Assault and Aggravated Assault: What You Need to Know

One of the areas of criminal law that many people are unfamiliar with is where the line is drawn between simple assault and aggravated assault. This distinction is an important one to understand because whether one is charged with - and possibly convicted of - assault or aggravated assault could have very serious implications for sentencing and the legal process.

The Aggravated Assault statue in Michigan is contained in MCL 750.81a, which reads:

Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person who assaults an individual without a weapon and inflicts serious or aggravated injury upon that individual without intending to commit murder or to inflict great bodily harm less than murder is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both.

At first, this text has a very obvious meaning and implication. It is intended to distinguish between relatively minor assaults (more on those later) and more "serious" ones by increasing the penalty for the more serious assaults. However, like many aspects of the legal system, this area of law is less clear-cut than it might appear at first. Here at The Law Office of Brian J. Prain, we frequently have clients who find themselves quickly swept up in the whirlwind of the criminal justice system and are unsure of the best way to handle charges of simple assault, felony assault, domestic violence/domestic assault, and others just to name a few.

One of the big reasons for the confusion many people feel at the different types of assault they may be charged with is the fact that prosecutors often charge people with offenses that are far more severe than the offense (if any) that they actually committed by stretching the definition of the more serious form of assault to meet the criteria of the act that a defendant is alleged to have engaged in. For example, many people in Michigan find themselves facing aggravated assault charges for behavior that is far from inflicting a serious or aggravated injury because of a prosecutor's definition of a "serious or aggravated injury" being much more broad than common sense would dictate. Moreover, because of the increased amount of potential time spent in prison and higher fines, prosecutors act in this overzealous manor at the public's expense.

The main difference between assault and aggravated assault in Michigan law is the provision about "inflicts serious or aggravated injury". This is enough, however, to raise a sentence from not more than 93 days in jail to an entire year in jail!

Simple assault, under Michigan law, is:

a person who assaults or assaults and batters an individual, if no other punishment is prescribed by law

This definition is intentionally the broadest form of assault, as it is meant to encompass most basic assaults and disputes. However, as explained earlier, prosecutors often seek to win the most severe convictions they can, even at the expense of defendants.

This is where the decision to hire an attorney, and the right attorney, at that, becomes crucial. Years of your life and thousands of dollars in fines, court costs, and other expenses can be incurred as a result of a felony conviction, not to mention lifelong stigmatization and difficulty finding employment. This is where the Law Office of Brian J. Prain can make all the difference between for your future.

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