As a Defense Lawyer, I hear the question all too often: “will my Domestic Violence charge be dismissed if she doesn’t show-up for court?” The bottom-line is that the answer is “maybe,” but it’s more complex than you might think. I will explain a few key things in this article. But first, I want to point out that I use the word “she” when referring to the Victim (properly, Complainant) in a DV charge, because the reality is that most Complainant’s are women, and most accused are men. Back to the question at hand . . .
The first question is what type of hearing it is. Often times, the Complainant in a Domestic Violence Charge in Michigan will be Subpoenaed by Prosecutors to appear at less-significant hearings, such as a Pretrial Conference. The point of doing so is so that the Prosecutors can consult with them and find out how they would like to see the case resolved under the Michigan Crime Victim Rights Act. If the Complainant fails to appear for a Pretrial Conference, it is totally unlikely that your Michigan Domestic Violence Charge will be dismissed. In-fact, neither I nor any other Michigan Domestic Violence Lawyer that I know has ever had a Domestic Violence Charge dismissed just because the Complainant did not appear for a Pretrial Conference. It simply doesn’t seem to happen. Any other Domestic Violence Defense Attorney who tells you otherwise should be viewed with caution.
On the other hand, if it is your Trial date in your Domestic Violence case and the Complainant fails to show-up despite being Subpoenaed, many Judges will readily grant your Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer’s motion to dismiss, even though some Prosecutors will ask the Judge to give them an “adjournment” (more time) to attempt to track them down. Additionally, some Prosecutors, on their own initiative, will tell the Judge “the Victim has failed to appear, and we are unable to proceed.”
HOWEVER, in certain Domestic Violence criminal cases, on the day of Trial, the Complainant may not appear and deemed legally “unavailable,” and if the Prosecution has filed a document called a Notice of Intent under a Michigan Domestic Violence law called MCL 768.27c, the United States Supreme Court has said that they just might be able to get away with continuing to prosecute you at Trial despite the Victim’s absence, even though your Domestic Violence Attorney cannot exercise your 6th Amendment Right to cross-examine (or “confront”) this accuser of yours. But that all depends on whether some strict legal requirements have been met, and the Michigan Court’s disagree.
Is your Domestic Violence Defense Attorney prepared to meet these legal challenges? Call The Law Office of Brian J. Prain, PLLC anytime at (248) 763-0641. More comfortable with confidential e-mail? Send us a message online by filling out or Custom Contact Form. Each additional minute you wait, the strength of your defense could diminish.