Criminal Defense Attorneys
Flint, Michigan

(810) 238-0500

How Are Domestic Violence Charges Handled in Michigan?

Domestic violence law on a wooden table.

Put yourself in the best position to protect your legal rights.

Any criminal charge can change your life dramatically, but few charges have more serious consequences than domestic violence. Even being charged with domestic violence can have a massive impact on your reputation, your career, and your future. And if you are convicted of a domestic violence crime, that charge will most likely follow you for life.

In short, if you are facing domestic violence charges in Michigan, you need to act fast to protect your rights. Contact Manley & Manley today to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case.

Is domestic violence a felony or misdemeanor in Michigan?

In most cases, domestic assault—the baseline domestic violence charge—is a misdemeanor. Domestic assault is defined as committing a forceful, violent, or offensive touching or holding someone in fear of a forceful, violent, or offensive touching (that's the "assault" part) against a current or former spouse, a person you have a child with, a person you have had a dating relationship with, or a person you have lived with (that's the "domestic" part).

  • A first domestic assault offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
  • A second offense is still a misdemeanor but with much more severe penalties: up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • A third or subsequent domestic assault offense can be charged as a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Aggravated domestic assault means that the victim sustained serious injuries requiring immediate medical care. In Michigan, a first offense of aggravated domestic assault is essentially equivalent to a second offense of regular domestic assault: a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $1,000. A second or subsequent offense of aggravated domestic assault is a felony.

Domestic violence can also be charged as a felony, even for a first offense, if you used a deadly weapon, intended to cause great bodily harm, or committed the assault by strangulation or suffocation.

Collateral consequences of a domestic violence conviction in Michigan

Besides the possibility of incarceration, fines, probation, and other legal consequences of a conviction, there are several other ways a domestic assault conviction can affect your life:

  • You will lose your right to own a firearm under federal law.
  • If you are a licensed professional, such as a nurse, electrician, or realtor, a domestic assault conviction can cause problems for your professional license.
  • More broadly, employers are much less likely to hire someone with a domestic assault conviction on their record.
  • Your victim may take out a restraining order, which can have significant implications for your ability to work and live your life.
  • If you have children, a domestic violence conviction can affect your child custody status.
  • If you are not a United States citizen, a domestic assault conviction can cause serious problems for your immigration status.

Can I be charged with domestic assault even if the victim doesn't want to press charges?

You absolutely can. While prosecutors may take the victim's wishes into account, at the end of the day, domestic assault is a crime against the state of Michigan, not just against the individual victim. It's the prosecutor's choice whether to press charges or not.

What are my options if I'm charged with domestic assault?

Michigan law creates a special plea bargain for first-time domestic violence offenders. Under this law, with the consent of the prosecutor, you can plead guilty and enter a special probationary program. Usually, in addition to all the requirements of regular probation, this type of probation involves some form of anger management or relationship counseling. If the domestic violence incident involved drugs or alcohol, then you may also be required to attend substance abuse treatment.

If you successfully complete this period of special probation, then your case will be dismissed without an adjudication of guilt, which means you won't have a domestic violence conviction on your record. On the other hand, if you violate this probation by committing another assaultive crime, then the judge is required to enter an adjudication of guilt; that is, you are now convicted of domestic assault, with everything that entails. The judge can give you a second chance if you violate the probation in some other way (for instance, by using alcohol or drugs), but that is at the judge's discretion.

As with any other criminal charge, you can also fight the charge itself. Your attorney can argue that the assault didn't happen or that you acted in self-defense. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to get the charges reduced or dropped entirely, or fight for a Not Guilty verdict at trial.

Talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney today

Again, if you're charged with domestic assault, you are looking at serious consequences, and it's up to the prosecutor, not the victim, whether the state pursues those consequences. You have options, but you need to act quickly to protect your rights and your future. That's why you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side.

If you are facing domestic assault charges in Genesee County or any of the surrounding communities, take control of your future with the right attorney on your side. Contact Manley & Manley today for a free, confidential consultation.

Categories: Posts
Our firm offers ClientCredit, which has partnered with Affirm to allow you to pay your retainer over time.

click to learn more

Contact UsClick Here