Assault & Battery and Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers
Serving All of West Michigan, including Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Big Rapids
There are lots of different kinds of assaults under the law. When you or someone you know is charged with an assault, it is imperative that you have an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in handling these types of cases and will vigorously defend you. The attorneys at Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law, P.L.L.C., are experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated, when it comes to handling these types of criminal cases. When you are faced with such a serious allegation, call our attorneys who focus their practice on criminal cases for a free case evaluation and consultation.
Common Assault Crimes
Assault/Battery (M.C.L. § 750.81(1)) (Maximum penalty is 93 days in jail/$500 fine)
A battery is basically an unwanted physical touching. An assault is essentially the threat of immediate battery. A simple assault/battery is a very common offense and covers a wide variety of fights from heated arguments with a threat of a battery to bar fights to schoolyard fights. If medical attention is required or a weapon is involved, more serious charges, e.g., aggravated assault, felonious assault, or assault with a dangerous weapon may be levied.
Domestic Violence (M.C.L. § 750.81(2)) (1st offense: maximum penalty is 93 days in jail/$500 fine; 2d offense: maximum penalty 1 year/$1000 fine; 3rd offense is felony: 2 years/$2,500 fine)
A charge of domestic violence (DV) is basically an assault or battery that occurs with someone with whom you have a domestic or dating relationship, e.g., husband/wife, parent/child, girlfriend/boyfriend, child in common, or roommate.
Unlike, assault or battery, the law specifically allows a judge to give a “break” for first time offenders under M.C.L. § 769.4a. If you are convicted of a DV, usually by plea (but possibly at trial), and the Court accepts your plea under § 769.4a, the Court will not enter a conviction on your record if you successfully complete the terms of probation. This “break” is commonly referred to as a “DV deferral” because the entry of a conviction is deferred pending the outcome of a probationary period. Probation usually entails paying an oversight fee (the court cannot impose fines or costs because you have not been convicted of the offense, even though you pled guilty), successfully completing counseling, and avoiding any other legal trouble. If, however, you fail to successfully complete probation, the Court, having already found you guilty by plea or at trial, will enter a conviction on your record. A DV deferral is only an option if you have never before been found guilty of an assault or battery.
In addition, if you are convicted of a DV, you may be prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal or state law. You should consult with an attorney to ensure compliance with both federal and state law.
Common Defenses to Assault Charges
There are both factual and legal defenses to assaults. A factual defense is relatively simple, e.g., “I didn’t do it,” “I did it, but it was an accident,” or the prosecutor can’t prove I did it, etc. A legal defense can be either a justification or an excuse.
A common example of justification is self-defense, i.e., the assault or battery is established, but the law justifies your actions because of the necessity of self defense. There are also several other justification defenses that may be asserted depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, e.g., defense of others, defense of property, parental discipline, etc. The assertion of a good defense, even short of trial, may results in more favorable plea negotiations as well. However, there are important factual and legal considerations and limitations with these defenses that you must carefully consider with your attorney that are highly dependent on the facts of your particular case.
The law may also excuse your actions in certain circumstances. A common example of excuse is an “insanity” defense. Because criminal laws are traditionally based on the assumption that a person should only be held criminally accountable for their actions if they intended or intentionally committed the alleged act, the law may excuse an act if you can establish that you did not intend to commit the act, but rather committed it as a result of a mental illness or defect or, essentially, that you did not know what you were doing was wrong. However, this is a complicated area of the law, because society does not want to excuse bad behavior or acts without good reason, which requires an experienced attorney and often the assistance of experts. You should consult with an attorney if you are considering asserting an excuse-based defense.
Civil Liability and Lawsuits
The law also allows the subject of an assault or battery to sue the person who assaulted or battered them. Such a lawsuit can be based on many different of grounds or theories, but the bottom line is that the person is usually seeking compensation for their damages sustained as a result of the assault or battery, e.g., medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc. Because a civil lawsuit often follows on the heals of a criminal case, you may need an attorney to navigate you through the perils of a criminal case as well as to limit your exposure to a civil lawsuit. If you have been accused of any type of assault or battery, you should beware of the civil liability attendant to those allegations and consult with an attorney.
In addition to the direct criminal punishment imposed for being convicted of an assault, e.g., jail, probation, fines/costs, no contact provisions, registration requirements, counseling, there are many collateral consequences that may follow a conviction as well. The following is non-exhaustive list of possible collateral consequences:
- You may be prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law;
- You may lose or not be granted a permit to carry a concealed weapon or loss of your hunting privileges;
- You may have to register as a Sex Offender and be prohibited from living near a school;
- You may be placed on child protective services (CPS) registry or a CPS investigation might be initiated;
- You many be denied a visa or permission to travel to a foreign country;
- You may be sued in a civil lawsuit;
- You may have to disclose the conviction to your employer or during a background check.
Call Now for a Free Case Evaluation and Consultation
To raise the best defense against assault charges, call Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law, P.L.L.C.’s Grand Rapids office at 616-458-5500 or our Fremont office at 231-924-8700 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.