What are the possible penalties and consequences for domestic violence in Michigan - Am I going to jail?
In Michigan there are two types of misdemeanor domestic violence with different penalties. The most common is domestic assault/violence, which is to assault or batter any person in a domestic relationship with you. The victim need not be injured for the prosecutors to bring a domestic assault charge.
A first offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 93 days in jail, up to a $500 fine, or both. A second offense is also a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, or both.
Along with the misdemeanors, you could be charged with a felony if this is your third offense. A third offense is punishable by up to 2 years in prison, up to a $2,500 fine, or both.
The next domestic violence misdemeanor is aggravated domestic assault would result from an assault on someone in a domestic relationship without the use of a weapon. Such an assault would cause a serious or aggravated injury requiring medical attention for the victim. If a weapon was used to cause the injury, that would elevate the crime to felonious assault, a felony regardless of whether it was a first or subsequent offense.
An aggravated assault first offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. A second offense is a felony, punishable by 2 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
Jail and prison are worst case scenarios and not common for first offenses, what is more common is probation from 12 to 24 months with community service, counseling, anger management, a special domestic violence program, fines, costs, alcohol and drug testing etc.
The good news is that my clients avoid many of these sentencing parts because they are proactive from day one, which helps eliminate requirements of probation, including the length, and usually allows my client more flexibility while on probation for travel requests etc.
Every case is different, and a small portion of domestic violence cases do not have a clear path to dismissal. If you have a prior DV case, or a number of prior incidents against the same person, it will be difficult to get the prosecutor to agree to resolve the case with anything but a conviction on your record - under this scenario, you would need to set the case for trial.
Assuming you have never had a prior DV case or documented incident on the books, working toward a dismissal is very much possible. Here is one situation where a client's case may be able to get dismissed.
#1 - Upon being arrested, we obtain all police reports, videos, audio and statements related to the case. There will be a no-contact order in place, so my client can't communicate with the victim, but as an attorney, I would be able to reach out if necessary. We make a plan to go to court, and if the other party is agreeable, we seek to remove the no-contact order. This allows my client to resume a somewhat regular life and have their mind in the right place to assist in their defense.
During this time, my client is undergoing voluntary alcohol and drug testing, especially if these substances were involved in the incident. I will have my client get into counseling to begin better understanding the process and learning from it. If my client is allowed to have contact with the alleged victim, I would try to get them into a joint counseling to begin to fix what lead up to the incident and begin transitioning things into a private situation vs a public embarrassment at the courthouse.
#2 - The alleged victim will chat with a victim advocate, and if they are supportive of a favorable resolution, that will be conveyed to the prosecutor who will then be open to my requests. The prosecutor will not simply drop the case upon request, it does not work that way in Michigan. As long as the alleged victim is open to making the case non-public, the prosecutor may authorize 769.4A status as part of a plea resolution. It's not easy as you may think to receive this deal, because the prosecutor must offer it and confer with the alleged victim.
#3 - If the 769.4A is on the table, and my client determines it is the best option for his case, then we will formalize the deal and confer with the judge about avoiding upfront jail, which is likely. My client must be prepared to be on probation and fulfill the requirements of the court; a violation of probation could mean this offense going on my client's record. Ideally we have knocked out a number of these requirements proactively, and my client is left with complying with staying out of trouble, avoiding alcohol, drugs, and paying fines and costs. If my client still has counseling, community service and other requirements to fill, we need to make sure we have a plan for success to knock these out as quickly as possible.
If I'm put on probation for domestic violence in Michigan, what will be the requirements, and will it be difficult?
Probation is a privilege and not a right. All DV crimes in Michigan carry jail time - either 93 days or one year as a maximum sentence. The first step is avoiding going to jail for domestic violence; if we're able to avoid that, then we focus on probation.
In Michigan, a person can go on probation for up to 24 months for a misdemeanor, which may require counseling, community service, education, alcohol/drug testing and a number of other requirements. Probation is not easy. Failure to comply with your requirements and you will be showcaused by the court for failure to comply or go straight to a probation violation hearing. If you are found to be in violation of your probation, there is a good chance you will be sent to jail for at least a short period of time, if not the full maximum amount.
The key to domestic violence probation is to get the shortest possible term with the least amount of requirements; essentially defusing mines before they go off, and shorten the path to the finish line. All of my clients charged with DV in Michigan go on my proactive program from day, which allows us to shed months off probation and knock out requirements. Do a lot in 30-60 days and save yourself 3 to 12 months.
The difference between being proactive and being on probation is the "requirements" I have you do are purely voluntary, and I cannot send you to jail; failure to follow my directions simply leads to my disappointment in you and an opportunity lost. Failure to follow the court's instructions and you're going to jail. Doesn't it make a lot of sense to proactive? Easier to learn to ride a bike on training wheels and shortern the learning process than to try to jump on a bike cold turkey and crash and burn.