Michigan Criminal Law: Assaultive Crimes; Domestic Assault / Domestic Violence

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Allegations involving acts of violence of varying degrees are prevalent in the criminal justice system. Domestic Violence shares the same elements of an Assault or Assault and Battery charge and the prosecutor must also prove that the parties were in a “domestic relationship.” MCL 750.81 (2).

The maximum penalties for Domestic Violence charges depend on whether a person has priors, the alleged facts, and other factors, and they range in terms of possible penalties for a conviction from 93 days up to felony charges depending on the alleged facts. See MCL 750.81 (2), et. al.

A “domestic relationship” is found if the alleged victim is the defendant’s “spouse or former spouse, an individual with whom he or she has or has had a dating relationship, an individual with whom he or she has had a child in common, or a resident or former resident of his or her household.” MCL 750.81 (2).

In addition to proving the existence of a domestic relationship, a prosecutor must also prove the elements of an assault or assault and battery.

As explained in the jury instruction:

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

(2) First, that the defendant [assaulted / assaulted and battered] 1 [name complainant] .

A battery is the forceful, violent, or offensive touching of a person or something closely connected with him or her.2 The touching must have been intended by the defendant, that is, not accidental, and it must have been against [name complainant] ’s will.

An assault is an attempt to commit a battery or an act that would cause a reasonable person to fear or apprehend an immediate battery. The defendant must have intended either to commit a battery or to make [name complainant] reasonably fear an immediate battery.3 [An assault cannot happen by accident.] At the time of an assault, the defendant must have had the ability to commit a battery, or must have appeared to have the ability, or must have thought [he / she] had the ability.

(3) Second, that at the time [name complainant] : [Select one or more of the following:]

(a) was the defendant’s spouse

(b) was the defendant’s former spouse

(c) had a child in common with the defendant

(d) was a resident or former resident of the same household as the defendant

(e) was a person with whom the defendant had or previously had a dating relationship. A “dating relationship” means frequent, intimate association primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional involvement. It does not include a casual relationship or an ordinary fraternization between two individuals in a business or social context.

M. Crim. JI. 17.2a.

People who have prior convictions for domestic violence may have their charges enhanced with tougher penalties if charged again (i.e., a person with one prior may be charged as a domestic violence second offense, MCL 750.81 (3)) and the charge may even escalate to a felony if they have two or more prior convictions. MCL 750.81 (4).

When there are allegations of aggravated injury without a weapon, the maximum possible penalties increase even further for even alleged first-time offenders. MCL 750.81a, et. al. Aggravated injury is defined as ” a physical injury that requires immediate medical treatment or that causes disfigurement, impairment of health, or impairment of a part of the body.” M. Crim. JI. 17.6.

However, there are some additional options for people with no assaultive priors in their respective criminal histories to help keep this charge off their record if they are interested in possible pleas. There is a diversionary program, MCL 769.4a, which may be available in certain situations. This program, if completed, would make defer conviction and seal the case from the general public record. MCL 769.4a (7).

Our experienced trial attorneys fight hard for our Michigan clients. We represent clients statewide. For a free initial consultation, feel free to contact us at (517) 507-5077.

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 Interference with an Electronic Communications Device, click here.
For information on Assault and Battery (Misdemeanor), click here.
For information on Assault by Strangulation, click here.

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.
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.