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Michigan domestic violence laws

Domestic Violence

Michigan law defines domestic violence as any of the following acts:

  • Causing or attempting to cause physical or mental harm to a family or household member
  • Placing a family or household member in fear of physical or mental harm
  • Causing or attempting to cause a family or household member to engage in involuntary sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress
  • Engaging in activity toward a family or household member that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested[1]

A Crime With Many Faces

What most people don’t realize is how – broadly read – domestic violence under Michigan law encompasses (or accompanies) several different crimes such as domestic assault, stalking, criminal sexual conduct, parental kidnapping, child abuse, witness tampering, and others. This is because the “causing” or “placing” of an individual in fear of harm or danger can be the direct result of any crime to which that individual is a victim or a witness. What matters for the purposes of domestic violence is the nature of the relationship between the actor and that second individual – someone who is a “family or household member.” Michigan law defines that relationship as any of the following:

  • A spouse or former spouse
  • An individual with whom the person resides or has resided
  • An individual with whom the person has or has had a child in common
  • An individual with whom the person has or has had a dating relationship – meaning frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional involvement[2]

With such a wide net cast, many Michigan residents get snared in this unfortunate net. Making matters worse, most domestic violence incidents aren’t witnessed, leaving many defendants facing the classic “he said, she said” situation at trial. Most first-time offenders don’t realize either that it is common practice for law enforcement agencies – when they receive a 911 call for domestic violence – to arrest someone, even though that someone may not have been the primary aggressor or simply might not have been the first one to pick up the phone. These are the harsh realities facing defendants charged with domestic violence in Michigan.

Don’t throw in the towel just yet! The Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC has over 45 years of criminal law experience and – with the (unfortunately) high rates of domestic violence prevalent today – that translates into a wealth of knowledge and familiarity with the statutes and cases governing domestic violence in the state of Michigan as well as familiarity with the thousands of scenarios under which an individual might be charged with domestic violence. You NEED that kind of experience in your corner when oftentimes the only evidence against you is the victim’s version of events.

Probation for First-Time Offenders

What most people don’t realize either is that Michigan law – in many different crime classes –allows for a “free pass” for first-time offenders. That is, upon successful completion of a probationary term, their records will be cleared of the charged offenses – in many cases without entering a plea of guilt! Such is the case with those defendants charged with their first domestic violence offense. MCL 769.4a allows those individuals not previously convicted of domestic violence to – without the entry of a judgment of sentence – serve a period of probation (usually 6-9 months) after which their criminal records will be cleared of the charged offense. The bottom line: Stay out of trouble for a few months and it will be as if the crime never happened.

Why take a chance on representing yourself or even pleading guilty because you think a misdemeanor on your record is “no big deal.” It is a very big deal to us at the Peter J. Johnson Law Office where we try our best to reduce or dismiss the charges our clients face because we know the stigma that people with criminal records face these days – in the employment world, in the housing world, in the financial world, everywhere. Don’t waste another minute! Contact the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC today for a free consultation – over the phone or in our office – to discuss your domestic violence case. If you don’t reach an attorney when you call, we guarantee a callback within 24 hours. How many attorneys do you know who can promise that kind of service today?