The crime of aggravated assault in Michigan is charged when a person assaults another person and cause serious injury. This is a serious charge that can result in substantial fines, probation and even jail time for the offender. Furthermore, a person convicted of aggravated assault may be required to pay restitution to the victim for the costs of medical treatment.
ELEMENTS OF AGGRAVATED ASSAULT
A person is guilty of aggravated assault, contrary to MCL 750.81a(1), if the prosecutor can prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt (Michigan Criminal Jury Instruction 17.6):
- First, that the defendant tried to physically injure another person.
- Second, that the defendant intended to injure another person or intended to make another person reasonably fear an immediate battery.
- Third, that the assault caused a serious or aggravated injury. A “serious or aggravated injury” is a “physical injury that requires immediate medical treatment or that causes disfigurement, impairment of health, or impairment of a part of the body.” People v Brown, 97 Mich App 606, 611; 296 NW2d 121 (1980).
Even in a case where the victim did not seek immediate medical attention, evidence is sufficient to prove a serious injury for purposes of aggravated assault where the victim suffered facial cuts, an eye injury, and a bruised neck. People v Norris, 236 Mich App 411, 415 n 3; 600 NW2d 658 (1999).
CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR AGGRAVATED ASSAULT
“[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.” MCL 750.81a(1).
For crimes that result in physical injury to a victim, the court can order the offender to pay restitution as follows:
- “Pay an amount equal to the reasonably determined cost of medical and related professional services and devices actually incurred and reasonably expected to be incurred relating to physical and psychological care.” MCL 780.766(4)(a).
- “Pay an amount equal to the reasonably determined cost of physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation actually incurred and reasonably expected to be incurred.” MCL 780.766(4)(b).
- “Reimburse the victim… for after-tax income loss suffered by the victim as a result of the crime.” MCL 780.766(4)(c).
- “Pay an amount equal to the reasonably determined cost of psychological and medical treatment for members of the victim’s family actually incurred and reasonably expected to be incurred as a result of the crime.” MCL 780.766(4)(d).
- “Pay an amount equal to the reasonably determined costs of homemaking and child care expenses actually incurred and reasonably expected to be incurred as a result of the crime or, if homemaking or child care is provided without compensation by a relative, friend, or any other person, an amount equal to the costs that would reasonably be incurred as a result of the crime for that homemaking and child care, based on the rates in the area for comparable services.” MCL 780.766(4)(e).
- “Pay an amount equal to income actually lost by the spouse, parent, sibling, child, or grandparent of the victim because the family member left his or her employment, temporarily or permanently, to care for the victim because of the injury.” MCL 780.766(4)(h).
DEFENSES TO CHARGES OF AGGRAVATED ASSAULT
Aggravated assault is one of the most serious misdemeanor charges in Michigan, but some defenses that can be asserted against this charge include, but are not limited to:
- No Serious or Aggravated Injury Inflicted: Aggravated assault requires that a physical injury is inflicting that EITHER requires immediate medical treatment OR that causes disfigurement, impairment of health, or impairment of a part of the body. Minor injuries such as small cuts or bruises will likely not qualify. In addition, the injury MUST be physical in nature. Aggravated assault cannot be maintain if the injuries alleged are mental, emotional or psychological injuries.
- Mistaken Defense or Alibi: The defendant may present evidence that he or she was in another location when the aggravated assault occurred and that he or she was falsely identified. Defense counsel must provide sufficient notice ahead of trial of the witnesses he or she intends to establish the alibi.
- Self-Defense or Defense of Others: Aggravated assault may be justified under circumstances where you were trying to defend yourself or others from the aggravated assault of another person by force. “An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses force other than deadly force may use force other than deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if he or she honestly and reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual.” MCL 780.972(2).
- Duress: Aggravated assault may be justified on the basis of duress if the defendant can present some evidence where the jury can conclude the following: “A) the threatening conduct was sufficient to create in the mind of a reasonable person the fear of death or serious bodily harm; B) the conduct in fact caused such fear of death or seriously bodily harm in the mind of the defendant; C) the fear or duress was operating upon the mind of the defendant at the time of the alleged act; and D) the defendant committed the act to avoid the threatened harm.” People v Lemons, 454 Mich 234, 247; 562 NW2d 447 (1997). Furthermore, the defendant must present some evidence that the threat was present and imminent, that the threat did not arise from the negligence or fault of the defendant, and that the defendant did not fail to use a reasonable opportunity to escape.
- Lack of Intent to Engage in Assaultive Behavior: Even when the defendant does not deny striking or injuring the victim, a conviction cannot occur if the force applied or injuries inflicted were accidental or unintentional. If the defendant tripped and fell against the victim under accidental circumstances resulting in broken bones, then no crime was committed. While the victim could have recourse in civil court to seek money damages for negligent or reckless behavior, it would not be enough evidence to convict for a crime in Michigan.
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT IS A TOUGH CHARGE, BUT A GOOD CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER CAN HELP YOU OBTAIN A FAVORABLE OUTCOME
No matter how serious the injury is, the prosecutor must still prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Skilled legal counsel in your corner can assert any and all available defenses at trial. Even if the evidence against you is strong, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate a plea bargain to a lesser offense or obtain a sentence agreement that keeps you out of jail. If you or a loved one are accused of any crime and need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.