Criminal Defense Law Center
West Michigan

  • Wyoming, MI 49519
  • 616-438-6719

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Attorneys
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Domestic Violence charges sometimes arise out of situations that unexpectedly spiral out of control – such as a passionate argument between a husband and wife, or a misunderstanding with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

These criminal charges are serious and never go away by themselves.

Anyone being charged with domestic violence has a lot to lose: the respect of your family, friends, child, your job or prospects for future employment, and even your freedom.

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Michigan Domestic Violence Laws

Under Michigan law, domestic violence is abusive behavior – physical, sexual, etc, used by one person to dominate or control another. Domestic relationships are those between spouses and former spouses, people in dating relationships, couples with children in common, and residents and former residents of the same household.

Examples of behavior that can lead to these charges being filed against you include:

We continually hear from our clients about how the victim didn’t want to press charges in their case. This is typical and expected in an abusive relationship. Many victims are pressured into trying to get these charges dropped by their spouse or relative who are usually the defendants in these cases. The victims in these cases can be victims who have been abused so much that they think it is normal to be beaten and abused.

Prosecutors will typically try to get victims to plead guilty in these kinds of cases knowing that the victim will not show up to court or that a husband or wife won’t testify in court against the defendant. Do not fall victim to this pressure by local West Michigan prosecutors! Our skilled criminal defense lawyers know what tools to use, in order to keep our clients from being bullied by zealous prosecutors and attorneys.

We understand that in many cases our clients are not guilty. We have seen so-called victims make up stories of abuse to get revenge on the defendant. Rest assured, we will not rest if you are innocent until you get your case dismissed or we get you a “not guilty” verdict at trial.

The punishment for a first offense domestic violence charges in all West Michigan courts is 93 days in jail. We have never had a client get 93 days for a first offense conviction.

These charges are aggressively prosecuted in Michigan, even when the alleged victims withdraw their complaints.

Domestic Violence Second Offense

The penalties for Domestic Violence Second Offense in Michigan are seriously tougher, including up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000.00.   

The Michigan Domestic Violence Second Offense statue reads:

An individual who commits an assault or an assault and battery in violation of subsection (2), and who has previously been convicted of assaulting or assaulting and battering his or her spouse or former spouse, an individual with whom he or she has or has had a dating relationship, an individual with whom he or she has had a child in common, or a resident or former resident of his or her household, under any of the following, may be punished by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both…”    

A person who is charged with Domestic Violence Second Offense cannot receive the deferral deal under MCL 769.4a:

“[t]here shall be only 1 discharge and dismissal under this section with respect to any individual.” In other words, a person can only get 769.4a once in their lifetime.

If you plead to or were found guilty of this charge before but never got MCL 769.4a, then you have been “convicted” of an “assaultive crime” in the past.

It should also be noted that there is no statute of limitations when it comes to using past convictions against someone being charged with a Michigan Domestic Violence Second Offense. We have seen clients charged with a 2nd domestic violence charge based on a prior conviction from 20 years ago.

An individual who is convicted is still guilty of a misdemeanor, but the maximum possible Jail time increases FOUR TIMES to 1 year in Jail. The fine is up to $1,000.00.

It is true, you can get locked-up in Jail for an entire year for this offense. You could also be ordered to participate in “Work Release,” where you are allowed to go to work or school, but must spend the nights and weekends in the County Jail. Rarely do people get the maximum jail time possible when it comes to this charge. However, jail time is a distinct possibility when someone is convicted for a Michigan Domestic Violence Second Offense.

Felony Domestic Violence

Michigan Felony Domestic Violence charges are serious crimes that require you to get an attorney on your side ASAP!  It should be noted that this charge is also commonly called a Domestic Assault charge, as well as a DV charge – they all refer to the same Michigan Assault crime contained in MCL 750.81(2).  

  • If, at your Arraignment, if you were told that the offense was punishable by up to 93 days in Jail and/or a fine of up to $500.00, you’re facing a Domestic Violence Misdemeanor.
  • If at your Arraignment, the Magistrate or Judge told you that the offense was punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.00, you’re facing either Domestic Violence 2nd Offense or Aggravated Domestic Violence.
  • If you’ve never been arrested for or faced a Domestic Violence charge before, you’re facing a Domestic Violence Misdemeanor.
  • If you were previously convicted of Domestic Violence or an Assault on a spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, or housemate 2 or more times in the past (whether or not you got a deferral under MCL 769.4a), you’re probably a Michigan Felony Domestic Violence charge and now facing up to 5 years in prison.

Aggravated Domestic Violence

A person may face a charge of aggravated domestic violence when the victim is seriously injured. The injury would require medical attention. If a person used a weapon while engaging in a domestic assault, the charge could be raised to a felonious assault.

An aggravated domestic assault first offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. A second aggravated domestic assault offense is a felony, punishable by 2 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

Domestic Violence impacts the lives of victims, perpetrators, and children

What You Must Know About Domestic Violence Charges

The justice system in Michigan is aggressive in arresting and prosecuting people accused of domestic assault.

Here are some examples from Michigan law that show how aggressive Michigan is in prosecuting people on these charges:

  • Typically, the police must get an arrest warrant that is authorized by a judge or magistrate.  However,  when it comes to this type of charge, the police can arrest a person immediately.  A police officer only needs to have reasonable cause to believe an assault happened against a spouse to make a legal arrest.
  • In cases of domestic assaults, a prior conviction is more freely admissible in court. The general rule of thumb under the rules of evidence is that prior convictions are not allowed into evidence to prove guilt. However, there is an exception for domestic violence convictions.
  • For Assault and Battery charges, the normal penalty is 93 days in jail. It doesn’t matter how many prior convictions the defendant has for assault and battery. However, in domestic violence cases, the penalties increase based on how many prior convictions a defendant has.

False Domestic Violence Charges

If you or a loved have a domestic altercation, you should seek out expert criminal defense representation right away! While the state of Michigan does not have a mandatory arrest law, the police can still arrest you later on.

In fact, We have had numerous clients get arrested at their house, right after the police arrive to investigate an incident.

We’ve also have had numerous clients deal with false accusations. We have noticed that many of these claims rise up after a person has experienced a divorce, a breakup or been accused of infidelity.  In many of these cases, an accusation of domestic violence is simply a tool to be used to help someone get custody of the kids or better results in a divorce.

  • I will verify all the details of your case.
  • I will contact witnesses in your case to see if their version of what happened matches what is in the police report.

Armed with this knowledge. we can build a strong case and figure out if the best results possible will be gained through trial or from a plea deal.

Can You Keep This Charge Off My Criminal Record?

Yes, if we can work out a deal where the prosecutor agrees to sentence someone under a deferral, this charge will be kept off the defendant’s record assuming he completes probation successfully. Once the defendant completes probation, their record will not show any conviction for this violent charge.

The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan is a powerhouse firm that won’t rest until you get the best results possible on your charges.

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  • 2675 44th Street SW
    Suite 208
    Wyoming, MI 49519
  • 616-438-6719
Criminal Defense Law Center West Michigan

Attorney Shawn Haff
We are available by phone 24/7