Charged With Domestic Violence – There is Hope
If you are accused of domestic assault or domestic violence, do not panic. There are many effective defenses available to these charges and a skilled lawyer can seek a charge reduction or dismissal.
Misdemeanor and Felony Domestic Violence Allegations
The charge of domestic violence is serious and can carry a stigma that will affect the accused for the rest of their life. Individuals being accused of domestic violence need to understand the severity of their case, what the accusations are, and that they are strongly advised to retain the immediate help of a top Michigan Domestic Violence Lawyer to assist them in their defense.
As you read the following helpful information, please know that if you decide you want to speak personally with an experienced, effective domestic violence defense attorney, you can fill out a Request for Assistance Form 24-hours per day, seven days per week. An experienced criminal attorney will promptly contact you, or you can call Michigan’s Premier Domestic Violence Lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. at (248) 263-6800 now.
“What is the first thing I should do if I’m charged with domestic violence?”
Domestic violence accusations can occur among all ages, races, genders, and social classes. An alleged assault is called “domestic violence” when the defendant and the complainant are spouses or former spouses, domestic partners living together or apart, a dating or separated couple, or parents and children. There are a number of offenses that fall in the domestic violence or domestic assault category. These include physical or sexual assault, battery, false imprisonment, emotional abuse, stalking, intimidation, jealousy, possessiveness, controlling behavior, forced isolation, and economic abuse.
For those charged with or are accused of domestic violence, immediate action, and aggressive defense are necessary to protect their rights.
Even less severe domestic violence offenses come with the possibility of severe penalties, as judges have a tremendous amount of discretion when determining the punishment in a domestic violence case. The only choice is to retain the services of an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney who has compassion for the situation, extensive background defending domestic violence cases, and is determined to achieve the best possible results. Proper counsel may defeat the charges entirely or minimize the punishment received. At LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., our highest priority is to achieve a dismissal of all charges when possible.
Dropping Domestic Violence Charges
Once an individual has been charged with domestic violence or domestic assault in Michigan, they cannot simply walk away from the situation, even if the alleged victim decides they want to drop the charges. As the premier domestic violence attorneys in Michigan, we are frequently asked, “what if she wants to drop the charges?” The truth is that only the prosecuting attorney has the authority to drop domestic violence charges. In almost all cases, the prosecutor will not dismiss the case even if the alleged victim begs to have the charges dismissed. The desire by the alleged victim to drop the charges is often discounted because it is assumed that the victim fears a criminal trial will put them at risk for violence or abuse in the future by the accused or that the victim is financially dependent on the defendant and doesn’t want to jeopardize their job or source of income. In some cases, a person who is not a United States Citizen may face deportation due to a domestic violence conviction, and a complainant may not want their spouse removed.
An experienced criminal defense attorney is needed to aggressively defend the individual charged with domestic violence, keep the charges off their record, and keep the accused out of jail. Domestic violence prosecutors routinely seek jail, even on a first offense for domestic violence. It is necessary that a defense attorney do everything humanly possible to keep their client out of jail and conviction-free if possible.
Going to Trial for Domestic Violence in Michigan
Domestic violence accusations are frequently falsely reported to gain an advantage in divorce, custody disputes, and disputes over possession of a home. These accusations, even when false, are very powerful because police are required to make an arrest when this type of crime is reported. These crimes are almost always “he-said, she-said” and with a total lack of physical evidence, which makes false accusations particularly troubling. Only an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the intricacies of Michigan domestic violence laws can find the strategies to possibly prevent a conviction in a criminal trial, negotiate a plea bargain, or seek dismissal in the case of a false or exaggerated claim. The right defense attorney will understand the strengths and weaknesses of each case and be able to provide the greatest defense possible in a domestic violence charge.
For first-time domestic violence charges, it may be possible for the defense attorney to negotiate an agreement that ensures there will be no conviction on the accused’s record. If, however, a trial becomes necessary, or if this is not a first-time domestic violence charge, the accused can expect that the case will be more harshly prosecuted. Often, the accused is not the only person in the situation who has done something wrong or engaged in criminal or violent behavior.
Evidence Presented at Trial
It is critical to preserve all possible evidence in criminal trials for domestic violence cases before that information is destroyed. This can include 911 tapes, witness statements, police dispatch tapes, or eyewitness statements. One small piece of evidence that discredits the accuser or sheds light on an inconsistency can mean the difference between a conviction and a dismissal for the accused.
A great criminal defense attorney will work closely with the accused to document all critical details and ensure that necessary, pertinent evidence be preserved and made available for the trial. It is critical that you hire a Michigan domestic violence lawyer who has a very detailed knowledge of the court system, relationships with judges and prosecutors, and a great understanding of what it takes to preserve crucial evidence, prepare a successful case, and protect the rights of the accused. The most important qualification of a domestic violence lawyer is someone who is not afraid to win!
Sentencing for Michigan DV Charges
There are two types of misdemeanor domestic violence in Michigan: (1) domestic assault and (2) aggravated domestic assault. In the former, there is no injury or physical contact necessary to press charges; to qualify for the aggravated charge, the alleged victim must receive a serious injury requiring medical attention.
In a domestic assault, a first or second conviction is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by jail time and/or a fine. A third conviction will be classified as a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison, up to 5 years probation and/or a fine.
In aggravated domestic assault, a first conviction is considered a misdemeanor, while a second conviction is classified as a felony. Both are punishable by jail time and/or a fine. Felony domestic violence or aggravated domestic violence can carry up to 5 years of probation and prison time in the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Any conviction in a Michigan domestic violence case may result in severe penalties and is likely to come with a probation sentence of anywhere from up to two years to five years. Most judges require anger management therapy, domestic violence counseling, attendance at AA, alcohol or drug testing, and community service. The defendant forced to attend a domestic violence therapy program is in for a rude awakening. “Patients” in these programs are treated like garbage, demeaned, humiliated, and degraded. Working with a highly rated, effective criminal defense attorney familiar with the Michigan courts and judges can help lessen the punishment for one accused of domestic violence.
A “no-contact” provision can be imposed on the accused during a pending criminal trial for a domestic violence charge. This bond condition means that a defendant cannot personally, or via a third party, contact, call, or write to the alleged victim – or any related parties deemed as “no contact” by the judge – in any way, shape, or form for the duration of the criminal case. Again, this is another avenue used by alleged victims to harass a defendant further. False accusations are generally assumed by prosecutors and judges to be accurate and can result in bond revocation and incarceration pending trial. A no-contact provision can also be imposed during sentencing.
Probation Violations on Domestic Violence Cases
Another way defendants are frequently harassed and abused by complainants and over-zealous probation officers in domestic violence cases is through allegations of violations of probation conditions. These allegations are particularly serious because probation violations frequently result in jail or prison time. In those cases where a defendant had their case taken under advisement pursuant to the domestic violence statute (MCL 769.4a), these violations often result in a conviction entering where a plea bargain otherwise prevented a conviction. The domestic violence attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are extremely adept at handling probation violations, and we will find a way to help you no matter how serious the allegations or how tough the judge is assigned to your case.
Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
The attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience and an unparalleled track record of success. We have represented countless clients charged with domestic violence in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, and throughout Southeastern Michigan.
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.