Domestic Violence is Often Referred to as Domestic Abuse

Prosecutors and judges tend to believe domestic violence allegations and disbelieve anything the defendant says. Essentially, there is a presumption of guilt and an assumption that the defendant is dangerous.

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Domestic Violence Situations are More Complex Than They Might Seem

Domestic violence incidents in Michigan are typically complicated and entangled, with conflicting accounts of what happened between two people. Too often, courts assume that the most obvious answer is correct, leading to innocent folks paying for crimes they never committed. Due to bias or a rush to judgment, we see accused individuals overcharged for their crimes and slapped with prison time that is much too aggressive, given how there are generally two sides to every story. Domestic violence can involve allegations of assault between spouses, siblings, roommates, parents, children, and even boyfriends and girlfriends.

Even without a conviction, domestic violence charges can result in serious, life-altering consequences for you, your employment, child custody, civil liberties (such as firearm possession), and family relationships. If you face domestic violence accusations, hiring experienced and aggressive attorneys is essential to help you strategize moving forward. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN P.L.L.C. is one of Michigan’s most experienced firms, with a proven track record of successfully defending individuals accused of domestic violence.

What makes domestic abuse cases complicated?

When many of us hear the words “spousal abuse” or “domestic violence,” we tend to rush to judgment, painting the accused individual as an abusive monster deserving of the maximum penalty. In domestic violence cases especially, it can be difficult for men to get fair treatment since it comes down to “he says, she says” in many cases. Without a third-party witness to the violence and abuse, courts often make assumptions with no other evidence to consider. Additionally, false reporting is all too common, especially when one parent attempts to gain sole custody over the other or more money in a divorce settlement.

Domestic Violence in Michigan

Will I serve prison time for an incident if convicted of domestic violence?

Mandated prison time is less likely when represented by a reputable attorney with years of experience navigating the ins and outs of domestic violence cases. Often, clients erroneously believe that nonviolent incidents, such as those incidents without injuries, will not result in jail time. Hiring an influential attorney for domestic violence charges might result in a lesser offense or lenient sentence, including community service, probation, anger management, and counseling. In cases where the accused is innocent, LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. fight for dismissal of all charges!

Is hiring an attorney worth it?

A domestic violence charge will impact every aspect of your professional and personal life. The law may consider you innocent until proven guilty, but you are still susceptible to unfair treatment and assumptions. Hiring an experienced law firm to represent you will considerably impact your future. Many court-appointed lawyers are conscientious; however, a court-appointed lawyer will not meet you until the hearing date, and there will be no opportunity for preparation. In most cases, careful and crafty preparation can set up a case for a dismissal or reduced charges instead of a conviction that would otherwise have occurred.

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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Domestic Violence Charges in Michigan

What constitutes domestic violence in Michigan? Domestic violence is a physical assault or physical harm, or the threat of physical harm, committed by a family, household member, or person in a dating relationship (or former dating relationship) against another.

What are the penalties for a domestic violence conviction?

  • First offense: A first-offense DV carries up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
  • Second offense: Up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.
  • Third (and subsequent) offenses: Considered a felony, with potential imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine up to $5,000.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony charge for domestic violence? Misdemeanor offenses carry maximum sentences of either 93 days or one year, depending on the defendant’s prior record and if there was an injury. In Michigan, a third or subsequent domestic violence offense is considered a felony, which carries up to five (5) years in prison and up to five (5) years of probation.

How can a domestic violence charge affect my child custody or visitation rights? A conviction can adversely affect custody and visitation rights. Judges consider the child’s best interests, and a history of violence can be a factor. A domestic violence conviction can be so instrumental in a child custody dispute that people sometimes falsely report an assault to gain an advantage in family court litigation.

Can the victim drop the charges against me? No, once charges are filed, it’s up to the prosecutor to decide whether to proceed. However, a victim’s reluctance to cooperate might influence the prosecutor’s decision.

