How Does The State Of Michigan Define Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence (DV) is a common charge in Michigan and it is interpreted to have a broad definition by the courts. Domestic Violence charges stem from assault and battery law, but have an additional component in that the individuals involved have some form of relationship.
While many people assume that the “relationship” requires that a person must live in the same household as an individual who they accuse of DV, this is not true in Michigan. In Michigan, Domestic Violence has a much broader interpretation, to the point where being involved in any sort of romantic or familial relationship with a person is enough to merit the charge of Domestic Violence.
I Was Arrested For Domestic Violence In East Lansing, Michigan? What Charges Will I Be Facing?
The charges for DV in Michigan are essentially the same as assault and battery charges, with the caveat that the alleged victim in the case is someone that you have a familiar relationship with, whether they are a family member or a romantic partner.
The statute that determines this is interpreted broadly to include most people that you would have a dating relationship with or some form of living relationship with.
As you are being charged with a crime against someone that you have a familiar relationship with, it is considered to be a more serious situation than simple assault and battery charges. This is in part due to the fact that the state takes a victim’s interests very seriously in these cases due to the nature, and sometimes the political nature, of the charges.
The state of Michigan views those charged with Domestic Violence quite harshly. This is one reason it is very important to have an attorney who can work to counteract the prevailing narratives of these cases. In this effort, an attorney can provide the state with information necessary to the case, giving the state the opportunity to take all factors into account and, potentially, exercise more leniency in the penalties that they seek.
Will A Restraining Order Or Order Of Protection Be Put Into Place Once Domestic Violence Charges Are Filed In Ingham Or Clinton County?
Yes, and this can be a complicated issue as a “No-Contact Order” (different than a restraining order) is almost always put in place once DV charges have been filed in Ingham County, Eaton County or Clinton County. This can be a frustrating experience as the “No-Contact Orders” are often put into place either with very little evidence having been presented to the court, or no evidence at all.
The court often issues these protection orders out of an abundance of caution and will occasionally go back and retract an order when it doesn’t make sense in its original form.
One of the difficult aspects of these orders is that it creates a one-way street. In these situations, a person who has been accused of Domestic Violence is restrained by an order, while the person who is accusing them of domestic violence is not restrained in any way.
For example, a person making an accusation is able to contact the individual they accused freely and with no fear of penalty from the court. However, the individual who is being accused, and thereby restrained by an order, could go to jail for merely responding to a text message from the person accusing them.
This can result in injustice as someone who accuses another person can, in some cases, be lying. This type of situation results in the accused seeing their rights deprived for no valid reason.
What’s more, cases of this nature can remain pending for months on end and the related protection orders can stay in effect for the duration of the case – regardless of the truth of the matter.
Unfortunately, this means that people who are wrongly accused of DV and who in any way violate a no-contact order – regardless of whether or not the other person is harassing them – can be jailed by the court. And in those cases, it’s often not until many months later that the court realizes the mistake.
It is vitally important to have an attorney on your Domestic Violence case from the onset to fight against the stigma so these misunderstandings and complications don’t occur.
Will Domestic Violence Charges Be Automatically Dropped If An Accuser Recants Allegations?
No. As counterintuitive as it may seem, the state often proceeds on Domestic Violence cases even in instances wherein the victim or alleged victim is adamantly against it. In fact, there are times when the alleged victim will need to hire an attorney of their own in an attempt to persuade the state to drop the charges.
Domestic Violence charges are highly politicized and are taken very seriously by the prosecutor’s office. Thus, when prosecutors have evidence that they believe will lead to a conviction, they often do not take into account the wishes of those involved who may be trying to have the case dropped.
What Are The Potential Sentencing Guidelines Or Penalties For A Domestic Violence Conviction?
Much like other criminal charges, the penalties depend on the defendant’s unique circumstances and prior history and whether or not they have been charged or convicted of Domestic Violence previously.
Typically, a first-time offender with a skilled attorney should be able to avoid jail time under the right circumstances. However, repeat offenders can face penalties as harsh as many other higher-level felonies, especially in circumstances when serious injuries have been sustained or there has been a repeated course of conduct. Under those conditions, the accused may be looking at 10 to 15 years, or potentially more severe charges. Every case depends on the individual’s unique circumstances.
What Strategies Can Be Used To Defend Someone Accused Of Domestic Violence In Michigan? Is Self-Defense Ever A Viable Defense?
Yes, in some situations, self-defense can be a viable defense. It can be one of the more common defenses raised in these types of cases. However, there are other defenses that can be successful and it’s important to note that self-defense may work against you if the circumstances of the case don’t lead to self-defense as a reasonable argument.
Often when self-defense is argued, it is quickly dismissed by the court because there tends to be circumstantial evidence that the prosecutors put forth to cast doubt on the validity of those claims.
While it may be a popular and appealing defense, it’s not always the proper defense and a skilled attorney will be able to help you make that determination.
For more information on Domestic Violence Charges In Michigan, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (517) 409-1177 today.
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