Michigan Criminal Law: Assaultive Crimes; Interference with an Electronic Communications Devices

Allegations involving acts of violence of varying degrees are prevalent in the criminal justice system. However, in addition to assault charges, prosecutors may often seek to add on additional, related counts depending on the alleged facts.

One count which is frequently tacked on is Interference with an Electronic Communications Device, MCL 750.540, if the allegations involve attempts by the alleged victim to use a phone or communication device. Common scenarios include situations when an alleged victim has the phone knocked out of their hand or if the alleged defendant destroys a phone during the alleged confrontation when the alleged victim is attempting to contact authorities.

The maximum penalties for Interference with an Electronic Communications Device depend on whether a person has priors, the alleged facts, and other factors; however, it is a felony charge, punishable by up to two years in prison if convicted, assuming no habituals are added on. See MCL 750.540 (5)(a).

As the Model Jury Instruction explains, a prosecutor must prove the following:

The defendant is charged with the crime of interfering with an electronic communication. To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) First, that the defendant prevented, obstructed, or delayed, by any means, the sending of an authorized communication through [a telephone line or any electronic medium of communication / the Internet / a computer, a computer program, a computer system, or a computer network / any electronic medium of communication] . [It does not matter whether the communication was actually sent or received.]

(2) Second, that the defendant did this willfully and maliciously. This means that the defendant did the act on purpose and with the intent to prevent, obstruct, or delay the communication.

M. Crim. JI. 15.1

It is important to note that this charge applies to “any electronic medium.” M. Crim. JI. 15.1. Further, the prosecutor does not need to prove “whether the communication was actually sent or received.” M. Crim. JI. 15.1.

Given the quickly changing methods of electronic communication through smart-phones and other means, along with their increasing popularity, affordability, and accessibility; this charge, in the opinion of this author, will only continue to grow in popularity among prosecutors.

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 Domestic Assault & Battery, 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.