Michigan Domestic Violence - Your Past CAN Hurt You!

undefinedMichigan Domestic Violence Charges- The Right Defense Lawyer Knows What You Don't...

At Prain Law, PLLC, we concentrate on defending those accused of Domestic Violence.  If you are facing a Michigan Domestic Violence charge, getting the right advice is critical to the outcome of your case - it can even mean the difference between going to jail and remaining free.

One thing that can put your defense in great jeopardy is being accused of other acts of aggression or abusive behaviors in the past.  This affects you whether you plan to take your case to Trial, or are hoping for a Plea Deal or Sentencing Agreement.   This particular vulnerability is due to one of the largest factors used in determining the conditions of a Plea Bargain - how you would stand up at Trial.  Note: the Prosecutor is not obligated to offer a Plea Deal in a Domestic Violence case.

Generally speaking, if you are facing a Michigan Domestic Violence charge, evidence of alleged past accusations (similar circumstances) is not admissible at Trial or other Evidentiary Hearings.  The principle behind this rule is that the justice system demands that, as the defendant, your guilt or innocence be decided on the facts of this case, rather than on an established prejudice or bias.

There are, however, exceptions to every rule!  In 2006, the Michigan Legislature carved out a very specific exception for those facing Michigan Domestic Violence charges.  This can be found in the Code of Criminal Procedure (MCL 768.27b).  If you are a Defendant in one of these cases, you need to know about this dedicated law.

MCL 768.27b reads as follows:

"[i]n a criminal action in which the defendant is accused of an offense involving domestic violence, evidence of the defendant's commission of other acts of domestic violence is admissible for any purpose for which it is relevant, if it is not otherwise excluded under Michigan rule of evidence 403."

1)  The law does not say that the alleged other acts of Michigan Domestic Violence have to involve the same complaining witness; it could be an accusation from a bitter "ex" that you dated a decade ago, whom the Prosecutor interviewed after you were arrested.  The definition of this Michigan Domestic Violence law is broad enough to include a child, parent, or even a past roommate of the same gender.  You can see how damaging evidence of past incidents and arguments (that you've long since forgotten) can be, when stacked against you.

2) The law does not require that you were convicted of these past alleged Michigan Domestic Violence acts.  There is no requirement that you were ever arrested or charged with these accusations.  In fact, there's no requirement that your would-be-accuser ever mentioned the alleged past incident(s) to anyone - ever!

This is particularly dangerous because people can tend to exaggerate (even lie) when being questioned by the Government/Prosecutor due to likely intimidation,or even a prevailing sense of responsibility to corroborate with them.

3) Finally, this exception law contains a definition of "offense involving Michigan Domestic Violence" and "other acts of Michigan Domestic Violence" differently, and more broadly than the definition of Michigan Domestic Violence in the Penal Code.

In this law, the Michigan Legislature said that alleged past conduct of Michigan Domestic Violence that could find its way into Court includes:

i) causing or attempting to cause physical or mental harm to a family or household member

ii) placing a family or household member in fear of physical or mental harm

iii) causing or attempting to cause a family or household member to engage in involuntary sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress

iv) engaging in activity toward a family or household member that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested

The only limitation to this to this Michigan Domestic Violence law is in subsection (4) which says, "[e]vidence of an act occurring more than 10 years before the charged offense is inadmissible under this section, unless the court determines that admitting this evidence is in the interest of justice."

That said,Michigan Domestic Violence events that allegedly happened within a 10 year time frame are admissible in Court, or longer if so deemed as, "in the interest of justice" by the Court.

So, what does this mean to your Michigan Domestic Vilence case?  Likely a conviction - and sadly enough, it happens all too often where cases are not properly defended!

Even if you are only seeking a Plea Bargain - remember, the kind of deal you get is determined by how well your defense is supported at trial.  But, if all someone has to do is make up a story, what defense is there against it?

Actually, there is a lot that a savvy Michigan Domestic Violence Attorney can do to kick this kind of nonsense out of Court.  However, the best Michigan Domestic Violence defense is a proactive one, and waiting until the last minute can be counterproductive.

But whatever the questions of your case may be, PRAIN LAW, PLLC is likely the answer.  We know the intricacies surrounding MCL 768.27b, and we put it to work for our clients to make sure this kind of evidence is not brought into Court.

Call our office at (248) 731-4543 for a free consultation.  Or fill out the form and we'll be glad to answer your questions.  All conversations are considered privilege and confidential.

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