Last updated on April 20, 2023

What To Do if You are Accused of Domestic Violence

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. To avoid misconceptions about domestic violence cases, talk to a Michigan domestic violence defense attorney right away. A skilled defense attorney may be able to help you protect your rights and recover from a domestic violence charge.

  • 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.
Course of Action Details
Keep your distance from the accuser. Avoid contact and stay away to reduce chances of additional allegations.
Know your rights during police questioning. Exercise your right to remain silent and consult with an attorney before making any statements.
Consult with an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer. Hire a skilled defense attorney to safeguard your rights and navigate the legal process.
Address underlying issues such as substance abuse or anger management. Seek treatment for underlying issues that may be related to the allegations.
Only discuss your case with your lawyer. Share details of your case only with your attorney to avoid potential harm to your defense.

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.
  • Self-defense;
  • 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.

MCL 769.4a

MCL 769.4a refers to a provision in Michigan Criminal Law that may provide a special program for first-time domestic violence offenders. Under this program, a guilty plea can result in probation. The court can order anger management, family counseling, random drug/alcohol tests, and other forms of intervention as an alternative sentence. However, this option is not available to repeat offenders or for those convicted after a trial. Also, the victim and the prosecutor must consent to this sentence. 

If a defendant is not eligible for this program, there are still several defenses they can use, such as contesting false accusations, claiming self-defense or protection of others, or questioning the credibility of the accuser. The defendant should only discuss the case with their lawyer and address any underlying issues, such as substance abuse or anger management, which may have led to the accusations. It is also important to keep a distance from the accuser to avoid further allegations.

Michigan domestic violence defense lawyer

The consequences of charges and a conviction of domestic violence are serious and can lead to jail time, fines, restrictions on freedoms, and an impact on your employment prospects and your relationship with your family. In any case, it is crucial to consult with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney who can safeguard the defendant’s rights during police questioning, investigation, and throughout the judicial process. 

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.

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