Will Michigan State football players face criminal charges for their alleged assault on Michigan Players? Is it a simple or aggravated assault. What is the difference?
Our criminal defense law firm represents person charged with a variety of crimes and offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Many of these cases involve matters pertaining to physical violence. A very common offense that our law firm deals with is assault. Assault is classified into two (2) categories – simple and aggravated.
What happened in Michigan?
Recently an incident occurred between college football players from Michigan State and Michigan following a their game in Ann Arbor, MI. Following their 29-7 loss, cameras captured Michigan State football players clearly attacking a Michigan player along with another player.
One player, Gemon Green, has already hired a personal injury lawyer to seek financial damages for the attack. According to Green’s lawyer, his client sustained a concussion following the incident Keep in mind, however, that only state government can file criminal charges against these Michigan State players. It remains unknown if these players will face charges. This case, however, presents a good opportunity to explain the difference between simple and aggravated assault.
Our law firm isn’t licensed in Michigan but the criminal statute there is very similar to the assault laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
What are the elements of the Assault Charge? Is it felony?
The crime of assault can be a misdemeanor and or a felony charge. The prosecution can actually charge both crimes against one person but they would merge at sentencing. This means that if convicted a person could not be sentenced for both crimes. Simple assault merges with aggravated assault because all of the elements of simple assault (misdemeanor) are contained within aggravated assault
A simple assault is misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania and is disorderly persons offense in New Jersey (2C:12-1a). Aggravated assault (2701 Title 18-Pennsylvania) is a felony crime in Pennsylvania and an indictable crime in New Jersey (2C:12-1b).
If a person is convicted of aggravated assault, they typically face a possible lengthy county sentence or even State prison. Whereas a simple assault is more likely a probation sentence upon a conviction, but there are situations where a person can be sentenced to jail.
It appears that at least one Michigan player will seek civil damages against the Michigan State player and likely the University! There is a difference, however between a civil and criminal complaint in that a civil complaint is brought by a private person against another person. A criminal complaint, however, ultimately will involve the State or a federal government.
What is the difference between Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault?
If these Michigan players are charged criminally, it will likely be simple assault. Simple assault in Michigan, like Pennsylvania and New Jersey is an attempt to cause or causing bodily injury to another person. A person can also commit simple assault if he or she commits or causes bodily injury negligently with a deadly weapon. The law classifies deadly weapons very broadly which means that it doesn’t need to be a gun but can be pretty much any object. A football helmet would be considered a deadly weapon.
Keep in mind, however, that if the prosecutor believed that these players used their equipment in attempt to cause serious bodily injury, they could be charged with aggravated assault
Aggravated assault occurs when the accused attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another or causes serious bodily injury intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life”. An aggravated assault is also committed when a person causes or intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon. There is also an aggravated assault crime reserved for contact with law enforcement and other enumerated person (fire fighter, paramedics, judge) which is beyond the scope of this short article.
What options to these Michigan State players if they are charged with a crime?
If these players are charged with a crime, they will most likely be eligible for a diversion program similar to Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) or New Jersey’s Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. These diversion programs allow usually first time offenders to avoid criminal records which can have long term consequences.
If you’re charged with an assault charge in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, contact our criminal defense law firm today. Do not assume that your matter will simply resolve itself without long term consequences to your record,
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