To be assault, there must be an intent to cause physical harm that accompanies the action.
If the defendant lacked intent, the prosecution cannot legally prove a domestic violence charge in Michigan.
For example, if the defendant accidentally slipped on an icy sidewalk and fell into the alleged victim, causing the alleged victim to fall and break their wrist, the defendant didn’t have the requisite intent to commit assault.
Likewise, a passenger injured in an auto accident while the defendant was driving isn’t the victim of an assault.
However, if the defendant deliberately swerved into traffic to cause a crash, the driver assaulted the passenger.
Circumstances: The events leading to the alleged assault.
Statements: Statements by the defendant and the alleged victim before and during the alleged assault.
History: Prior incidents between the defendant and the alleged victim can help infer intent.
3. Special Circumstances
The difference between ordinary assault and domestic violence is the existence of a relationship between the victim and the defendant.
Specifically, Michigan domestic violence laws require the defendant and alleged victim to be:
Spouses or ex-spouses.
In a dating relationship.
Parents of a child.
Current or former roommates.
If prosecutors cannot prove one of these relationships, it cannot prove domestic violence.
Another special circumstance that exists in Michigan domestic violence laws is the enhancement of penalties for repeat offenders.
For a first offense, a defendant convicted of domestic violence can be sentenced to jail up to 93 days and fined up to $500.
However, if prosecutors can prove the defendant has previously been convicted of a domestic violence charge in Michigan or another state, it can request:
2nd offense for domestic violence: Up to one year in jail and $1,000 fine.
3rd offense for domestic violence (or more): Up to 5 years in jail and $5,000 fine.
Role of a Michigan Domestic Violence Attorney
An attorney experienced in defending against criminal charges, like domestic violence, ensures your rights are protected and forces the prosecution to prove all the elements of its case.
If a prosecutor lacks the legal proof to support a domestic violence charge, a domestic violence attorney can push the prosecution to drop the charges, persuade the judge to dismiss the charges, or convince a jury to return a “not guilty” verdict.