How Much Jail Time Will I Get for Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence allegations must be taken very seriously and often result in jail. With the right defense, jail can be avoided in most cases.
Can I Avoid Jail Time for Domestic Violence?
Prosecutors, police officers, and judges will relentlessly push for your conviction. Once you’ve been charged with domestic violence, you are most undoubtedly concerned and thinking, “How much jail time will I get for domestic violence?” The good news is that there is no mandatory jail sentence for a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. With top-notch legal representation, someone facing these charges can and should avoid time behind bars. If you want to avoid jail or prison, this blog contains the information you need to know.
Domestic Violence Defined
Our domestic violence defense lawyers are often asked, “How Much Jail Time Will I Get for Domestic Violence?” Before any potential punishment or specific sentence can be estimated, it must first be determined if an assault occurred or whether a defendant is likely to be convicted. In many domestic violence cases, an experienced, savvy lawyer can achieve a resolution without a conviction or jail time.
Domestic violence is an assaultive crime between family members, people in a romantic relationship, or residents of the same home. Typically, domestic violence or domestic assault occurs when an assault or assault and battery is alleged. There does not need to be an injury or even touching to be charged with domestic violence. Aggravated domestic violence is more severe and involves assault and battery with an injury.
Typical relationships that can result in a domestic violence charge, unlike an ordinary assault misdemeanor, include spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, ex-partners, roommates, parents, and children.
First Order of Business – Stay Out of Jail!
The first court date on domestic violence charges is called the “arraignment.” At the arraignment, the judge (1) advises the accused of the charges, (2) accepts a plea (usually “not guilty”), and (3) sets the defendant’s bond. The bond is two things:
- the amount of money the defendant must post with the court or jail to secure their release from custody while the case is litigated, and
- various conditions and orders the defendant must obey while the case is pending, such as restraining orders, curfews, prohibition against possession of firearms, therapy, tether, abstinence from drugs/alcohol, and travel restrictions.
It is vital that anyone facing an arraignment appear with a capable, respected defense lawyer who can effectively negotiate for the lowest possible bond and the least terms and conditions. A defendant unable to post bond will lose their freedom, employment, ability to defend themselves, and more. If the just orders complex and onerous terms and conditions of the bond, a defendant can be set up for failure right from the start of the case. Top defense lawyers ensure the lowest possible bond. The defense lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. can often secure a “personal bond” that doesn’t require any deposit of money.
Possible Punishments for Domestic Violence
If you are accused of Domestic Violence, the possible punishment depends on the severity of the allegations and whether there are any prior convictions. It is essential to understand that the sentence could include incarceration, years of probation, a financial penalty, etc. For example, if you are charged with a first offense of domestic assault, the offense is a misdemeanor that could result in up to 93 days in jail and a $500.00 fine. If you are accused of domestic violence – second offense, there is a possibility of up to one year in jail and a $100,000 fine. A third offense is a felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and a $2,500.00 fine. Additionally, the judge can order you to serve up to two years on probation for a misdemeanor and up to five years for a felony domestic conviction.
A first offense of Aggravated Domestic Assault carries up to one year in jail, two years of probation, and a $1,000 fine. If you are charged with this offense twice, there is a possibility of up to two (2) years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine.
If the offense involves a weapon, this offense is called “Felonious Assault,” and the punishment will be up to four (4) years in prison.
“What type of defense lawyer gives me the best chance of staying out of jail on a domestic violence charge?”
The most effective type of criminal defense lawyer for helping a client stay out of jail on a domestic violence charge is one with specialized expertise in domestic violence cases, such as the defense lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. Our attorneys possess a deep understanding of the complexities and nuances involved in such cases. They are well-versed in the relevant laws, legal strategies, and potential defenses specific to domestic violence charges in Michigan and have a track record of successfully keeping their clients out of jail.
A skilled domestic violence defense lawyer will work closely with their client to build a strong defense strategy. This may involve investigating the circumstances of the alleged incident, gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and assessing the accuser’s credibility. They will also explore potential legal defenses, such as self-defense, false accusations, lack of evidence, or mitigating factors that could lead to reduced charges or penalties.
