Have you been charged with domestic violence?
If you have been charged with domestic violence, you need an experienced domestic violence defense attorney working diligently on your behalf.
The term domestic violence conjures an image of an enraged alcoholic man physically beating his wife or children, or both. However, the State of Michigan sees domestic violence somewhat differently.
The laws surrounding domestic violence and its definition are meant to protect the scenario like the one suggested above. However, domestic violence can describe a range of behaviors that would ordinarily have another name and another set of legal charges. What sets domestic violence apart from other, identical crimes, is the nature of the relationship between the offender and the victim.
What Does Michigan Have To Say About Domestic Violence?
The State of Michigan created The Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Act and Board in 1978 to regulate the treatment of domestic violence better, provide for victims, and prevent domestic violence-related homicides and suicides.
In 2012, by executive order, the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board were created and put under the authority of the DVPT Board. This board is responsible for how domestic violence is defined, how policy around it is shaped, and we train our law enforcement officers to deal with domestic violence cases, and how state funding is applied to domestic and sexual abuse services in the State of Michigan.
The State of Michigan defines domestic violence primarily by whom it effects. Members of the same household, whether they are married or not, can commit domestic violence against each other. A man and his wife, his children, his parents or siblings fall under this heading. Live-in boyfriends and girlfriends, ex-spouses, those in same-sex relationships, and even roommates could be subject to a domestic assault charge.
A heated argument could become a domestic assault or domestic battery charge. However, domestic violence more typically encompasses a pattern of abuse perpetrated by one member of a household against another or against the rest of the household. The abuse may be verbal, sexual, physical or a combination of any of those. What makes an action count as domestic violence is that the actions perpetrated are seen by the victim – and ultimately by the State of Michigan – as a pattern and form of control.
The Many Forms of Domestic Violence
Because domestic violence could take many forms, a domestic violence charge could be a charge of simple assault, aggravated assault or one of several other types of charges:
- Sexual assault
- False imprisonment
- Homicide or Attempted Homicide
Any conduct toward a pregnant woman which results in the injury or death of the baby she’s carrying
Domestic Violence Behavior
Generally, here is how the State of Michigan defines violent domestic behavior:
- The act of causing or attempting to cause physical or mental harm to a family or household member.
- The act of placing a family or household member in fear of physical or mental harm.
- Forcing or attempting to force sexual activity on a household member using force, threatening to use force, or putting that member under duress.
- Perpetrating any behavior toward a family or household member that makes that person feel afraid, intimidated, threatened or harassed.
Legal Procedures Against the Abuser
Also, in any domestic violence case, the victim may seek legal help by utilizing any of the following legal procedures against their alleged abuser:
- Temporary Restraining Order – these are issued by a judge to keep the offender away from the victim temporarily, to force the offender to move to a different location.
- Permanent Restraining Order – only issued after a hearing or may be used as part of the offender’s sentence. These can last for an indefinite amount of time.
- Civil Lawsuit – If the criminal code in Michigan doesn’t account for some types of suffering and damage suffered by a victim of domestic violence, he or she can file a civil lawsuit against the offender to redress their losses.
- Custody Orders & Child Support – Victims can be ex-spouses. Especially if they share the same child or children with the offender. A victim may petition a judge to change either a custody or a child support order as part of a domestic violence case.
Michigan’s Stalking Laws may also be used in domestic violence cases to help alleged victims seek the legal aid they want.
Penalties For Domestic Assault in Michigan
Simple Domestic Assault:
To be charged with Domestic Assault, you do not need to have physically hurt someone. It is classified as a Misdemeanor. The penalty for a first-time or second-time Domestic Assault conviction may include jail time. Most likely, it will consist of probation for a period of time; up to two years or even five years. A judge may add anger management counseling to the sentence, as well as AA attendance, community service, and alcohol and drug testing.
A third conviction for Domestic Assault is classified as a Felony in the State of Michigan. The sentence is 2 years in prison and a fine.
Aggravated Domestic Assault:
An aggravated domestic assault charge is brought when the victim has received serious injury requiring medical attention. The first conviction is classified as a misdemeanor and punishable by jail time and/or a fine. A second aggravated domestic assault charge, or subsequent, is classified as a Felony. Potential penalties for this are at the judge’s discretion and increase in severity for subsequent convictions.
What Happens When Victims Don’t Press Charges?
One of the most crucial facts about a domestic violence or domestic assault charge is that much of the case depends upon the discretion of the criminal justice system. The officer who is called to the scene of a domestic violence call, the prosecutor who is in charge of the case, and the judge who presides over your case are more likely to determine the outcome of your case than the alleged victim or the person who called the police.
In the State of Michigan, if you are charged with domestic violence or domestic assault once, you can’t just walk away if the alleged victim doesn’t press charges. This is what can make a domestic assault charge so dangerous for the alleged offender.
Even if someone else called law enforcement after hearing an altercation, and even if the alleged victim says nothing happened, the prosecutor may still decide to press charges. In a domestic violence case, prosecutors may rightly believe that the victim will not press charges for fear of incurring further violence.
No Need for a Warrant
In addition to this, police don’t need a warrant to arrest someone for domestic violence. Law enforcement officers don’t need to have actually seen the violence take place, or to have a witness other than the victim. Furthermore, as the above definition states, no actual physical violence has to be perpetrated for a domestic violence charge to be brought. The victim may only have to state that they are in fear of mental or physical harm.
An Aggressive Defense Is Needed For Domestic Assault Charges
As you might be realizing right now, Michigan’s domestic violence laws are easy to exploit. Domestic violence is often falsely reported in the State of Michigan. In addition, since the perpetrators of domestic assault are historically men, our criminal justice system is often biased against men in domestic violence situations.
Once you have been charged with a domestic violence charge, it’s important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. If you have one domestic violence count on your record, it can be used against you in court in any future charges you might face. This is unlike any other kind of criminal charge, and it makes domestic violence charges potentially very dangerous and damaging to your future.
Attorney David J. Kramer has successfully defended alleged domestic violence offenders.
Reach Out Today for an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
David Kramer will make it a point to understand the situation thoroughly and to outline your options honestly. He will work toward your most desired outcome for your family and your future.
Let’s start fighting for your future.