In this defense, the prosecutor must prove that the offense was committed beyond a reasonable doubt (i.e. prosecutor must prove that something happened and that what happened was a violation of the law).
Each criminal offense has a list of facts, called elements, that the prosecutor must prove to generate a conviction.
In a domestic violence case, the prosecutor must prove two elements:
1. That the accused assaulted and/or battered an individual An assault is an action or indication that makes someone reasonably afraid of imminent battery, which is harmful or offensive touching.
Battery is the offensive or harmful physical contact itself.
Therefore, it’s possible to assault someone without battering them, batter them without assaulting them, or to both assault and batter them.
Michigan Law lumps assault and battery together as one element of the domestic violence charge.
2. That at the time of the assault the accuser was one or more of the following: The accused’s spouse or former spouse, had a child in common with the accused, is a current or former household member of the accused, or was a person with whom the accused had a “dating relationship.”
How Does the Defense Apply?
Often, the only witnesses to an alleged incident of domestic violence are the accused and the accuser.
Since proof of the elements listed above often depends entirely on the testimony of the alleged victim, it’s vital to hire an attorney who has extensive experience cross-examining witnesses in court.
Domestic Violence Defense #2: It Happened, But It Wasn’t Me
While the identity of the accused is typically not an issue in a domestic violence case, the prosecutor still must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was the person who committed the offense.
How Does the Defense Apply?
This defense attacks the identification of the accused as the person who committed the alleged crime.
It states that the evidence proves the elements of the crime, but not the fact that the accused is the person who committed that crime.
Forensic evidence, such as DNA or fingerprints, conflicting eye-witness descriptions, and alibis are often used to undermine the prosecutor’s evidence that the accused is the person who committed a crime.
Many are wrongfully accused (and sometimes wrongfully convicted) based on bad identification.
Domestic Violence Defense #3: It Happened, But My Actions Were Justified or Excused
This is a much bigger umbrella of possible defenses than the prior two, because there are several ways that someone’s violent conduct might be justified or excused according to the law.
In Michigan, a person is entitled to use force to protect themselves from the “imminent unlawful use of force by another.”
While self-defense is available to someone claiming they used force to prevent or stop a domestic assault on someone else, the defense is not available at trial where the accused and the accuser have a “domestic” relationship as discussed above.
If there’s evidence of mutual combat, then it’s important for your attorney to review all the facts of your case to discuss with the prosecutor whether dismissal is possible.
Michigan law also considers “not guilty by reason of insanity” as well as “guilty but mentally ill.” These defenses are highly fact-specific and require an evaluation by an attorney and a forensic psychologist.
In every criminal case, both the police and the prosecutor’s office must conduct their investigations and prosecutions consistent with the law.
This means respecting and honoring an accused’s constitutional rights as well as complying with other relevant legal requirements governing the collection, preservation, and disclosure of evidence against the accused.
However, there are sometimes flaws with police investigations that are often overlooked.
It’s important for your attorney to review the police investigation to make certain it’s consistent with the law.
Attorney Morris is trial lawyer who has been providing high-quality legal representation in the areas of state and federal criminal defense for more than 20 years. He’s known for his trial preparation by fellow attorneys, judges and clients alike. As a trial attorney, he’s dedicated to attaining justice in every case, and is always prepared to successfully take on complex legal issues. Barton and his law firm pride themselves on obtaining results for their clients that other attorneys cannot.
Not only does Barton Morris have extensive experience, he also engages in continuing legal education to provide the highest quality legal services. Barton has received specialized scientific training through the American Chemical Society, and is the only forensic lawyer-scientist in Michigan. He attended the prestigious Trial Lawyers College and serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors. Barton Morris is also a board member of several distinguished legal associations including the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, and the DUI Defense Lawyer’s Association Justice Foundation. He’s also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and has graduated from their National Criminal Defense Trial College in Macon, Georgia.
Barton Morris is consistently chosen as a Top Lawyer of Metro Detroit and for DUI/OWI and criminal defense by DBusiness Magazine and Hour Magazine. He has also been chosen as a Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense.