Understanding the Difference Between Assault and Battery

Unlike some states, Michigan courts define the crimes of assault and battery in context-specific ways. In other words, the offense you are charged with depends on your intent at the time you committed it as well as the actual outcome.


An altercation becomes an assault when you attempt to injure someone else by striking them with your hand or an object. Even if the attempt doesn’t succeed, it is still considered assault: you can be charged simply for raising your fist or waving a weapon at the person. If the other party has reasonable cause to believe that you intend to harm them, you have committed assault under Michigan law.

Assault and Battery

An assault charge becomes assault and battery when you actually hit the person with your fist or an object. Michigan law defines the difference between ‘assault’ and ‘assault and battery’ because “battery” is a more serious offense. With battery, actual violence was committed because you followed through on the threat or attempt to cause injury. In other words, for a crime to be classified as battery, there must be contact between you and the other person or with an item in the person’s possession. With assault, there does not have to be.

Cases that involve assault or assault and battery are considered misdemeanors if no dangerous weapon is involved. If convicted, you can spend up to 93 days in jail and be ordered to pay a $500 fine.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is another misdemeanor assault crime, but it is regarded as more serious than assault and battery. This is because your attack resulted in an aggravated injury. Penalties upon conviction include up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Felonious Assault

Your assault charge could be elevated to a felony accusation if you used a weapon during the alleged assault. A conviction can send you to prison for up to four years and force you to pay a $2,000 fine.

Other felony assault crimes in Michigan include:

  • Assault with Intent to Maim or Intent to do Great Bodily Harm
  • Assault with Intent to Commit a Felony

If you have been accused of assault, assault and battery, or felony assault in Michigan, both your future and your freedom depend upon experienced legal counsel. At the Law Office of Melissa M. Pearce, we have a successful history of assault defense, and will work tirelessly to ensure the best outcome for your case.

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