Additionally, an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer will be knowledgeable about the potential consequences of a domestic violence conviction, including restraining orders, probation, mandatory counseling, and the impact on the client’s future, such as employment, immigration, and custody issues. They will use this knowledge to negotiate with prosecutors for favorable plea deals or, if necessary, vigorously advocate for their client in court or at trial.
Ultimately, the best domestic violence defense lawyer combines legal expertise with empathy and a commitment to protecting their client’s rights, ensuring a fair trial, and minimizing the risk of incarceration. This is the level of service you can expect from the Defense Team at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.
How Top Lawyers Help Clients Avoid Jail
The best criminal defense lawyers employ various strategies to help clients avoid jail for domestic violence convictions, with the ultimate goal of achieving the most favorable outcome. Here are some common approaches they may use:
Skilled defense attorneys thoroughly review all the evidence in the case, looking for weaknesses or inconsistencies. Aggressive defense lawyers will challenge the credibility of witnesses, including the alleged victim, and question the validity of the evidence presented by the prosecution.
If applicable, the defense attorney may argue that the client acted in self-defense or defense of others. Someone acts in self-defense if they act based on a reasonable response to a perceived threat. If the defendant asserts self-defense, the prosecution must disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
The attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. routinely file motions to suppress evidence obtained illegally or in violation of the defendant’s rights. If successful, suppression motions could weaken the prosecution’s case and lead to a dismissal or reduction of charges.
Pretrial Diversion Programs
In some cases, defense attorneys can advocate for their clients to participate in pretrial diversion programs, often involving counseling, anger management, or rehabilitation. Successful completion of these programs can lead to charges being dropped or reduced.
Character References and Mitigation
Attorneys may present character references and mitigating factors to the court, such as the defendant’s remorse, willingness to seek therapy, and involvement in community service, to argue for leniency in sentencing. Our job is to persuade judges to consider rehabilitation instead of punishment.
Lawyers may consult with expert witnesses, such as psychologists or forensic experts, to provide testimony that supports the defense’s position and challenges the prosecution’s case. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has access to and a working relationship with the best of the best experts in the United States.
Alternative Sentencing Options
Defense attorneys may propose alternative sentencing options to incarceration, such as house arrest, electronic monitoring, or supervised probation. Our clients can rest assured that they will benefit from a team of attorneys collaborating to achieve the best possible result.
Familiarity with Local Laws
The best defense lawyers are well-versed in local laws, procedures, and the tendencies of judges and prosecutors, allowing them to tailor their strategies effectively to the specific jurisdiction. The benefit of hiring a top-tier criminal defense law firm is that we collectively have the contacts and familiarity necessary to give our clients every possible advantage in and out of court.
Negotiating Plea Bargains
Defense lawyers often negotiate with the prosecution to reach a plea bargain that reduces or eliminates jail time. This can involve agreeing to a lesser charge or alternative sentencing options, such as probation, counseling, or community service. Top defense attorneys, such as those with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., have the skill, reputation, and credibility to make things happen that other lawyers cannot accomplish.
It’s important to note that each case is unique, and the strategies employed by top-tier defense lawyers will vary depending on the circumstances. The goal is to secure the best possible outcome for the client, which may include avoiding jail time, minimizing penalties, or even having the charges dropped altogether.
Alternatives to Jail Time for Domestic Violence
Now that you’ve read the above, you might think you will spend some time in jail and pay a lot of money out of your pocket to the court. There’s a strong possibility that a top domestic violence defense attorney can help you avoid jail altogether. In many cases, the defendant can avoid a conviction. It may seem too good to be true, but you should know that options such as probation, a reduced charge, deferral, and possibly dismissal may be available! When you have an attorney with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. in your corner, you don’t have to ask yourself, “How much jail time will I get for domestic violence?”
Why do judges consider jail time for domestic violence cases?
Judges are expected to make impartial and just decisions in all legal matters, including domestic violence cases. However, there are instances where it may appear that a judge has unfairly ordered jail time in such cases. It’s important to emphasize that these situations typically arise due to various factors and are not necessarily indicative of intentional bias.
