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Steep Penalties for Assault by Strangulation or Suffocation

Mark Mandell, Esq.

About two years ago, a new Michigan law prohibiting “assault by strangulation or suffocation” went into effect. The law imposes severe penalties upon an aggressor who engages in the conduct prohibited by the statute.

MCL 750.84 states that any person who assaults another person by strangulation or suffocation is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine of up to $5,000, or both. The law defines “strangulation or suffocation” as “intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person.”

It is not necessary for a victim to suffer any actual injury in order for the State to charge an aggressor with assault by strangulation. Furthermore, an aggressor’s intent – which must be proven for a defendant to be found guilty – may be inferred simply from the use of physical violence.

In short, assault by strangulation is a very serious offense that is difficult neither to commit nor to charge.  Citizens should be mindful to avoid any conduct that could be construed as prohibited under this statute. 

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