What’s a dangerous weapon in Michigan? Can throwing a toaster really be a felony?

What’s a dangerous weapon in Michigan? Can throwing a toaster really be a felony?

In Michigan, a simple assault becomes a felonious assault when a dangerous weapon is involved.  This could be your typical idea of a weapon (knife, bat, brass knuckles) or something less obvious like a lamp, toaster or a high heel. 

The term “assault” means that you placed someone in immediately fear of a battery.  Therefore, simply pointing a knife at someone, if it that makes them think that they may be stabbed or injured is the definition of a felonious assault in Michigan.  

As a former prosecutor who handled many felony assault cases, the two things I would look for would be the “weapon” used and if their were any injuries.  Someone swinging a knife around at least to me was more serious in nature than someone throwing a toaster oven at another person.  Both could hurt someone, and both are serious crimes, but I tried to examine the mindset of the defendant.  In my mind at least, you pull a knife to hurt someone or scare them, the very definition of assault; you probably throw a toaster in the heat of the moment rather than an intention to hurt someone.  

I would then look at what happened with that weapon.  There is a more serious charge in Michigan called Assault with Intent to Commit Bodily Harm Less than Murder that could be charged, and likely if the person used a knife and actually hurt the person. 

A knife stabbing is more likely to do great bodily harm than throwing the toaster oven at someone.  But, that toaster oven, could either hit the wall and not the victim or bruise/injure the victim pretty good.  That difference could mean different outcomes at least from what the prosecutor would offer in your typical case.  

If the defendant lacked a violent criminal history, and the case would have been a misdemeanor assault, but for a funky fact like a toaster or a lamp were involved as a “dangerous weapon”, I would be more likely to be open to dismissing a felony and potentially reducing to a misdemeanor, or having an open mind to a first offender type program.  While this might be my mindset, I want to know a lot more about the person charged.

As a criminal defense attorney, I rely on that knowledge and know that if the prosecutor is willing to keep an open mind, I still need to justify that decision for the prosecutor.  If alcohol was involved in the incident, we’re alcohol testing voluntarily on day one.  We’re engaged in community service work, potentially in counseling, maybe taking anger management classes.  If the charges stem from domestic violence, and both parties are agreeable and the contact is allowed, we might do some couples counseling.  

We must go above and beyond and show the key players (prosecutor and judge) that your typical Saturday night is NOT using a deadly weapon against friends, family and neighbors.  We try to better understand how we got to this point, and work on the trigger/driving force.  It might be alcohol, might be a hostile relationship with the victim, general anger management/self control issues.  Better for us to identify the issue, and work on it then the judge and prosecutor to judge you based on a single moment in time; a felony with a deadly weapon. 

2018-05-01T23:20:48+00:00May 1st, 2018|