Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the incidence of Domestic Violence has skyrocketed across the country. With people limiting their contact with outsiders and staying home, tensions have risen to a fevered pitch in many households in the past couple of years. As a result, there have been more people charged with Domestic Violence than ever before.
Domestic Violence is defined under Michigan Law as an assault or assault and battery against an individual who is his or her spouse or former spouse, an individual with whom he or she has or has had a dating relationship, an individual with whom he or she has had a child in common, or a resident or former resident of the same household. Note that a person can be charged with Domestic Violence even if the victim is completely uninjured.
Michigan Laws Regarding Domestic Violence
Michigan’s Domestic Violence Statute
MCL 750.81a is the primary statute in Michigan regarding Domestic Violence. The penalties are severe and vary according to the circumstances of the assault, ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Domestic Violence charges in which no one is seriously injured:
- For a first offense in which there are no serious injuries, the Defendant will be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in the county jail, a fine of up to $500.00 or both.
- A second offense of Domestic Violence in which there are no serious injuries will result in a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to one-year in the county jail, a fine of up to$1,000.00 or both; and
- A third or subsequent offense of Domestic Violence in which there are no serious injuries will result in a felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000.00 fine, or both.
Domestic Violence in which serious injuries occur (MCL 750.81b):
- An individual who assaults a person with whom they have a defined domestic relationship and who uses a weapon or causes a serious or aggravated bodily injury will face a misdemeanor charge of Aggravated Domestic Violence, which is punishable by up to one-year in the county jail, a fine of up to$1,000.00 or both; and
- A second or subsequent offense of Aggravated Domestic Violence will result in a felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000.00 fine, or both.
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
While the penalties for a Domestic Violence conviction are significant, the long-term consequences are worse. In 1994, The U.S. Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”). In 1994 and 1996, Congress also passed changes to the Gun Control Act making it a federal crime in certain situations for domestic violence abusers to possess guns. A conviction for Domestic Violence, even as a misdemeanor, will strip you of your right to own or possess a firearm.
What to Do if You Have Been Charged with Domestic Violence
If you are charged with Domestic Violence, you should immediately retain competent counsel. At Kirsch Daskas, our staff and attorneys will review the evidence compiled by the police and make a determination as to the admissibility and sufficiency of the evidence being presented. Your attorney can then formulate and recommend a defense strategy.