Domestic Violence Charges, Penalties, and More
The Michigan domestic violence defense lawyers dedicated to the passionate, tenacious, and compassionate representation of those charged with domestic violence.
Decades of Experience and a Track Record of Success
Collectively, we have decades of experience successfully defending against domestic violence allegations in Michigan, and we are adept at handling all aspects of domestic violence cases. Our aggressive domestic violence attorneys know that the consequences to clients and their families due to domestic violence allegations can be life-changing in a tragic way. Our lawyers stop at nothing to protect our clients from being over prosecuted, falsely prosecuted, or taken advantage of by a Michigan prosecutor or a judge who does not care enough to adequately consider our client’s personal situation. If you face felony or misdemeanor DV charges, your best hope of an exceptional outcome is with a respected, aggressive domestic violence attorney.
Some people say that domestic violence is a crime without witnesses. Often the only witnesses to an alleged offense are the people involved. Sometimes minor children are witnesses. Since domestic violence most often takes place without witnesses, it is a charge that is easily abused. False reporting of domestic abuse is an epidemic in Michigan. False reporting and false accusations of domestic violence and abuse regularly occur when there is a contentious divorce. one spouse used the false allegations to gain an advantage over the other relative to assets, the marital home, or child custody. If a false report is made, even if the complainant doesn’t follow through or admits the allegations were untrue, the prosecutors can be relentless and refuse to acknowledge the possibility of a fabricated allegation.
Domestic Violence Offenses
Michigan state law punishes a first offense for domestic violence as a misdemeanor offense subject to up to 93 days in jail and a maximum $500 fine. Domestic violence or domestic assault is an assault or assault and battery when any of the following also exists:
- the complaining witness is a spouse or former spouse;
- the complaining witness has a child in common with the Defendant;
- the complaining witness has or had a dating relationship with the Defendant; or
- the complainant witness is a resident or a former resident of the same household as the Defendant;
- the complainant is a child of the defendant.
Possible Enhanced Penalties
The maximum possible sentence for domestic violence can increase to one year if there is a prior conviction. A defendant with two or more prior convictions will be charged with a felony and see their maximum possible sentence increase to two years in prison (Michigan Department of Corrections). A defendant charged with a 2-year felony will also be subject to a possible habitual offender enhancement if they have any prior felony convictions.
The possible prior convictions that can increase the punishment or the level of the domestic assault charge includes the following:
- Aggravated Assault or Assault with the Infliction of Injury (MCL 750.81a);
- Felonious Assault (Assault with a Dangerous Weapon) (MCL 750.82);
- Assault with Intent to Commit Murder (MCL 750.83);
- Assault with Intent to do Great Bodily Harm Less than Murder (Assault GBH) (MCL 750.84);
- A violation of a local ordinance that is substantially similar to any of the previously described offenses;
- A violation of a law of another state or local ordinance that substantially corresponds to any of the above statutes.
A Clean Record – When All Else Fails
Even for those defendants who are “guilty” and do not wish to have a trial, there is an option whereby a defendant can still avoid a conviction. Although many judges and prosecutors will be reluctant to take a domestic violence case under advisement, and complainants may be extremely reluctant, a great, aggressive domestic violence attorney will often have the knowledge, persuasive ability, and persistence to achieve such an extraordinary result. Under MCL 769.4a, the Court may place the Defendant on probation after a finding of guilt (by plea or trial conviction). No judgment is entered, and no conviction is placed on the defendant’s criminal history. If the defendant successfully completes the terms of probation, the Court discharges the Defendant and dismisses the proceedings without a finding of guilt.
In order to receive 769.4a the Defendant must meet the following criteria:
- The Defendant has no previous conviction for assaultive crimes in this or another state;
- The Prosecuting Attorney, in consultation with the complaining witness, consents to the under advisement status.
Every defendant granted probation under MCL 769.4a is not treated the same. Some defendants are given fair and balanced sentences, and others are given arduous, expensive, and complicated sentences. In most cases, if a defendant is represented by a successful, retained attorney with extensive experience handling these cases, a sentence can be procured that is fair and not unduly burdensome.
Other Alternatives Available with a Skilled Domestic Violence Attorney
There are provisions under some local ordinances (if the Defendant is convicted under a local ordinance) that also give the defendant the possibility of having the conviction expunged from the public record. Also, a Defendant that does not meet the criteria under 769.4a or a local diversionary program may be able to have their case taken under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA). If a defendant is granted HYTA, a conviction is never entered, and the court files a dismissal when the defendant successfully completes probation.
