentence in the new case. A felony 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.