In Michigan criminal matters, the prosecution bears the burden of proving each element of a charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If it cannot meet this burden, the evidence should be deemed insufficient to obtain or sustain a conviction. The standard of review the court employs when faced with challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence was the topic of a recent Michigan ruling in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for assault with a deadly weapon. If you are charged with an assault crime, it is advisable to speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney to determine your options for seeking a favorable outcome.
The Alleged Assault
Reportedly, the victims were in their front yard when they heard a loud boom. They then listened to a person make a comment regarding the firing of a gun then threaten to kill them. The victims did not see the defendant but determined he was the one speaking because they recognized his voice. The person than shown a light at the female victim’s head, which they believed to be a light attached to a gun.
Allegedly, the victims returned to their apartment and called the police. The police spoke with the defendant, who advise he heard a noise that sounded like a gunshot, after which he grabbed his gun and pointed it at the victims. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and was convicted by a jury, after which he appealed.
The Standard of Review for Challenges to the Sufficiency of the Evidence
On appeal, the defendant argued his conviction should be overturned because there was insufficient evidence presented at trial for the jury to determine that he used a deadly weapon. The appellate court was not persuaded by his argument and affirmed his conviction. The court explained that when a party challenges the sufficiency of the State’s evidence in a criminal trial, an appellate court will review the evidence de novo in a light most favorable to the State to determine whether the fact finder would find that the elements of the charged offense were proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The appellate court elaborated that direct evidence of guilt is not necessary, and circumstantial evidence is sufficient to sustain a conviction. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the circumstantial evidence indicating that the defendant pointed a gun at the victims was more than adequate to sustain his conviction. Thus, it denied his appeal.
Confer with an Experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
People accused of assault do not have to produce any evidence at trial, but the prosecution does, and if the proof offered by the State is inadequate, the defendant should be found not guilty. If you are accused of an assault defense, you should confer with an attorney regarding what measures you can take to protect your interests. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is an experienced Michigan assault defense lawyer who can advise you of your rights and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a successful result. You can reach Mr. Bernstein through the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a meeting.