Lansing Assault with Intent to Commit Murder Attorney
When wrongs are committed and tempers flare, it's easy to allow emotions to take the wheel. However, when fights become physical and bodily harm is threatened or leads to battery, the Lansing police may give those emotions another name - assault.
Although many people think of assault as a simple misdemeanor, there are exceptional circumstances that allow it to become a felony. Foremost among these in terms of severity is Assault with Intent to Commit Murder in Lansing, which can carry a life sentence.
In some instances, premeditated murder truly is the motivating factor behind the attack; however more commonly, these charges are brought by a prosecution that has incorrectly surmised the intention behind the fight or incorrectly classified it as an unprovoked attack instead of an act of self-defense. In these cases, having a relentless and aggressive defense attorney in Lansing to expose the true facts of your case is paramount, and should be your first priority before you answer any questions for the police.
What is Assault with Intent to Commit Murder (AWIM)?
As its name suggests, AWIM not only concerns the actual act that was performed, but also the intent behind the action. This type of assault is highly specific – having intent to cause grave harm is not enough for a conviction under these charges. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the intent was murder.
For a defendant to be convicted of AWIM, the prosecution must prove all three of the following:
- The defendant committed assault
Proving assault can be complex, since no physical contact has to occur. In fact, even if the defendant never touched the victim and had no ability to hurt him, he can still be convicted of assault if he threatened bodily harm in such a way that the victim reasonably believed battery was imminent.
For example, if the defendant threatened to shoot the victim while holding an unloaded paintball gun that closely resembled a real weapon, he could be convicted of assault, even though the victim was never harmed nor could have been shot in the manner the defendant threatened.
- The defendant had the ability or believed he had the ability to inflict injury
Because assault does not have to be followed by battery, the prosecution must also prove that the defendant had the ability or believed he had the ability to follow through on his threat.
If, for example, in the above scenario, the defendant knew the weapon was an unloaded paintball gun and realized he did not have the ability to kill the victim, he could be convicted of assault, but not assault with intent to commit murder. However, if he picked up the paintball gun by mistake, believing it to be a real weapon, he could be convicted to AWIM, even though he never had the ability to kill the victim, because he believed he did.
- The defendant had the specific intention to commit murder
For obvious reasons, this factor is the most important in obtaining a conviction of Assault with Intent to Commit Murder. It can also be the most difficult to prove. Proving that the defendant intended to maim the victim or cause other great bodily harm, does not lend itself toward an AWIM conviction. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's intention was specifically to kill with malice aforethought and that he was not acting in self-defense, in the heat of passion, or under the influence of an unsound mind.
The maximum penalty for Assault with Intent to Commit Murder is life imprisonment, although any length prison sentence is possible under the current wording of the law. As a Class A felony, however, such a conviction rarely, if ever, receives less than 20 years and one day (the maximum penalty for Class B felonies being 20 years) and often receives a full life's sentence. That's why it's vital to obtain the best legal counsel available as soon as possible after you are arrested. With the future of your life at stake, you need to arm yourself as well as possible against trumped-up charges and overly zealous prosecutors who may push for an AWIM charge when a lesser charge more accurately reflects the reality of the situation.
Defenses Against Assault with Intent to Commit Murder
Because murder requires “malice aforethought,” self-defense, the defense of others, or the defense of your home from an unprovoked attack when you believed harm was imminent, are not considered murder. Michigan's “Stand Your Ground” laws make it legal to use force – even deadly force – when you are in a place you have a legal right to be and are the subject of an unprovoked attack.
A plea of insanity can also be used as a defense under the guidelines set forth by the Model Penal Code. Under this code, a defendant may be declared not guilty by reason of insanity if he is diagnosed with a relevant mental illness or mental retardation such that he could not understand the difference between right and wrong or understood but was unable to control his actions.
Call A Defense Attorney Early
Regardless of the circumstances behind your accusations, it's imperative that you hire an experienced and aggressive attorney as quickly as possible following your arrest. We strongly encourage you not to speak to the police without your lawyer, since disclosing some information may harm your case. Instead, if you're looking for an attorney, call us for a free consultation at 1-800-342-7896, or online, and let us help you start forming your case.