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What Is a Charge of “Domestic Violence” in Michigan?

Every Wednesday morning, the Ann Arbor 15th District Court has a full, busy docket solely dedicated to Domestic Violence cases.

Every Thursday afternoon, the Chelsea 14a3 District Court has a full, busy docket solely dedicated to Domestic Violence cases.

Every Thursday morning, the Ypsilanti 14a2 District Court has a full, busy docket solely dedicated to Domestic Violence Cases.

See a pattern here?

Washtenaw County courts are busy with tons of Domestic Violence cases every day. Finding yourself charged with one can be intense, scary, and overwhelming. Especially when charged with a specialized Domestic Violence docket, where it can feel like the deck is stacked against you—even from the first time you appear in court. In most cases, for example, the accused is ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim, even if it’s a first-offense allegation and even if the victim wants to have contact. This stay-away order can last during the whole case--often for weeks or even months.

In Michigan, a charge of Domestic Violence is a charge of Assault and/or Assault and Battery—if committed against a spouse, significant other, co-habitant etc. Say a person gets into a bar fight in Ann Arbor, he may be charged with “standard” Assault and Battery and his case will end up on a “normal” docket. If that same person allegedly pushes or hits his girlfriend, he’ll be charged with Domestic Violence and his case will be the “special” docket. How is the docket “special?” Not in a favorable way. There is more scrutiny, personnel, pre-trial testing/monitoring, severe bond conditions, and resources dedicated by the police, prosecutors and probation departments.

Dan Geherin, owner of the Geherin Law Group PLLC. in Ann Arbor, has both prosecuted and defended domestic violence cases in his 22+year career. As a former prosecutor, Dan prosecuted emotionally-charged domestic violence cases from start to finish. As a board-certified criminal defense attorney in Washtenaw County, Dan has defended thousands of Domestic Violence allegations, from serious injury allegations such as Strangulation, to “lower-level” (yet serious) allegations such as grabbing, or threatening, or pushing a loved one. Dan has a long, verifiable track record of success defending Domestic Violence allegations, both in terms of trial victories, voluntary dismissals and successful negotiations.

Every day, Dan answers calls from people facing allegations of Domestic Violence. Many ask these same questions:

“What is Domestic Violence? What must be proven?”

“Is Domestic Violence a misdemeanor, or felony?”

“How do I prove my innocence if I didn’t commit this offense”

“Will I go to jail/prison if I’m guilty of Domestic Violence?”

“If my spouse wants the charges dismissed, will the whole criminal charge simply go away?”

Domestic Violence charges are brought by the State, City or Township Prosecutor—not by the individual complainant/alleged victim. Charges range from a 93-day maximum misdemeanor offense to a 4-year maximum felony offense. What typically explains the wide difference in charges? Two factors: Degree of Injury and Prior Domestic Violence conviction(s) (if applicable).

Unfortunately, these charges are occasionally imposed by a disgruntled lover or angry spouse aiming to get advantage in a divorce/custody fight. Likewise, people are often arrested for Domestic Violence when in reality the complainant/alleged victim does not want or request prosecution.

For people facing these reputation-altering allegations, the best option is to consult with an experienced, aggressive, intelligent criminal defense attorney with a history of successfully defending these allegations. For people who are guilty, they may need the skilled hand of an attorney to negotiate a favorable outcome short of a conviction and/or long-term incarceration. Whether guilty or innocent, those faced with the scary prospect of a Domestic Violence charge need a dedicated, experienced, and aggressive criminal defense attorney such as Dan Geherin and his team at GLGMichigan.

If you’re charged with Domestic Violence in Ann Arbor (or throughout Washtenaw County), please contact Dan Geherin and his firm, GLG Michigan, immediately. We’re available 24/7. We’ll help put you at ease, form a plan to handle your case, and fight aggressively to restore your reputation and protect your freedom.

Schedule online at or call (734) 263-2780.

GLG Michigan: Defending Domestic Violence allegations throughout Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and Southeastern Michigan.