Domestic Violence Charges in Oakland County Require Extraordinary Defense
Oakland County Judges and prosecutors treat those charged with domestic violence scornfully and with contempt. Only a top defense lawyer has the influence to turn the tables in your favor.
Oakland County Domestic Violence Charges and Defenses
When someone accuses another person of domestic violence in Oakland County, the response by the police, the Oakland County courts, and the local Oakland County community is swift and severe. Mandatory arrest laws mean that someone has to go to jail once someone is accused in Oakland County. Once that happens, the consequences can be life-changing in a tragic way. Domestic violence charges in Oakland County are taken seriously by prosecutors and judges; you have to have a lawyer that will do whatever it takes to obtain the best possible result.
Despite the best intentions, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s efforts to curb domestic violence are not working. Current solutions fail to reduce Oakland County domestic violence and create other severe problems. Families are undermined, and children are harmed and alienated from loving parents. Innocent Oakland County residents are penalized based on false accusations. And victims of violence are re-victimized by a rigid system that ignores their wishes and fails to consider what may be in their individual best interests.
The Danger of False Accusations of Domestic Violence in Oakland County
There is no question that domestic abuse is a significant problem in Oakland County. However, the way the Oakland County district and circuit court systems handle the issue has created an even greater danger of false abuse allegations. False allegations of domestic violence permeate divorce, legal separation, and custody proceedings and are often used as a strategy to seek an advantage in child custody cases. In fact, Oakland County divorce lawyers are notorious for advising clients to make false or exaggerated domestic violence allegations to gain an advantage in family law proceedings.
One of the major catalysts for the widespread abuse of the system is the broad definition of domestic abuse. Under most statutory schemes, domestic abuse means the intentional and unlawful infliction of physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the intentional and unlawful infliction of the fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault between family or household members, or a criminal sexual act, committed against a family or household member by another family or household member. “Fear of harm” is an extraordinarily subjective standard and one that may be very difficult to combat. A raised voice or a raised hand, or any gesture interpreted as threatening, may be used to claim that domestic abuse has occurred.
Civil and Criminal Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
Allegations of domestic abuse in Oakland County may have both civil and criminal consequences. In the civil context, an allegation of abuse may result in domestic abuse restraining orders, often called “Personal Protection Orders.” They may also have a criminal context related to assault, assault and battery, domestic violence charges, aggravated assault, criminal sexual assault, felonious assault, etc.
A first offense domestic violence conviction carries a maximum jail sentence of 93 days and up to 2 years of probation. If there is a prior conviction or injury, the maximum sentence is increased to 1 year in jail. A third offense is a felony and a punishment of up to 5 years in prison and up to 5 years of probation.
The significance of a judicial finding that domestic abuse has occurred is profound. In the context of criminal cases, judges frequently order incarceration, extensive domestic violence counseling, and expensive fines and costs. “No contact” orders might require the defendant to vacate the family residence or to have no contact between a parent and their children.
The federal government imposes a lifelong ban on firearm rights for anyone convicted of misdemeanor or felony domestic violence.
Presumption for Custody
Most states carry a statutory presumption that if domestic abuse has occurred, the perpetrator of that abuse should not be awarded physical placement or physical custody. At a minimum, the co-parent of a child can attempt to persuade a judge to reduce the accused’s time with their children or request supervised visitation.
Restraints on Abusive Behavior
An Oakland County domestic abuse restraining order or criminal bond will include a restraint precluding the defendant from having any contact with the complainant. Alternatively, courts grant restraining orders to prevent assaultive, controlling, threatening, or abusive conduct against the victim. Unfortunately, one instance of disagreement or conflict can result in a false allegation of a restraining order violation. Think about it: if the victim alleges the defendant threatened them, how ill the defendant prove the allegation is untruthful? The judge will presume the victim is honest.
No Contact & Criminal Violation
Where domestic abuse has been found to occur (by plea or conviction at trial), the Court will enter a restraining order prohibiting that person from contacting the victim directly or indirectly, whether through letters, e-mail, phone calls, or messages through third parties. Any violation of those restraining provisions, regardless of whether the victim initiates the contact, is a criminal bond or probation term violation or a civil violation of an order in a divorce case or PPO, or both, and may result in incarceration. If the complainant wants to have contact, the judge might grant or deny the request.
