Violent Crimes in Michigan
Understanding Charges for Violent Crimes
Violent crimes in the state of Michigan include domestic violence, assault and battery, aggravated assault, robbery, carjacking, and murder. If you are under investigation for a violent crime in Michigan, it is essential to secure an experienced lawyer for pre-file representation. If you have been arrested on a violent crime charge, a criminal defense attorney will represent you throughout the entire judicial process and vigorously defend you in a Michigan court of law. If you have already been convicted, it is your right to consult an attorney to discuss post-conviction options and appeal services to work toward expunging your record or altering your sentence.
It is not uncommon for individuals under investigation for a violent crime to be exposed to the tactics of aggressive police officers and skillful prosecutors. A lawyer can speak on your behalf whether you have been questioned about domestic violence, assault, or other violent crime charges. Having legal representation means you will not mistakenly incriminate yourself in an investigation. Do not take any chances with your freedom. Criminal punishments for violent crimes are severe – reach out to a qualified criminal defense attorney no matter what charges you face.
Domestic Violence – DV
A person commits the violent crime of domestic assault by assaulting or battering someone from any of the following relationships:
- A current or former spouse
- A relative
- The person he or she is, or was, dating
- An individual with whom he or she shares a child
- A current or former resident of the person’s household.
Domestic assault charges – which include domestic abuse, spousal battery, or stalking – often come with harsher penalties than assaults. Both domestic assault and domestic assault and battery are classified as misdemeanors in Michigan and are punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a fine of $500, if the person has no prior domestic violence convictions. If there is no weapon or intent to murder, but the domestic violence crime does cause a serious injury, the defendant faces up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Under Michigan law, law enforcement officers are authorized to make warrantless arrests in domestic violence cases even if the crime did not take place in the officer’s presence, if the officer has reasonable cause to suspect that a person has committed a domestic assault, and if the officer has reason to believe that a personal protection order has been violated.
The Michigan Domestic Violence Deferral MCL 769.4a
Unfortunately, domestic violence is a common violent crime in Michigan. However, the Michigan Domestic Violence Deferral MCL 769.4a enables a person who has no criminal history of assault, but who is currently charged with domestic violence or aggravated domestic violence, the opportunity to keep their record clean. MCL 769.4a is meant to be a rehabilitative measure of protection.
In order to qualify for a domestic violence deferral, first offenders do not have to plead guilty. You can exercise your right to a fair trial without losing eligibility. It is necessary for the prosecutor to consult with the victim if 769.4a is up for consideration but the law does not explicitly state that the victim must agree with a deferral for it to be received. In many cases, the prosecutor will refuse to agree to the deferral if their client is opposed to it, but it is not unheard of for the prosecutor to change his or her mind. The benefit of having qualified and experienced legal defense counsel on your side can be all the difference between an accepted or denied request for deferral.
The deferral does not automatically mean that the defendant will avoid jail time if offered MCL 769.4a. The Michigan Domestic Violence Deferral Statute still allows for up to the maximum of 93 days in jail. Your criminal defense attorney can explain to you that avoiding jail time entirely requires the right kind of sentencing agreement or Cobbs evaluation. In general, sentencing often consists of a 12-month probation, counseling or anger management, an order for no contact with the victim and, if they were involved in the domestic violence incident, alcohol or drug treatment. Violating any of the terms of your probation will result in the court entering a judgment of guilt and sentencing you for a domestic violence crime.
First, Second, Third Offenses – DV
If you have been convicted of violent domestic crimes in the past, you face the potential of more severe punishment – including higher fines and longer jail sentences– if you are convicted of assault, assault and battery, felonious assault, or assault with the intent to commit murder or do great bodily harm.
In domestic assault cases, it is not required for the victim to show evidence of injuries to bring charges against the defendant. Criminal penalties for domestic assault in Michigan are as follows:
- First conviction (misdemeanor): Up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine of $500
- Second conviction (misdemeanor): Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000
- Third conviction (felony): Up to two years in jail and/or a fine of $2,500
Aggravated Domestic Assault
If a victim shows evidence of serious injuries that require medical attention, the crime will be classified as an aggravated domestic assault charge. Criminal penalties for aggravated domestic assault in Michigan are as follows:
- First conviction (misdemeanor): Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000
- Second conviction (felony): Up to two years in jail and/or a fine of $2,500
Assault & Battery
There are two definitions of assault in the state of Michigan: attempting to cause physical injury to another person, or intentionally threatening to harm someone (e.g., trying to throw a punch or slap someone). If it appears that the defendant has the ability to carry out the threat (e.g, brandishing a weapon) and the person being threatened fears an act of violence, the act will be classified as an assault. Intentionally inflicting violence or force against another person constitutes battery.