What defenses are available to someone charged with DV in Michigan? Potential defenses to domestic violence charges include self-defense, defense of others, false allegations, lack of intent, or alibi. Additionally, defendants without a legal or factual defense can often get a lenient plea bargain if their lawyer persuasively argues mitigating and equitable factors justifying a reduced charge and lenient sentence.

Will I have to attend anger management or other counseling programs? As a condition of probation or a plea agreement, defendants may be required to participate in counseling or anger management programs. Depending on the circumstances, it is sometimes in the defendant’s best interest to engage in counseling immediately in an effort to prove to the prosecutor and judge their offense is an aberration that is unlikely to reoccur.

Can I contact the alleged victim while the case is pending? Often, a no-contact order is issued as a condition of bond, prohibiting contact. Violating this can lead to additional charges.

What is a “no-contact” order, and how is it different from a restraining order? Both “no contact” and restraining orders prevent contact with the protected individual. However, a no-contact order is typically issued in criminal cases, while restraining orders are civil orders.

Will a conviction affect my right to own or possess firearms? Yes, federal law prohibits those convicted of misdemeanor or felony domestic violence from possessing firearms.

How will a conviction impact my employment prospects? A conviction can limit employment opportunities, especially in fields that require background checks or professional licensing. It might be challenging to obtain employment or pass an interview because some people look down on and do not want to be associated with someone convicted of domestic violence.

Can I get the charge expunged from my record in the future? Michigan has provisions for expunging domestic violence convictions, but eligibility depends on specific criteria, including the nature of the crime and the individual’s overall criminal record. Judges are often reluctant to grant an expungement of domestic violence charges. Furthermore, prosecutors and victims often object to setting aside these convictions.

How does the legal process work? Understanding the steps from arraignment to potential trial can be crucial. After an arrest, there’s an arraignment, bond determination, pre-trial conferences, potential plea negotiations, and possibly a trial.

Should I hire an attorney? Yes, it is in your best interest to hire a qualified defense lawyer right away for domestic violence charges in Michigan. Legal representation can be crucial in navigating the complexities of the legal system and ensuring one’s rights are protected. A person’s best hope of achieving a favorable outcome is working with a reputable, credible, and experienced criminal defense lawyer.

What evidence will be used against me? Evidence can include physical evidence, photos, witness testimonies, the victim’s statement, and any statements the defendant made.

What are the costs associated with fighting a domestic violence charge? Costs vary depending on attorney fees, court costs, fines, and other related expenses. Depending on the case, a lawyer might feel it is in their client’s best interest to hire experts or investigators. Costs are always the client’s responsibility, even with retained legal counsel. It is best to set up a free consultation with a qualified defense lawyer to get additional information regarding attorney fees.

What are the potential consequences if I plead guilty versus going to trial? Pleading guilty, instead of going to trial, might result in a plea bargain for a lenient sentence or reduced charges in exchange for avoiding trial. However, it also means admitting guilt or pleading “no contest.” A trial offers a chance of acquittal but carries the risk of maximum penalties if convicted.

Can I get a personal protection order (PPO) against the alleged victim? Yes, you might be able to obtain a PPO if you can demonstrate a credible threat of harm from the alleged victim; however, a judge will be very reluctant to grant this type of relief without strong, credible evidence of potential harm.

How can I avoid facing these charges again in the future? Attend counseling, form positive, healthy relationships, adhere to all court orders, and develop conflict resolution strategies to avoid situations that may escalate to violence.

What impact will this charge have on my professional licenses or certifications? Depending on the profession, a domestic violence conviction in Michigan can result in collateral consequences, such as suspension or revocation of licenses or certifications.

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The Premier Domestic Violence Defense Team in Michigan

The defense team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has decades of experience winning misdemeanor and felony domestic violence cases throughout Michigan. If you are accused of domestic violence, spousal abuse, or domestic abuse, call us for a free consultation with an experienced defense attorney. We will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and address your concerns. We will not let you down if you trust us with your representation.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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