Domestic Violence Charges in Oakland County Require Extraordinary Defense
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 once someone is accused in Oakland County, someone has to go to jail. Once that happens the consequences can be life changing in a tragic way.
Despite the best of intentions, Oakland County and the Oakland County Prosecutor’s efforts to curb domestic violence are not working. Current solutions not only fail to reduce Oakland County domestic violence, but also create other severe problems. Families are being undermined and children 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.
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 handles the issue has created an even greater danger related to false allegations of abuse. 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.
One of the major catalysts for this abuse of the system is the broad definition that exists for 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 had or any gesture that is interpreted as threatening may be used to claim that domestic abuse has occurred.
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 and more.
The significance of a judicial finding that domestic abuse has occurred is profound. In the context of criminal cases, incarceration, extensive domestic violence counseling and expensive fines and costs may be imposed. “No contact” orders entered which may include requiring the defendant to vacate the family residence or to have no contact between a parent and his or her children. In the civil and criminal context, including divorce, custody proceedings and domestic violence proceedings, there are additional consequences that are equally severe:
Presumption for Custody
Most states carry a statutory presumption that in the event domestic abuse has occurred, the perpetrator of that abuse should not be awarded physical placement or physical custody.
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 or an order against committing any acts of domestic abuse against the victim (unfortunately, one instance of disagreement can result in a false allegation of another incidence of assaultive conduct).
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 contact is initiated by the victim or not, 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.
Exclusive Use of Home
As a corollary to 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. Often, in the case of a no contact provision in a bond awarded at an arraignment on an Oakland County domestic violence charge, the court order will make allowances for law enforcement officer to accompany a party to the residence to supervise a one-time removal of limited personal belongings.
A domestic abuse restraining order will often also restrict the defendant’s contact with children who may have been exposed to the domestic abuse. This may result in no parenting time or supervised 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.
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 as a condition of normalizing contact with his children. Court ordered domestic violence therapy programs are often between 26 weeks and 46 weeks and require the defendant to admit that he or she is an abuser. Defendant’s in these programs are often treated like second-class-citizens and are subjected to verbal and emotional abuse by the therapists and program staff.
Restriction of Civil Liberties
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 for any purpose.
In cases where individuals who are not American citizens are accused in Oakland County of domestic violence, especially serious consequences must be considered. Under immigration laws, a domestic violence conviction is considered a crime of moral turpitude and can result in deportation.
Clearly, when false allegations of abuse are made, the stakes are very high.
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 who will represent and support you through this difficult and challenging emotional time.
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. Through this work we develop as many ways as we can to challenge the truthfulness and reasonableness of the accuser.
When you have LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. on your side, you can expect a team of domestic violence defense lawyers who will answer your questions thoroughly and patiently, who are available to you when you need us, and who will make you feel confident and secure every time you walk into the courthouse.
If you are accused of domestic violence in Oakland County, please do not hesitate to call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. and request a free consultation with a member of our domestic violence defense team at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and an attorney will promptly contact you. The Domestic Violence Defense Firm, LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., practices domestic violence defense law in Oakland County, Macomb County, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, Wayne County and throughout the State of Michigan.
Victims Cannot Drop Criminal Charges
Popular Misconception: The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office and the city and township attorneys in the multiple jurisdictions contained within Oakland County make the decision whether to charge and prosecute any criminal offense. While the prosecuting attorney’s office may take the accuser’s position into account, it doesn’t mean that the prosecutor will simply dismiss the case. Often, the prosecutor believes that the accuser is recanting because she is afraid, in need of financial support or fearful of breaking up a family, not because the accuser lied to the police. In many case, especially in Oakland County, the prosecutor will press on with a case even though there is no motivation for a complainant to recant and he or she is adamant that the assault did not take place, that the original allegation was done for an ulterior motive, or that the police officers manufactured a charge. This means that, if the complainant does not want to pursue charges, the prosecution can and almost surely will still proceed with the family violence charges. The prosecution can even force the complainant to testify if she does not want to.