One factor that can contribute to seemingly unfair decisions is the availability and quality of evidence. In some instances, a judge may opt for incarceration based on the limited information provided, potentially leading to outcomes that seem unjust. Another contributing factor could be the unintentional influence of personal biases or beliefs held by the judge. While judges are trained to be impartial, they are humans. They can sometimes be influenced by their own perspectives, inadvertently affecting their decisions, particularly when deciding whether to impose jail time for domestic violence convictions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Will I go to jail for a first-time domestic violence charge? The likelihood of jail time can vary based on the court, specific facts of the case, the defendant’s prior criminal history, and the severity of the offense. With many judges, a first-time misdemeanor domestic violence offense might result in probation, mandatory counseling, and other non-jail penalties. However, if there are aggravating factors, an aggressive complainant or prosecutor, or if the charge is a felony, jail or prison time is more likely.
How long could I be in jail for a domestic violence conviction? The length of jail or prison time varies greatly depending on whether the offense is classified as a misdemeanor, high-misdemeanor, or felony, the presence of any aggravating factors, and jurisdiction-specific sentencing guidelines. A first-offense DV is punishable by a maximum of 93 days and two years of probation.
Is it possible to reduce my domestic violence charge? A skilled, savvy defense attorney can negotiate a plea deal to reduce the charge, especially if it’s the accused’s first offense, there are evidentiary issues, or weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. However, the possibility and terms of such a reduction depend on the specifics of the case and the prosecutor’s stance. A respected, successful defense lawyer gives someone the best odds of reduced or dismissed charges because they are a credible threat to the prosecution’s case.
Will I get probation instead of jail time? Probation is a common alternative to jail time, especially for first-time offenders or less severe offenses. Conditions might include mandatory counseling, anger management classes, or staying away from the victim.
Can a victim drop domestic violence charges to prevent me from going to jail? While an alleged victim might express their desire not to press charges, the decision to prosecute or drop charges is up to the prosecutor. The government can proceed with the case even if the complainant is unwilling to testify.
What are the long-term consequences of a domestic violence conviction? A conviction can result in jail or prison time, fines, probation, and mandatory counseling. Additionally, it may affect future employment opportunities, the right to own firearms, child custody battles, and more.
Can I expunge a domestic violence conviction from my record? In Michigan, you may be able to expunge a domestic violence conviction after meeting certain criteria, like completing probation and not committing any new offenses. The law allows for the complainant and prosecutor to object. Because judges are sometimes reluctant to expunge domestic violence convictions, it is best to seek the advice and counsel of a respected criminal defense lawyer.
Can I get arrested for domestic violence without a warrant? Under Michigan law (MCL 764.15a), police officers can arrest someone for domestic violence without a warrant, regardless of whether the offense happened in the officer’s presence and if there is reasonable cause to believe the crime occurred.
What if my (spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, parent, child, etc…) doesn’t show up? Will the case get dismissed? Domestic violence cases are sometimes dismissed if the complainant doesn’t show up; however, many times, they are not. The complainant must only personally appear when subpoenaed or at trial. Prosecutors rarely subpoena the complainant for any hearing other than trial. If the complainant is subpoenaed and fails to appear at trial, the prosecutor can request a material witness warrant, an adjournment, or dismissal without prejudice. A dismissal without prejudice means the case can be brought back anytime. If a material witness warrant is issued, the complainant can be arrested and jailed until they agree to testify.
Can a domestic violence attorney help me avoid jail time? Yes! A skilled, retained domestic violence defense attorney can frequently help their client avoid jail time. A top lawyer will know the judge and what steps are best to persuade them to avoid incarceration. Although appointed attorneys can be helpful, a retained lawyer will have the time, resources, and motivation to explore every alternative to jail.
How long is the typical jail sentence for a domestic violence conviction? There is no typical jail sentence. Every judge, case, prosecutor, defense lawyer, and circumstance is different. For example, some judges are known for imposing harsh sentences, and others have a lenient reputation. Strategies to reduce jail time include seeking dismissal, a plea bargain, and a sentence agreement. As previously stated, an experienced defense lawyer will take the appropriate steps to ensure their client avoids jail time.
Experienced and Effective Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers
The prestigious legal team at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. specializes in the criminal defense of charges such as Domestic Violence. Our exceptionally qualified attorneys know how to protect you best and get your side of the story heard. We will listen when others will not. If you’re worried about jail time for a Domestic Violence charge, call us today for a free consultation, and we will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and address your concerns. If you trust us with your representation, we will find a way to help you.
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.
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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.