If you are reading this article, chances are you have been arrested in Michigan on a Domestic Violence charge (also called a “Domestic Assault” charge). Under Michigan’s Domestic Violence law, only a Judge or Magistrate can set the terms and conditions of your bond. In other words, a person arrested and charged with Domestic Violence in Michigan cannot get back out of jail pending their Arraignment until there is a Judge or Magistrate available to hold the Arraignment proceeding. Having the right representation can make this process a lot easier, though. If you suspect that you will be facing a Domestic Violence charge in Michigan, you need to contact a competent Michigan Domestic Violence Attorney ASAP. That person may be able to help you make arrangements ahead of time so that you never have to spend even one minute behind bars. By the time a Warrant has been issued for your arrest, or by the time you get arrested, it may already be too late.
A major concern with Domestic Violence cases is that once you do appear for your Arraignment before the local District Court Judge or Magistrate, you will likely be slapped with a bond condition that requires that you have “NO CONTACT” with the alleged victim in the case. When the Court imposes a “NO CONTACT” bond condition, that means ABSOLUTELY NO CONTACT – whether in-person, by telephone, text message, Facebook or other social media, or via third party (you cannot have others do what you are not legally allowed to do). But what if the alleged victim is your spouse or partner with whom you share a home, a vehicle, social functions, or even worse, children? Many of Michigan’s District Courts will set a “conditional bond” at your Arraignment, whereby you will be required to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the Court in order to secure your initial release from the lockup if you violate certain conditions imposed, such as NO CONTACT with your accuser, drug or alcohol testing (depending on your past and the nature of the allegations), and possibly others.
The Law Office of Brian J. Prain, PLLC regularly receives phone calls from men and women alike who are leading a normal life one day until a heated argument gets out of hand and all of a sudden, they are facing a Domestic Violence charge under Michigan law, and a Judge or Magistrate has ordered that there be NO CONTACT with their significant other. If you share a home with that person and things aren’t handled right, you could end up having to move away from home. If you have children in common with that person, you may be barred from seeing your children if things aren’t handled correctly. What is worse, all it takes for your bond to be forfeited and for you to possibly have to serve jail time before your Domestic Violence case is even resolved (if the Court finds it serious enough to treat it as a contempt of court) is for an angry, accusatory spouse or ex to claim that you attempted to call them or send them a message through a third-party!
Luckily, there ARE things that can be done about this problem. The bottom line is that right now, you are 100% INNOCENT; you have been convicted of nothing, and you do not deserve, nor does the Constitution allow, for you to be punished. That is not the idea of bond. Bond simply means conditions imposed on a person for two reasons: 1) to reasonably ensure the safety of the public, and 2) to reasonably ensure that you will return to Court when required. Under Michigan Court Rule 6.106, unless you have a history of violent crimes, you are absolutely entitled to be released on nothing more than (for all practical purposes) your promise to return to Court, with NO conditions.
However, the law makes an exception when it comes to protecting the person accusing you of the Domestic Violence. In all reality, having NO CONTACT with this person is actually one of the best things you can do to defend yourself against your Domestic Violence charge. BUT, you are INNOCENT, and unfortunately, many District Court Judges use the terms and conditions of bond to treat you like you are already on Probation. Not only does this run contrary to your rights as an innocent accused, but it does psychological damage to your own perception of the presumption of your innocence.
Before appearing at your Arraignment, it is important to have an attorney speak with the Police Officer in Charge of your case, as well as the Prosecuting Attorney. Although you may be ordered to have NO CONTACT with the alleged victim, these individuals will be able to contact that person and find out exactly what their feelings are about having contact with you while the case is pending. Each time you appear in Court, including at your Arraignment, your attorney will have an opportunity to inform the Judge if an agreement has been reached with the alleged victim.
Even though you will scarcely be allowed to have physical contact with that person, the Court may approve an agreement to have telephone or third-party contact to facilitate the transfer of your children. Often times, an accused person who would otherwise, by necessity, be required to leave home can remain in the home; it may surprise you to find out that many alleged victims will willingly leave the residence to stay with a parent or other relative. These things are possible, but they are not just offered like candy; they take some skilled advocacy.
If the Court is unwilling to agree with an oral argument on the matter, then a skilled Michigan Domestic Violence Lawyer may decide that it is best to file and serve a written Motion to Modify/Amend/Reduce the terms and conditions of your bond and schedule a hearing on the matter – especially where exigent circumstances exist, such as an alleged victim’s drug or alcohol use leaving the children without proper care. In setting the terms and conditions of bond in a Michigan Domestic Violence case, your Judge has a lot of discretion, but the Court Rule specifies that they look at a non-exhaustive, enumerated list of factors, and a well-written Motion to Modify will allow the Judge to review these factors thoughtfully without the immediate, spoken opposition of the Prosecuting Attorney. Find the right Michigan Domestic Violence Attorney and don’t settle for being punished when you’re innocent.