There can be no doubt that domestic violence is a serious matter under Michigan’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Act. However, you are in a very difficult position if the allegations against you are untrue, exaggerated, or based upon ulterior motives. Unfortunately, false accusations of domestic abuse are more common than you think. They are particularly prevalent in divorce or custody cases when one party is trying to gain an advantage in court. Even when you know you are innocent, anger, frustration, and despair may take the place of logic. Do not allow your emotions get the best of you and potentially affect your case. Talk to a domestic violence defense attorney right away and follow a few tips on what to do about the allegations.
- Keep Your Distance: Avoid your accuser as much as possible, which may mean moving out if you share a home. Separation gives you both a chance to cool off, and it may be legally required anyway if there is a Personal Protective Order (PPO) in place. Plus, staying away greatly reduces the chance that your accuser will follow up with additional allegations.
- Know Your Rights During Police Questioning: Domestic violence is a crime, so you have rights that attach after your arrest. You have the right to remain silent, but may be tempted to proclaim your innocence. It is best to not make any statements until you retain an attorney to defend your interests.
- Consult with an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer: A skilled defense attorney will safeguard your rights after your arrest and during police questioning. However, a lawyer can assist with any additional investigation, hearings, and throughout the court process. Not only can a conviction lead to jail time, fines, and restrictions on your freedoms, but it could impact employment and where you can live. Plus, when a court handling your divorce or child custody learns of your conviction, it could affect your relationship with your child.
- Address Underlying Issues: It is not uncommon for domestic violence allegations to arise out of some other factors affecting your life. If the accusation is connected to your alcohol or substance abuse, anger management, or similar issues, you should seek treatment. Not only will proper care improve your life overall, but your initiative can shed a positive light in court.
- Only Discuss Your Case with Your Lawyer: You should not talk about the domestic violence charges with anyone but your attorney. This prohibition included discussing the underlying incident, the circumstances of your arrest, status of a PPO, any other aspect of the case. Other people may become witnesses based upon these conversations, so keep the details to yourself.
What Are the Possible Defenses Against a Domestic Violence Charge?
Some first-time offenders of domestic violence may be eligible for a special program under Michigan Criminal Law 769.4a. This allows them to enter a guilty plea and that will be treated by the court as probation. The court will order anger management, family counseling, and random drug/alcohol tests as well as other forms of required interventions. However, MCL 769.4a has its limitations:
- For repeat domestic violence offenders, it is not possible to get this sentence.
- If someone is found guilty of a crime after a trial, it is not possible to obtain this privilege.
- It is not available to other misdemeanors or felony assault offenses.
- It requires consent from the victim as well as the prosecutor.
There are also several defenses that you can use if you are not eligible for this program. These other defenses include:
- Attacking the false accusations of the accuser, such as exposing the fact that the charges were made in order to gain an advantage in a child custody or divorce contest.
- Protection of others;
- Attacking the credibility of the accuser, especially if the accuser is the only witness and creates a “he said/she said” situation.
The life-altering consequences of a conviction, plea, or charge of domestic violence are severe. It is important to find the best Michigan domestic violence lawyer to defend you.
Contact a Michigan Domestic Violence Lawyer About Defense Options
If you have questions about your case and other aspects of domestic violence cases in Michigan, please contact the office of Paul J. Tafelski at (248) 451-2200. You can also visit our website to set up an appointment to review your circumstances. We assist clients in many areas of criminal defense, and we are committed to protecting your rights.