In many assault cases, the prosecution relies on testimony from the victim and any witnesses to the incident to establish the defendants’ guilt. Thus, if they testify that the defendant was not the person who committed the alleged offense, it may be challenging for the prosecution to prove its case. In matters in which witnesses recant earlier statements in which they indicated the defendant’s guilt, however, they may be found to lack credibility, and the defendant may be convicted despite their favorable testimony. This was shown in a recent Michigan ruling in which the court denied the defendant’s motion for new trial after his assault conviction. If you are accused of assault or any other crime, it is advisable to meet with a Michigan criminal defense lawyer to discuss your potential defenses.
The Assault and Subsequent Trial
It is reported that the defendant and the victim were involved in a verbal altercation, after which the victim got into a vehicle and began to drive away. The defendant then began to shoot at the vehicle. He was charged with assault with intent to commit murder and other crimes. At his trial, the victim and his mother, who was at the scene of the incident, both testified that they did not know who shot at the vehicle.
Allegedly, the prosecution then presented evidence of earlier statements made by the victim and his mother in which they identified the defendant as the shooter, including a letter from the mother to the police. The defendant was ultimately convicted as charged. He then moved for a new trial, arguing in part that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. The court denied his motion, and he appealed.
Evidence of Guilt in an Assault Case
The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that a court might order a new trial on the groundsthat the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, only if the evidence was so heavily in favor of the opposite verdict that the verdict constitutes a miscarriage of justice. In other words, a verdict will generally only be vacated when the evidence does not reasonably support the verdict and it is clear it most likely arose out of some extraneous influence.
The court explained that, unless exceptional circumstances are present, the issue of a witness’s credibility is for the jury, and the trial court does not have the right to substitute its view of credibility for the jury’s. Further, conflicting testimony, even if it is impeached, is not an adequate basis for granting a new trial. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant failed to demonstrate the trial court ruling was erroneous. Thus, it was affirmed.
Speak to a Trusted Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer
The credibility of witnesses at a criminal trial is within the purview of the jury, and if the jury issues a guilty verdict after finding that a witness that is favorable to the defendant lacks credibility, it will likely be upheld. If you are charged with assault, you should speak to an attorney to determine what evidence the prosecution may introduce against you. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a trusted Michigan criminal defense attorney who can develop a strategy designed to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable result. You can reach Mr. Bernstein through the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a meeting.