What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence or domestic assault is very similar to the commonly known charge of assault or assault and battery. A domestic assault is the forceful, violent, or offensive touching or a person or something closely connected with him or her. That touching must have been intended by the accused, not accidental, and it must have been against the victim’s will. This alone would satisfy the requirement for an assault/battery. However, domestic violence adds in the additional element that the victim must be someone that is the accused’s spouse, former spouse, someone the accused had a child in common with, was a resident or former resident of the same household as the accused (roommate), or was a person the accused had or previously had a dating relationship with. (M Crim JI 17.2a)

What is the penalty for domestic violence?

  • A first offense domestic violence conviction is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days, a fine of not more than $500, or both. MCL 750.81(2).
  • A second offense domestic violence conviction is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, a fine of not more than $1000, or both. MCL 750.81(4).
  • A third offense domestic violence conviction is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, a fine of not more than $5,000, or both. MCL 750.81(5).

As evidenced from above, a criminal conviction of domestic violence or domestic assault can negatively impact a person’s life in many ways. In addition to the criminal penalties that could include jail time, probation, fines, and court costs; a parent may be prevented from seeing or having contact with their child or children. Additionally, these serious charges could result in a person losing their job and even backlash from their family, friends, and community.

When people hear domestic violence, they immediately think of violent acts of physical harm between married persons or couples. A large percentage of domestic violence cases do involve acts between spouses. However, such charges may result from a conflict between two people who simply reside together in the same household, such as roommates, or even from people who are related, parents/children, or people who are engaged in some type of relationship with one another.

Many people assume that domestic violence charges only relate to acts that have caused serious physical injury, harm, or abuse to someone else. However, in addition to physical injury, harm, or abuse, the term domestic violence can encompass other forms of abuse or harm, including sexual, psychological, emotional, and even economic. In some cases, a simple insignificant disagreement can escalate into aggression and/or violence or can even lead to a neighbor calling the police because the argument “got too loud.”

Once the police are called and charges are filed, it cannot be stopped. The prosecuting official takes over jurisdiction of the charges and determines whether or not they will proceed with the charges (they usually do).

People in Michigan who are facing domestic violence charges readily realize that these convictions can have a detrimental impact on their lives. The rights of the victims are known to be protected by the prosecuting attorney. However, the rights of the accused individuals need to be protected as well. Given the extreme impact these charges can have on an individual’s life, it is important to fight to get the charges dismissed or reduced.

Our aggressive criminal defense team has successfully obtained acquittals, dismissals, and reduced charges for our clients facing domestic violence charges. We understand the impact that these charges can have on your life, not just in the future, but when going through the court system as well. We pride ourselves not only on our case outcomes and resolutions, but our communication with our clients throughout their entire legal process. We are here for our clients every step of the way.

If you are facing criminal charges in the Grand Rapids, Kent County, or Ottawa County areas, you can count on our attorneys to fight for your rights.

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