Exclusive Use of Home
As a result of the no contact provisions of a domestic abuse restraining order, defendants in Oakland County domestic violence cases are often excluded from the family residence regardless of whether the residence or household is jointly or solely owned or leased by the parties. Most judges will permit the accused to return to the marital home one time to remove personal belongings if accompanied by a police officer.
A domestic abuse restraining order will often also restrict the defendant’s contact with children who may have been exposed to domestic abuse. An allegation of abuse in the presence of minors may result in reduced or suspended parenting time. Furthermore, if it is alleged that the children were home or in the area where the alleged abuse took place, a notice from CPS (Child Protective Services) is often imminent. Domestic violence in the presence of children is considered child abuse and neglect by many judges and prosecutors.
Anger Management and Treatment
The Oakland County Court may also require a defendant to participate in a costly and time-consuming anger management program, chemical dependency treatment, and other therapies to normalize contact with their children. Court-ordered domestic violence therapy programs are often between 26 weeks and 46 weeks and require the defendant to admit that they are an abuser. Defendants in these programs are often treated as second-class citizens and are subjected to verbal and emotional abuse by the therapists and program staff.
Victims Cannot Drop Criminal Charges
The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office and the city and township attorneys in the multiple jurisdictions within Oakland County decide whether to charge and prosecute any criminal offense. The prosecuting attorney’s office will consider the accuser’s request for dismissal; however, charges are rarely dismissed. Often, the prosecutor believes that the accuser is recanting because they are afraid, need financial support, or fear breaking up a family. The prosecutor rarely believes the accuser initially lied to the police. In many cases, especially in Oakland County, the prosecutor will press on with a case even though the complainant has no apparent reason to recant and are adamant there was no assault. If the complainant does not want to pursue charges, the prosecution can and almost surely will still proceed with the charges. The prosecution can even force the complainant to testify if she does not want to or if they fail to show up for trial.
Clearly, when false allegations of abuse are made, the stakes are very high.
Restriction of Civil Liberties – Including Firearm Rights
Additionally, the entry of a domestic abuse restraining order or Oakland County domestic violence conviction may affect other civil liberties. For example, under the federal “Brady Bill,” a perpetrator of domestic abuse is precluded from owning or possessing a firearm. Someone with a domestic violence conviction is permanently barred from obtaining a concealed weapons permit (CPL).
Immigration Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction in Oakland County
Resident aliens, green card holders, and those in the U.S. on a visa, face particularly stiff collateral consequences if convicted of domestic violence. When someone who is not a United States citizen is accused in Oakland County of domestic violence, the person facing allegations must consider the potential for immigration consequences. Under immigration laws, a domestic violence conviction is considered a crime of moral turpitude and can result in deportation.
Fighting False Allegations of Domestic Violence
Fighting a false accusation in Oakland County requires a thorough understanding of why and how the allegations were made. Allegations of domestic violence don’t occur in a vacuum. People in familial or romantic relationships go through many trials and tribulations, which all come together in the one moment of heated conflict — and then the police are called. In the alternative, false allegations often result from external influences (divorce lawyers, family, friends, etc.) coming up with falsehoods to give one party an unfair advantage in other legal proceedings. Our team of defense attorneys takes a thorough relationship history from you, interviews witnesses, and works to understand and explain how this happened. We develop many ways to challenge the accuser’s truthfulness and reasonableness through this work.
Your Best Defense to Domestic Violence Charges in Oakland County
At LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., we understand the family and interpersonal dynamics that lead to false accusations and how to expose them as false accusations. We’ve worked with clients of all ages, professions, and lifestyles who find themselves facing a false accusation of bringing harm to someone they love. You can be confident that you will have a knowledgeable team of lawyers representing and supporting you through this challenging emotional time.
When you have LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. on your side, you can expect a team of domestic violence defense lawyers who will thoroughly answer your questions, be available to you as needed, and help you feel confident and secure when you walk into the courthouse.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. today. We will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and address your concerns. If there is a way to help you, we will find it.
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.