Felonious Assault Attorney in Lansing
Being accused of felonious assault is a serious charge anywhere in the state. But in Lansing, such charges can prove especially problematic.
One reason for this is that for many years the city has seen an assault rate that is significantly higher than the average rate across the nation. In 2012, for instance, the incident rate per 100,000 people was higher in Lansing than in some of the nation's largest cities, such as Chicago and New York City. For this reason, some prosecutors, juries, and judges have become biased against individuals who have been charged with such a crime, and a knowledgeable and aggressive defense attorney in Lansing has become vital in the fight for justice.
The good news, however? A felonious assault charge can be successfully fought in court – especially if your situation leaves room for interpretation about whether or not you were carrying a “dangerous weapon” or “intended to cause physical harm.” With a dedicated assault lawyer and a strong case, you can see justice in the courtroom, regardless of where the alleged assault took place.
What Is Felonious Assault?
Unlike simple assault, which is a misdemeanor, felonious assault – or assault with a deadly weapon – is a felony crime punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a $2,000 fine. The distinguishing mark that separates it from simple assault (which is a misdemeanor) is the possession of a dangerous weapon. However, the definition of “dangerous” is open to much judicial interpretation.
Some dangerous weapons, for example, are obvious, because they are designed to cause significant physical harm. Certain types of weapons are specifically named in Section 750.82 of the Michigan Penal Code. Such weapons include a “gun, revolver, pistol, knife, iron bar, club, [and] brass knuckles.” If the assault was committed with one of these objects, the only remaining defenses are to prove that the accused did not intend to commit significant harm or was acting in self-defense.
However other “dangerous weapons” may not be so clear. A baseball bat, for instance, is neither considered dangerous nor a weapon when used for its intended purpose. However, when wielded at a person's head, it can cause severe injury and even death, allowing it to be classified a dangerous weapon when used in that fashion. In fact, almost any object, no matter how innocuous, that is capable of causing death when used in the manner in which the accused was employing it can be classified as a dangerous weapon. It's the job of your attorney to make sure the prosecutor does not misconstrue the facts of the assault to make it appear as if you were acting more dangerously than you were.
Assault v. Battery
Physical contact is not necessary for you to be convicted of felonious assault. This is one of the most difficult concepts for many accused victims to fully grasp, however it is a vital principle in formulating your defense. In other words, you can be proven guilty of assault, even if your attorney can prove you never actually touched the victim or caused him any harm whatsoever.
The reason for this is the legal distinction between assault and battery. Assault is the threat of harming a person. Battery is the violent action taken upon that threat. You can think of assault as the promise and battery as the follow-through. Assault and battery may happen together; however no battery needs to occur for you to be convicted of felonious assault.
For example, if you were to pull a knife on a person and wield it in such a way that the person genuinely believed himself to be in imminent physical danger, you could be charged with assault, even if the knife never touched his skin. Likewise, if you pulled a gun on a person, you could be convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, even if the gun was unloaded or only appeared to be a real weapon.
The importance of selecting an experienced attorney cannot be understated for this type of crime, since a maximum penalty can mean four years in prison and a $2,000 fine, provided there are no aggravating factors. Because the crime is considered a felony, if the accused is convicted he will also have a permanent criminal record and lose certain privileges until both his prison term is complete and his fines are paid, including the right to vote and own a gun.
If you are a repeat offender or have other qualifying felonies on your record, the penalty may be increased. A second offense increases your sentence by 25%, a third offense by 50%, and a fourth offense by 100%.
Furthermore, if the assault took place on school property (including a school bus or other school-owned vehicle), the penalty will be harsher, with a first offense carrying up to $6,000 in fines and 150 hours of community service in addition to the four year prison sentence. The prosecution may also attempt to charge you with various related crimes, such possession of a firearm in commission of a felony, which can give you an additional two years in prison, or assault with the intent to rob or steal, which can result in incarceration for life.
The job of your attorney is to make sure trumped up charges such as these are soundly refuted and justice is maintained.
If you've been accused of felonious assault anywhere in Lansing or the surrounding areas, don't walk into the courtroom with anything less than the best defense. At Grabel & Associates, we're experienced in representing all kinds of assault cases and will work tirelessly for your best possible solution. Give us a call to discuss your case at 1-800-342-7896 or contact us online now.