If you are facing domestic violence (DV) charges in Michigan, it is essential to hire a Lansing domestic violence lawyer to help you fight the charges. Whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony charges, a possible conviction can result in long-term repercussions such as the inability to get some jobs, rent a home, and so forth. For this reason, you need to prioritize hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you build a strong defense.
At our law firm, we have experience representing people facing domestic violence allegations. Among other things, we help strengthen their case and use applicable legal defenses to counter the charges.
Consequences of a domestic violence conviction
Domestic violence is a criminal offense. If you are convicted of the charges, you may face penalties in the form of fines, imprisonment, probation, and additional collateral consequences, which can be equally severe.
The penalties may vary based on the type of charge (felony or misdemeanor), the degree of the violence, and your criminal history of domestic violence. Again, the consequences may increase significantly if there are aggravating factors such as using a weapon.
Additional collateral consequences may include:
- Firearm license disqualification
- Loss of all your gun rights, for that matter
- An inability to secure some jobs, such as teaching, social services, etc.
- Being fired by your employer
- Possible suspension or revocation of professional licenses
- An inability to rent a house
- Denial of child custody
Possible penalties in domestic violence charges
As mentioned, the penalties you potentially face upon conviction may vary widely depending on the various factors highlighted. Essentially, Michigan domestic violence law imposes penalties as follows;
- First offense (misdemeanor): Maximum jail term of 93 days and a fine of $500
- Second offense (misdemeanor): Maximum jail term of one year and a fine of up to $1,000
- Third offense (felony): Maximum jail term of two years and a fine of up to $2,500
On top of these “traditional” domestic assault charges, causing serious injury can lead to an allegation of aggravated domestic assault. This is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year if it’s a first offense and a felony if it’s a second or subsequent offense.
Even more serious is if the prosecutor tries to charge you with assault with intent to do great bodily harm (a 10-year felony), assault by strangulation (also a 10-year felony), or assault with intent to murder (a life offense). In our experience, prosecutors frequently tend to overcharge these cases as a means to bully defendants into taking “favorable” plea deals. We’re always on the lookout for overzealous prosecution and willing to call them on it whenever we see it.
If you are facing misdemeanor charges, the court may put you on probation. The maximum duration of probation for a misdemeanor is two years. For felonies, you can get up to five years’ probation. During probation, you may be required to:
- Attend a domestic violence class
- Perform community service
- Undergo frequent alcohol/drug testing
A Lansing domestic violence lawyer can explain relevant statutes
Michigan domestic violence laws apply to the following relationships:
- A spouse or former spouse
- Someone you are dating or that you have dated in the past
- Someone you are living with now or have lived with in the past
- A biological co-parent
The law defines domestic violence as behaviors involving the use of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to control the above-mentioned relations.
Below is a list of what can be considered domestic violence:
- Assault (physical and sexual)
- Attempted murder
In addition to filing a lawsuit, the victim might also take additional legal actions against you, such as:
- Applying for personal protective orders (PPO)
- Issuance of child custody/support orders
- Filing a civil lawsuit to recover damages (for medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.)
The statute of limitations for domestic violence in Michigan is pretty lengthy. The government has up to six years to bring charges against you. However, the deadline can be longer if you leave the state before they file a complaint, in which case, the time starts counting upon your return.
Is there a mandatory arrest policy?
The police often seem to think so, but no. The notion that the police have to arrest someone just for being called to the scene of a crime ought to be unthinkable in a free society. But the law does require every police agency to have a policy when responding to domestic violence calls. The law says that in most cases, an arrest should be made, but only if the police have probable cause to believe a person committed a crime of domestic violence. But they cannot arrest you if they don’t have facts to support an arrest. That said, they may arrest you even if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges. The cops do not need a warrant to make an arrest in these situations.
The circumstances and the severity of the violence may aggravate domestic violence assault charges from misdemeanor to felony, or lead to new charges entirely. Some of these factors include:
- Use of a weapon during the violence; for example, you may be charged with a felony for firing at the person even if you did not shoot them
- If the person suffered severe physical injuries from the attack
- And as we discussed above, prior offenses or an intent to do great bodily harm or commit murder
An experienced Lansing domestic violence lawyer can help strengthen your case
The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the alleged crime. You can strengthen your case and effectively weaken the prosecution’s charges if you cast doubt on the credibility of the victim’s allegations.
The importance of hiring an experienced Lansing domestic violence lawyer for your case is that they can help explore available legal defenses to fight the charges.
Do not face this alone. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Below are four legal defenses you can ride on:
- Arguing that this is BS (though you shouldn’t say it that way in court). You may argue the offense did not happen if the prosecutor does not have evidence to prove its occurrence.
- Maintaining you did not do it. If the prosecution provides evidence of the crime, such as photos of injuries and hospital records, you may claim you did not do it. This is an especially compelling argument if you have a good alibi witness.
- Insisting you were justified. If witnesses come forward to testify against you or the prosecution happens to have incriminating evidence of you committing the crime, you may insist that what you did was justified, for instance, if you acted in self-defense.
- Pointing at investigation issues. If the police violated the law while conducting the investigation, you could request a case dismissal. For instance, maybe they got a damning statement out of you after your arrest, but before they gave you your Miranda warnings. And maybe the likelihood of conviction goes way down without the statement. That is why engaging the services of an experienced domestic violence attorney is essential, as they are knowledgeable in the laws applicable to your case.