Assault and battery are linked together because, under Michigan law, the completion of a violent threat or attempt to injure someone (assault) ends in contact (battery).
If assault or battery is committed without a dangerous weapon, the crime is classified as a misdemeanor, though there are exceptions for domestic violence or crimes committed against a police officer. If serious injuries are the result of assault and battery, the crime is classified as aggravated assault and battery. This crime may end up with more jail time for the defendant but it is still classified as a misdemeanor.
- Conviction for simple assault or assault and battery can result in up to 93 days in jail, a $500 fine, probation for up to two years, and restitution, which means reimbursing the victim for any expenses they may have incurred as a result of the crime, like counseling or medical treatment.
- Conviction for aggravated assault and battery can result in up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, up to two years of probation, and restitution.
Starting your defense as soon as possible when facing aggravated assault charges in Michigan will be a critical element in your violent crimes case.
An aggravated assault misdemeanor charge which is assault without a weapon that results in an aggravated injury can result in up to one year in prison and fines of up to $1,000. If you have a history of convictions for violent crimes, battery, or assault, your punishment could be intensified.
An assault charge classified as a felony can result when police and prosecutors are able to prove that you intended to do great bodily harm but not murder another person. This can result in up to 10 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. An assault with intent to maim, wherein the defendant assaulted the victim with the intention of removing art of another person’s body can end with a five-year prison sentence and up to $5,000 in fines. Assault with the intent to commit murder could, of course, result in a sentence of life in prison.
A robbery charge in any form is a serious charge. Individuals who are charged with a robbery are considered dangers to society. Robbery charges are brought against anyone who is accused of stealing money or property and can result in a felony conviction and a prison sentence. Robberies committed under the use of force, violence, fear, or threats often result in an amplified penalty of up to 15 years in prison. Even attempted robbery can result in severe punishment. Unarmed robbery cases may include charges of shoplifting, retail fraud, misdemeanor theft, and embezzlement.
If the defendant is armed when committing a robbery, or if you have led the victim to believe that you are armed, you could face charged of armed robbery. Being found guilty of armed robbery could potentially lead to life imprisonment. If serious injury or if aggravated assault is part of the charge, the defendant will face a mandatory minimum sentence of at least two years in prison.
Carjacking is the robbery of a vehicle and is an extremely serious criminal charge. Individuals convicted of this charge in Michigan face up to life in prison. Even the theft of an empty vehicle can be accompanied by charges of grand theft auto or joyriding, but the use of force to remove the driver and occupants of a vehicle in order to procure it comes with far more serious charges. Violence or the threat of force or violence is all that is needed for carjacking charges to be filed. Grand theft auto charges are often turned into carjacking charges and only the help of an experienced Michigan defense attorney can protect you from getting the maximum sentence for this crime.
Kidnapping charges may also be filed against someone who has committed a carjacking and inadvertently driven away with people in the car, often sleeping children. Kidnapping charges alone could result in a felony conviction and up to life in prison as well as fines of up to $50,000.
Carjacking often involves a police chase which typically involves reckless speeds and reckless driving. This factor can bump up the carjacking charge and a defendant can face up to 10 years in prison.
Homicide is, of course, the most serious violent crime. Charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, or negligent homicide all require the expertise of an experienced Michigan defense attorney. It is essential to meet with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you have been arrested for murder or are under investigation in order to have support during questioning and help avoiding coercive or forceful police tactics.
In first-degree murder cases, prosecutors must prove that premeditation was involved. This terribly serious charge can result in life imprisonment. Second-degree murder can also result in a life sentence and remains a serious charge, but prosecutors are not required to prove premeditation.
A voluntary manslaughter conviction is faced when the accused has intentionally killed another person in the heat of the moment. This charge can result in 15 years in prison. An involuntary manslaughter case comes with the same potential punishment, but in this situation the accused has taken another person’s life without intending to cause their death (e.g., causing a car accident that results in another person’s death).
What Can a Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney Do for Me?
No two violent crimes are alike, and fully knowing the circumstances that accompany a charge of domestic violence, assault, robbery, or murder are crucial to building a strong defense and protecting you from spending years in prison. A thorough investigation of your case and the utilization of expert witnesses, particularly in homicide cases, is the difference between years in jail and a life of freedom.
Ultimately, the goal is to protect your legal rights, minimize your punishment, and, in some cases, have your charges completely dropped. Consult a Michigan criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you are faced with a violent crime charge.