The Grand Rapids Domestic Violence Attorneys at Miel & Carr usually see prosecutors charge domestic violence as a misdemeanor. However, it can be charged as a felony, depending on the facts of the case. If you have been accused of domestic violence in Michigan, you should contact a reputable domestic violence attorney to discuss your case before speaking to the police.
Generally speaking, domestic violence is charged as a 93 day misdemeanor pursuant to MCL 750.81(2):
“an individual who assaults or assaults and batters 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 his or her household, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.”
However, if you have been convicted of domestic violence on two prior occasions, the prosecutor can charge you with a felony in Michigan. A successful deferral under MCL 769.4a counts as a conviction. Third offense domestic violence is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.00. Also, a prosecutor can charge a felony if you are accused of strangling or suffocating someone. Assault by strangulation is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Regardless of whether you have been charged with misdemeanor or felony domestic violence, the Lautenberg Amendment makes it a federal crime for anyone convicted of a crime of domestic violence to possess a firearm or ammunition. This means that federal law will forever prevent you from hunting with a rifle or possessing a pistol.
In Michigan, you have a right to defend yourself against anyone — even your spouse or girlfriend. To be defending yourself, you don’t have to be afraid of death or serious injury. You don’t have to be losing a fight. However, to defend yourself, you must have an honest and reasonable fear that the other person is going to assault or batter you (e.g., push, shove, kick, hit, spit, etc). If you have an honest and reasonable belief that the other person is going to assault you, you can act at once to defend yourself. You’re allowed to use as much force as seems reasonable at the time. A prosecutor isn’t allowed to later convict you through the use of hindsight. If you used more force than was necessary because of the excitement of the moment, the law still allows you to assert a defense of self-defense.
If you have been accused of Domestic Violence in Michigan, contact a Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney at 616-773-2945.