Michigan’s domestic assault law applies to assaults committed against persons who are or were in certain relationships with the defendant. Defendants who have previously been convicted of violent domestic crimes face the possibility of more severe fines and lengthier jail sentences. Michigan law also provides a system where domestic violence victims can obtain personal protection orders from a court.
Domestic Assault & Penalties
A person commits domestic assault by assaulting a current or former spouse, an individual with whom the person is or was in a dating relationship, an individual with whom the person has a child, or a current or former resident of the person’s household. Domestic assault and domestic assault and battery are misdemeanors punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine, if the person has no prior convictions for domestic violence crimes. If the assault involves neither a weapon nor the intent to murder but causes serious or aggravated injury, the person is subject to up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If the person convicted of domestic assault or domestic assault and battery has a prior conviction for committing any of the following offenses against a current or former dating partner, current or former spouse, current or former household resident, or a co-parent, the new conviction may be punished by up to one year in prison or a $1,000 fine, or both:
- assault and battery
- felonius assault
- assault with intent to commit murder, maim, or do great bodily harm, or
- a conviction for violating a law in another state that is substantially similar to any of the preceding crimes.
If the defendant has two or more such prior convictions, the new domestic assault or domestic assault and battery conviction may result in a prison sentence of up to two years in prison, a $2,500 fine, or both.
(Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 750.81, 750.81a)
Personal Protection Orders
A person seeking protection from domestic violence may file a petition with a circuit court’s family division, requesting that the court grant a personal protection order against a current or former spouse, an individual with whom the person has a child in common, an individual with whom the person is or was in a dating relationship, or a current or former resident of the person’s household.
Ex parte personal protection order
A person may request an ex parte personal protection order, in which the petitioner (the person filing the petition) asks the court to issue a personal protection order before holding a hearing or otherwise notifying the respondent (the person who the petitioner seeks protection from) that the petition has been filed.
A judge will grant an ex parte personal protection order if the petitioner’s affidavit makes clear that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result from the delay caused by the time it takes to notify the respondent of the petition, or from adverse actions taken upon notification of the petition. Once an ex parte order is issued, a hearing is scheduled and the respondent is provided with notice of the petition and the hearing.
A personal protection order may contain any of the following prohibitions against the respondent:
- entering the premises
- attacking or beating the petitioner
- threatening to kill or injure the petitioner
- removing a minor child from the person who has legal custody
- having access to records of the petitioner and respondent’s minor child that disclose the petitioner and child’s telephone number or address or the petitioner’s employment address
- purchasing or possessing a firearm
- interfering with the petitioner’s attempts to remove the minor child or personal property from premises solely owned or leased by the respondent
- interfering with the petitioner at the petitioner’s workplace or school
- engaging in conduct that constitutes stalking or aggravated stalking, and
- any other conduct that interferes with the petitioner’s personal liberty or causes the petitioner to reasonably fear violence.
After conducting the hearing, the court may issue the personal protection order if the judge finds reasonable cause to believe that the respondent may commit one or more of the acts listed above. The court may not refuse to issue a personal protection order solely because a lack of a police report, medical report, or physical signs of abuse.
(Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.2950)
Domestic Violence & Warrantless Arrest
Michigan law authorizes law enforcement officers to make arrests without a warrant under certain circumstances in domestic assault cases. A police officer may make an arrest, regardless of whether the officer has a warrant and regardless of whether the crime took place in the officer’s presence, if the officer has reasonable cause to believe that a suspect committed or is committing a domestic assault.
An officer may also conduct an arrest without a warrant if the officer has reason to believe that a person is a respondent in a personal protection order and has violated one of the order’s terms. An officer’s authority to make a warrantless arrest is limited to violations of terms that prohibit the respondent from:
- assaulting, attacking, beating, or wounding a person protected by the order
- removing a minor child from the person having legal custody of the child, unless the action is permitted by a custody or parenting time court order
- entering onto premises
- committing the crimes of stalking aggravated stalking
- threatening to kill or injure a person protected by the order
- purchasing or possessing a firearm
- interfering with the petitioner’s efforts to remove the petitioner’s children or personal property from premises solely owned or leased by the respondent
- interfering with the petitioner at the petitioner’s workplace or school or engaging in conduct that interferes with the petitioner’s employment or education, or
- any other act or conduct specified by the judge in the order.
A person arrested for violating the terms of a personal order of protection may be charged with criminal contempt. If convicted, the person may be sentenced up to 93 days in jail and fined $500.
(Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 764.15a, 764.15b)
Contact An Attorney
If you are charged with committing a domestic violence crime or if you are accused of domestic violence in a petition for a personal protection order, you should not wait to contact an attorney. Violations of a domestic violence crime or the terms of a personal protection order can result in jail time and fines. An experienced attorney will provide invaluable guidance while ensuring that your rights and liberty are protected.