Assault and Violent Crimes in Michigan: Charges, Penalties & Defense

Gavel - Violent crimes attorney in Michigan, David J. Kramer

Have you or has a loved one been charged with a violent crime?

Do you know which crimes are considered violent in the criminal justice system?

If this is your first experience with our criminal justice system, you might not know that so-called “violent” crimes are often portrayed differently to judges and juries.

Those accused of these types of crimes receive less leniency while others charged with non-violent crimes receive more.

Society is coming to believe that some offenders can be rehabilitated and some can’t. Guess who it is that we lock up and throw away the key?

“Violent” offenders.

Of course, nothing is further from the truth. If you have committed what our justice system sees as a violent crime, you need to hire an aggressive defense attorney right away, especially if you don’t have experience with the system.

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You may not know how aggressive the prosecution is prepared to get.

Types of Violent Crimes

Assault & Battery

The distinction between these two words is often lost. However, here is how this charge works in practice.

In Michigan, you do not have to actually hit someone or beat them up to be charged with assault.

If you threaten someone or try to hit someone, you have committed what the law calls assault and battery.

It is often shortened and just called “assault.” This doesn’t always look like what we think of as assault.

An assault charge can be complicated by several factors whether you:

  • Meant to inflict serious injury (Aggravated Assault, or Assault with Intent to Do Great Bodily Harm Less Than Murder)
  • Had a dangerous weapon (Felonious Assault)
  • Intended to kill someone (Assault with Intent To Murder)
  • Whether the charge was in conjunction with a robbery (Assault with Intent to Rob)

Domestic Assault

In its own category, domestic assault is a charge that gets thrown at a lot of people.

Domestic assault or domestic violence has the same definition as assault & battery. However, the accuser must be a:

  • Spouse
  • Former spouse
  • Partner or former dating partner
  • Someone with whom you have lived
  • Or someone with whom you have a child.

Even if your accuser drops the charge, prosecutors can decide to pursue it against that person’s wishes.


Believe it or not, Michigan considers arson to be a violent crime. This is the deliberate burning of a building, even if it’s your own house.

Arson is separated by degrees under Michigan law, depending on the damage done and any injuries that resulted.

If you are falsely accused of arson in Michigan, contact my immediately. We will get experts in fire science to prove that a fire was accidental and not set intentionally.


The definition of this crime in Michigan leaves much open to interpretation.

It is contact with someone without their consent plus their feelings of being “terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested.”

If you are also in violation of a restraining order or if you are also charged with or have been convicted of stalking a family member or household member of the accuser, you may be charged with aggravated stalking.


In Michigan, kidnapping is also broadly defined. If there is restraint coupled with:

  • Holding someone for ransom.
  • Using someone as a hostage or shield.
  • Taking someone across state lines.
  • Keeping someone in involuntary servitude.
  • Criminal sexual acts either with an adult or child.

Any of these things can be considered kidnapping and charged as such.

It leaves room for sexual assault charges to also include kidnapping, for instance. In addition, since kidnapping is a capital offense, potential penalties could include life in prison.

Felony Firearm

If you commit or allegedly commit a felony while in possession of a firearm, this is the charge known as “Felony Firearm.”

This charge is commonly tacked onto another charge like armed robbery. It carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence that can’t be served along with your sentence for any other conviction.

It is what is known as a mandatory consecutive sentence. If you get charged with this offense, you need an aggressive defense attorney because prosecutors will try to make any potential sentence longer with this charge.

Gang Violence

Another charge that carries a mandatory consecutive sentence is the charge of committing a felony as a gang member.

In other words, the State of Michigan says it’s a felony in itself to commit a felony as part of a gang. The difference between this and felony firearm charge is that the penalty is 20 years in prison.


It may be one of, if not the most serious charge in the law: the taking of another life.

If you are facing a homicide charge, you need a skilled attorney. Remember: prosecutors will seek the maximum penalty for this violent crime.

Experienced Violent Crimes Attorney

These are not all possible violent crimes in Michigan. However, they are some of the charges I see most often in my office.

If you are or a loved one is facing charges of violent crime, call my office for your free consultation.

Let me work to help you get the best possible outcome in your case.

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