Grand Rapids Domestic Violence Attorneys
Professional, Calculated Litigators with a Great Track Record
At Scozzari Graham, PLLC, we take every case very seriously and put the whole team on the case. When you enlist the help of our law firm, you can expect to have three attorneys looking at your case and building your defense strategy. With a proven track record, our lawyers have the professional skill and experience to fight for your side.
What Constitutes Domestic Assault?
A person commits domestic violence by assaulting a current or former spouse, an individual with whom they are or were in a dating relationship, an individual with whom the person has a child, or a current or former resident of their household. If the defendant has no prior convictions for domestic violence crimes, a charge of domestic assault or battery will be considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine. If the assault caused serious or aggravated injury, the defendant could face up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, if a convicted individual 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, they could face enhanced penalties up to 1 year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine:
- assault and battery;
- felonious 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 2 or more such prior convictions, their domestic assault or domestic assault and battery conviction may result in a prison sentence of up to 2 years and/or a $2,500 fine.
Protection Order Violations
An individual may seek protection from domestic violence by filing a petition with a circuit court’s family division, requesting 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.
The person may request an ex parte personal protection order before holding a formal hearing or notifying the respondent (the person the petitioner seeks protection from) that the petition has been filed. A judge will usually grant an ex parte personal protection order if the petitioner’s affidavit clearly states immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result from any delay caused by the time it takes to notify the respondent of the petition or from adverse actions taken upon notification of the petition.
A personal protection order may prohibit a person’s partner from doing any of the following:
- entering the premises of the petitioner;
- 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 partners’ minor child that disclose the petitioner and child’s telephone number, address, or 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 them to reasonably fear violence.
Once an ex parte order is issued, the judge will schedule a hearing, and the respondent will be provided with notice of the petition and the hearing. After conducting the hearing, the court may choose to issue a long-term personal protection order if the judge finds reasonable cause to believe that the respondent may commit one or more of the acts outlined above. Note that the petitioner does not necessarily need to present a police report, medical report, or physical signs of abuse in order for the judge to decide on a protection order.
Any violation of the terms of a personal order of protection may result in charges of criminal contempt, which carries up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Authorized Arrest Without Warrant
Be aware that 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 they have a warrant or whether the crime took place in the officer’s presence, if the officer has reasonable cause to believe that a suspect committed domestic violence.
An officer may also conduct an arrest without a warrant if they have reason to believe that a person is subject to a personal protection order and has violated one of the order’s terms as listed above.
Seek an Experienced Lawyer to Defend You
If you have been charged with domestic violence, whether for an alleged act of assault or for violating the terms of an existing protection order, it is best to consult an experienced attorney about next steps in the legal process. Our legal team at Scozzari Graham, PLLC can help you craft a strong defense to fight any unfair charges in court or represent you in a protection order hearing.