Domestic Violence Charges in Oakland County Require an 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 in Oakland County mean that someone has to go to jail once there is an accusation of domestic violence. Once that happens, the consequences can be life-changing tragically. Prosecutors and judges take domestic violence charges in Oakland County seriously; you must have a lawyer who 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’s domestic violence cases 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. 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.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence or domestic abuse is not what most people think. For a conviction for domestic violence, there does not have to be an injury or even physical contact. If someone is facing domestic violence charges in Oakland County, the prosecutor is required to prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the defendant assaulted or assaulted and battered the alleged victim (an assault doesn’t require touching or physical contact, only the credible threat of physical contact).
- The prosecutor must also show that the defendant generally intended to touch the alleged victim or cause that person to reasonably fear being touched.
- If the allegation is an assault without a battery (touching), the defendant must have at least had the ability to commit a battery.
- The alleged victim is the defendant’s spouse, a former spouse, a person with a child in common with the defendant, a person who lives or lived with the defendant, or someone who dated the defendant.
The Danger of False Accusations of Domestic Violence in Oakland County
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. When someone is falsely accused of domestic violence, every part of their lives might be upended. False allegations can cause a person to lose employment, money, or custody rights in a divorce, be ineligible for a promotion, lose a professional license, or suffer immigration consequences such as deportation.
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 deliberate 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 that may be difficult to combat. A raised voice, a raised hand, or any gesture interpreted as threatening may be used to claim that domestic abuse has occurred. False allegations of domestic violence in Oakland County are made for any of the following reasons:
- to punish or harm a parent, spouse, or sibling,
- to gain leverage in a divorce, child custody dispute, or lawsuit,
- to get revenge for infidelity, perceived disrespect, or financial disagreements,
- to ruin the reputation or employability of a spouse or domestic partner, or
- because someone is evil and wants to harm a spouse, child, sibling, roommate, or person they are dating.
Anyone who falsely accuses someone of domestic violence must be held accountable for their actions, including but not limited to getting reported for filing a false police report. If you or someone you love faces false accusations, they should immediately contact an experienced Oakland County domestic violence lawyer to ensure the protection of their rights.
Civil and Criminal Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
Allegations of domestic abuse in Oakland County may have 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. Here are the penalties you need to know:
- Domestic Violence – First Offense Misdemeanor – 93 days in jail.
- Domestic Violence – Second Offense Misdemeanor – Up to one year in jail.
- Domestic Violence – Third Offense Felony – Up to five (5) years in prison.
- Aggravated Domestic Violence (DV with a serious injury) – One-year misdemeanor.
- Domestic Violence with a Dangerous Weapon – Up to four (4) years.
- Domestic Strangulation – Felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
- Domestic Sexual Assault – Felony punishable, depending on the circumstances, up to life in prison.
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 a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence.
Misdemeanor probation can be as long as two (2) years. A judge can order up to five (5) years of felony probation. Probation conditions might include the following terms and conditions:
- anger management counseling,
- therapy and domestic violence educational programs,
- regular reporting,
- curfew and travel restrictions,
- restrictions on civil rights, such as voting and firearm rights,
- drug/alcohol testing,
- no-contact orders and restraining orders, and
- anything else a judge might imagine.
Presumption for Custody
Most states carry a statutory presumption that if domestic abuse has occurred, the perpetrator 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 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 will 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, 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 occurred, 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 defendants 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 and 46 weeks and require the defendant to admit 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. The prosecutor often 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 is adamant there was no assault. If the complainant does not want to pursue charges, the prosecution can proceed and almost surely will. 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 a non-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 regarded as 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 can culminate in one moment of heated conflict — and then the police are called. Alternatively, 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. Through this work, we develop many ways to challenge the accuser’s truthfulness and reasonableness.
