What Happens in a Domestic Assault Case

If you’re reading this article either you or someone close has been charged with domestic assault. This is an overview of the law and your options in a domestic assault case.

What is an Assault and Battery?

This is how I explain an assault and battery to people. A battery is when I punch someone. An Assault is when I threaten to punch someone and have the present ability to carry out the threat, or a tried to punch someone and missed.

What is the “Domestic” in Domestic Assault?

A component of domestic assault is that the alleged offense was committed against a person the defendant

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Dating relationship
  • Child in common
  • Resident or former resident of household

Investigation of Case

The first step will be for your lawyer to begin an investigation and evaluation of the case before you go to Court. We obtain the police report from the prosecution or police and review the report with you. Relevant questions may be:

  • Were there witnesses?
  • Is the case a “he-said she-said case”?
  • When were the police called?
  • What reasons would the accuser have for not being truthful?

Personal Protection Order

Personal protection orders are common in domestic violence cases. A person protection order (PPO) is a civil order that is separate from the criminal domestic violence case. The PPO restrains a person from contacting or assaulting another person.

You are able to challenge a PPO. A challenge the PPO may be essential where the criminal case will go to trial. We can file what’s called a motion to terminate the PPO. This motion will enable us to hold a mini trial that will be similar to the criminal trial that will take place later. This essentially gives us practice for the real trial later.

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A component of many domestic assault cases is the no-contact order. A no-contact order means you may not contact the person who has accused you of the assault while the case is pending and following a conviction. the No-contact order is similar to a PPO.

How Will The Case Be Resolved?

Every criminal case is resolved one of two ways. The choice of resolution is up to the client.

The case may be resolved through a plea or plea bargain. This is where a person admits guilt in exchange for some sort of benefit in return.

For example, a person might plead guilty in exchange for a conviction to a lesser offense, or a promise from the judge for a lenient sentence.

For domestic assault cases, we might negotiate a plea where the case will be dismissed upon successful completion of probation. This is under MCL 769.4a.

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This deal is not a guarantee in all cases. In some courts, obtaining such a deal is very difficult. In other courts, such a deal could be very common. Every court is different.

The second way a case is resolved is through challenging the case – take the case to trial. You have the absolute right to trial, either by jury or judge.

Issues in trial

  • Did an assault or battery actually take place?
  • Was the person’s actions intentional?
  • Did the person act in self-defense?
  • Was the accuser acting wrongly or unfairly?

Each trial involves a unique story line. Every couple is different. The story must be communicated to the jury.

Trial by Jury or Judge?

Generally, lawyers want jury trials. Having a jury of your peers listen to your story is the bedrock constitutional protection in our system.

There may be reasons to schedule a trial by judge, however. The decision should not be made lightly – once you’ve decided to have a trial by judge you waive your right to trial by jury.

Two examples of why one might want a trial by judge and not jury.

  1. The expectation is the accuser will not show up for trial. The case will likely by dismissed if the accuser refuses to cooperate with the prosecution.
  2. The emotions of the case would be handled better by a judge than a jury. A judge might be less persuaded by emotions in some cases, whereas a jury may not be able to look past the emotion.

Each case is different. We will evaluate the case for potential challenges and make the right decision for you.

End of the Case

A win at trial or dismissal of the case means you walk away. A conviction at trial or guilty plea will mean the case will proceed to sentencing. At sentencing, the judge will determine the consequences. Possible sentences:

  • Jail
  • Probation
  • Both jail and probation
  • Community service
  • Anger management or domestic violence educational courses
  • Fines and costs

At sentencing, you and your attorney may address the judge and make a statement.

We have represented clients in many domestic assault cases, taking cases to trial and negotiating pleas. We have experience representing clients on domestic assault charges in courts throughout metro Detroit and southeastern Michigan.

Contact Us

Call Sam Bernstein 734.883.9584 or e-mail at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Read more: Domestic Violence

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