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.
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:
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)
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.
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:
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)
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:
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)
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.