Pre-Trial Investigations and Consultation for Domestic Violence Allegations
Some unsavory divorce and family law lawyers prompt their clients to report false domestic violence allegations or exaggerate or dramatize a domestic dispute to gain an advantage in court or settlement negotiations. Before or as soon as law enforcement is involved, it is essential to consult with an Oakland County defense lawyer immediately and on a pre-charge basis! People facing domestic violence allegations should never speak for themselves because, under Miranda, anything they say “can and will” be used against them. Talking with the police is almost always a dire mistake because the officers and detectives are NOT seeking to find the truth; they ARE using their training and experience to build a case. A family law lawyer is not qualified to intervene on a pre-charge basis, and their potential to be ineffective is too great to risk. The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has helped thousands of clients facing domestic violence or spousal abuse allegations on a pre-charge basis and in court. They have the influence, skill, and experience to intervene and potentially help clients avoid formal charges before a case gets to court.
What qualities should I look for in a lawyer to help with Oakland County domestic violence charges?
Defending against domestic violence charges in Oakland County, Michigan, requires a skilled and experienced lawyer. You can expect the following qualities from the Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.
- Experience in Domestic Violence Cases: Our attorneys have decades of experience representing thousands of clients facing domestic violence charges. We are familiar with the local laws, court procedures, and most effective defenses applicable to these charges in Oakland County.
- Local Knowledge: An attorney with experience practicing in Oakland County will have a valuable understanding of the local court system, judges, and prosecutors, which can be crucial for building a solid defense. Our firm has focused on representing clients in our home county for over 30 years.
- Strong Communication Skills: The best domestic violence defense lawyers are excellent communicators, able to clearly explain the legal process, potential outcomes, and the details of your case. They should also be skilled in effectively arguing your case and negotiating out of court.
- Reputation: Our team is exclusively comprised of attorneys with good reputations in the Oakland County courts. Each of the firm’s lawyers has multiple positive reviews from past clients and respect from peers, judges, and prosecutors.
- Dedication to Clients: Another quality that sets LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. apart from other lawyers and firms is our tenacious dedication and loyalty to our clients. We will put in the necessary time and effort to build a robust and fearless defense on your behalf.
- Availability: Our team is readily available to answer your questions, address your concerns, and keep you updated on the progress of your case. The benefit of hiring a law firm utilizing a team approach is that you always have someone knowledgeable about your case to talk with.
- Resourcefulness: Because our firm is comprised of multiple high-level criminal defense lawyers, we have access to and can effectively utilize various resources, such as top expert witnesses and private investigators, to strengthen your defense.
- Integrity: It’s crucial to have an attorney who operates with a high level of integrity, providing honest advice and maintaining confidentiality. Our attorneys have a well-known reputation for integrity, honesty, and zealous advocacy.
- Negotiation Skills: Sometimes, the best outcome may be reached through negotiation rather than trial. Our attorneys have strong negotiation skills to work towards a favorable resolution, such as reduced charges, dismissals, and sentencing options as alternatives to incarceration.
- Trial Experience: If your case goes to trial, you’ll want an attorney with extensive trial experience, capable of effectively presenting your case and challenging the prosecution’s evidence. We’ve successfully conducted hundreds of bench and jury trials involving various assault-type allegations.
Top Lawyers Achieve the Best Results for Domestic Violence
If you are charged with or even accused of domestic violence in Oakland County, LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. can help you. Even an accusation of domestic violence in Oakland County can be life-changing tragically. In countless cases, clients have hired our firm on a pre-charge basis, and we have helped them avoid being criminally charged. Many allegations are outright false, exaggerated, or dramatized. A great domestic violence defense lawyer will work aggressively and effectively to demonstrate to law enforcement why charges should not be authorized. If charges are filed, a top lawyer will give the client their best chance of avoiding a conviction and jail. In every case, obtaining a dismissal of domestic violence charges is LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.’s top priority when possible.
Using a unique team approach, the Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. builds a solid, zealous defense to protect their clients. We attack domestic violence allegations using facts, law, the constitution, and equitable mitigating factors. Every case is defensible on some level. Examples of what we fight for include the following:
- prevent charges from being filed,
- prevent or terminate protective orders,
- prevent our clients from forced removal from their homes,
- protect our client’s reputation,
- protect our client’s rights to their children, and
- fight to avoid a conviction.
Your Best Defense Against 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 face a false accusation of harming 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 an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.