Michigan Criminal Law: Assaultive Crimes; Assault by Strangulation
Allegations involving acts of violence of varying degrees are prevalent in the criminal justice system. Assault by strangulation shares the same elements of an Assault or Assault and Battery charge and the prosecutor must also prove that the party “assaults another person by strangulation or suffocation.” MCL 750.84 1 (b). The term “strangulation or suffocation” is defined as “intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person.” MCL 750.84 (2).
The maximum penalties for Assault by Strangulation charges depend on whether a person has priors, the alleged facts, and other factors; however the maximum possible penalty starts at ” imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both” and goes up from there. MCL 750.84 (1).
As the Model Jury Instruction explains, in order to prove this charge beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor must show the following:
(1) The defendant is charged with the crime of assault by strangulation or suffocation. To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
(2) First, that the defendant committed a battery on [name complainant] . A battery is a forceful, violent, or offensive touching of another person or something closely connected with that other person.
(3) Second, that the touching must have been intended by the defendant, that is, not accidental, and it must have been against [name complainant] ’s will. It does not matter whether the touching caused an injury.
(4) Third, that the battery was committed by strangulation or suffocation. Strangulation or suffocation means intentionally impeding normal circulation of the blood or breathing by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth.
M. Crim. JI. 17.35.
There are a few additional notes about this particular charge. First, a legislative amendment in 2014 significantly changed how this law is applied. The Michigan Legislature put an additional clarification in this charge which states “this section does not prohibit a person from being charged with, convicted of, or punished for any other violation of law arising out of the same conduct as the violation of this section.” MCL 750.84 (3). This language, combined with the definitions of “strangulation” or “suffocation,” essentially freed up prosecutors to add this count onto a significant percentage of alleged assault/battery scenarios involving an alleged victim’s neck or chest.
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Anyone charged, of course, is presumed innocent. The prosecutor would need to prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt if the matter proceeded to trial. Simply because a person is charged does not mean that ultimately, they will be convicted.
For information on Assault Causing Great Bodily Harm, click here.
For information on Assault With Intent to Commit Murder, click here.
For information on Felonious Assault, click here.
For information on Domestic Assault & Battery, click here.
For information on Interference with an Electronic Communications Device, click here.
For information on Assault and Battery (Misdemeanor), click here.
For information on probation violation hearings, click here.
For more information on MCL 769.4a, a law that set-up a diversionary program for first-time domestic violence offenders, click here.
If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, I encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Circumstances may vary significantly. If you need specific legal advice, please privately consult with a lawyer.
If you are charged with an offense and cannot afford to pay for your own defense, the court may appoint you an attorney payable at the public’s expense. You have a right to counsel.