Violation of Probation in a Domestic Violence Case
A finding that a defendant violated probation might reverse an under advisement status granted by the court. A violation of probation, probation violation, or VOP, if substantiated, can result in the loss of a deferred disposition. In fact, the Court is required to enter the plea of guilty and impose a sentence if a violation of probation is substantiated based upon any of the following:
- the Defendant fails to attend and participate in counseling if directed to do so;
- the Defendant violates any outstanding no contact provisions placed on the Defendant’s bail or bond;
- the Defendant commits an assaultive crime while out on probation.
If there is a violation of probation, all is not lost, and a top-notch lawyer can turn around what seems like a hopeless situation. Only the most experienced, resourceful, and aggressive domestic violence attorneys know the techniques and procedures to (a) keep their clients out of jail, (b) avoid a conviction (when possible), and (c) prevent increased probation conditions or length.
How can an aggressive domestic violence attorney help limit or eliminate the consequences of a conviction?
A conviction for domestic violence can result in the loss of the right to carry a concealed weapon, the ability to hunt, and much more. Federal and state law prohibitions can arise upon a conviction for a domestic violence or domestic assault crime, including the right to purchase, possess, transport, and/or obtain a Carrying a Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit. This could also have negative repercussions on employment where possession of a firearm is necessary.
Domestic violence or domestic assault allegations can affect an individual’s parental custodial rights under MCL 722.23(k), MCL 722.25(1), and MCL 722.27a(3). It is not uncommon for allegations of domestic violence or domestic assault to be raised precisely for this impact during a custody dispute. False or fabricated domestic violence, criminal sexual conduct, domestic assault, stalking, and other similar offenses are frequently fabricated when there is a dispute regarding child custody, visitation, possession of a home or house, and disputes regarding the division of marital property and assets.
Immigration Consequence of a Domestic Violence Plea or Conviction
Persons that are not citizens of the United States need to be cautious when faced with domestic violence or domestic assault allegations. This type of offense can lead to removal proceedings and deportation in some instances. MCL 769.4a will NOT protect aliens facing potential immigration consequences based upon domestic violence allegations – it is still considered a conviction for immigration purposes. It is remarkable how many criminal defense attorneys are unaware that a plea of guilty or no contest taken under advisement and eventually dismissed, is still a conviction as far as an immigration court is concerned. A skilled and savvy, aggressive domestic violence attorney can help you avoid potential immigration consequences like deportation or inadmissibility.
Personal Bond or Personal Recognizance Bond is the Goal of an Aggressive Domestic Violence Attorney
A court can order several bail or bond conditions relating to domestic violence or domestic assault allegations that are unpleasant, burdensome, and expensive. The possible bond conditions may include:
- no contact with the complaining witness,
- no contact with your children, no contact with a marital residence or other property (even if the Defendant is the owner or leaser of the residence),
- tether (satellite, GPS, or alcohol),
- substance abuse testing,
- substance abuse counseling,
- monitoring by pretrial services or probation,
- inability to possess a firearm or dangerous weapon (an oftentimes an order requiring the defendant to surrender firearms to the local police for destruction),
- domestic violence therapy,
- anger management counseling, and much more.
A retained lawyer can help you get a personal bond. A personal bond is a bond where no money is posted, and there is only a promise of the defendant to appear in court and abide by bond conditions.
Domestic Violence Probation Conditions
The Court can also order burdensome probationary conditions when a defendant is convicted of domestic violence or domestic assault-related offense such as (but not limited to): no contact with the complaining witness, cannot go to the residence of the complaining witness (even if the Defendant is the owner or leaser of the residence), tether, domestic violence counseling, anger management counseling, substance abuse testing, substance abuse counseling, community service, monitoring by probation, house arrest, payment of fines and costs, inability to possess a firearm or dangerous weapon, and much more.
The maximum term of probation for misdemeanor domestic violence is two years, and the maximum for a felony charge is five years. The longest sentences and most stringent probations are often given in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, and throughout Southeastern Michigan. Respected and aggressive domestic violence attorneys will persuasively advocate for a sentence that does not set up the defendant for failure. The attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have had decades of success convincing judges to sentence their clients with reasonable, tailored terms and conditions of probation.
Aggressive Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys
An individual accused of a domestic violence-related offense should immediately hire an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney to assist them. As noted, the consequences of such a conviction can affect that person’s freedom, reputation, employment, and relationship with their family and children.
If you are accused of domestic assault or charged with a domestic violence-related offense, please do not hesitate to call one of the most experienced, zealous Michigan domestic violence attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.