In Michigan, assault crimes range in severity, and the offense a defendant is charged with depends on the circumstances surrounding the alleged attack. Many assault crimes require the State to prove the defendant’s intent at the time the offense was committed, and if it cannot, the defendant may be able to argue that a lesser charge is appropriate. Recently, a Michigan court issued an opinion explaining jury instructions for lesser included offenses in assault cases, in a matter in which it ultimately determined that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury per the defendant’s request. If you are charged with an assault crime, it is prudent to meet with a seasoned Michigan criminal defense lawyer to assess your potential defenses.
Procedural History of the Case
Allegedly, the defendant was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm. Prior to trial, he filed a motion asking the court to instruct the jury on the crime of assault and battery on the grounds that it was a lesser-included offense of assault with intent to do great bodily harm. He further asserted that a rational view of the evidence supported the instruction.
It is reported that during the oral argument the court held on the motion, the prosecution conceded that assault and battery was a lesser included offense of assault with intent to do great bodily harm but objected to the instruction regardless on the basis that the intent element of the charged offense was not disputed, as the defense argued that no assault occurred. The court denied the defendant’s motion, and he was convicted as charged. The defendant appealed, but his conviction was upheld. He then appealed to the Supreme Court of Michigan.
Lesser Included Offense Jury Instructions in Assault Matters
The Supreme Court of Michigan reversed the trial court ruling. The court noted that it is well established that a party can assert grounds that differ from its original position in support of affirming a trial court ruling, in the subject case. As the prosecution admitted that assault and battery was a lesser included offense of assault with intent to do great bodily harm at the trial level, though, it waived the right to argue otherwise. As such, without ruling definitively on the issue, the court assumed that assault and battery was a lesser included offense of assault with intent to do great bodily harm.
Further, the court rejected the prosecution’s argument that the defense theory that the prosecution would not be able to prove an assault occurred meant that the assault element of the charged offense was not disputed, noting that a criminal defendant can assert inconsistent defenses. The court stated that if there was sufficient evidence to support a jury instruction, it should be provided, and remanded the matter for a new trial.
Speak to an Experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer
Assault crimes can carry significant penalties, but there are often numerous defenses people charged with assault can assert. If you are faced with charges that you committed an assault and battery offense, it is smart to speak to an attorney to determine what the prosecution must prove to establish your guilt. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney who can gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. You can reach Mr. Bernstein through the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a meeting.