In any criminal prosecution involving allegations that the defendant committed a violent crime such as aggravated assault or murder, important issues such as intent, self-defense and witness credibility come into play. In many cases, competing versions of events must be considered, and this issue is very likely to arise in domestic violence cases.
The latest full-year statistics from the Michigan Incident Crime Reporting (MICR) Section of the Michigan State Police reveal that more than 101,000 domestic violence offenses were reported by Michigan law enforcement in 2010. In more than 50 percent of those cases, the alleged victim and offender were married or had a romantic relationship. Over 70 percent of the victims were female, but more than 28,000 male victims of domestic assault (and nearly 26,000 female offenders) were reported in 2010.
While the gender data clearly shows that both women and men are frequently charged with domestic violence in Michigan, it also suggests an important underlying issue: Many domestic dispute police calls are the result of escalating arguments and violence between two people, only one of whom is ultimately charged with a crime.
Under Michigan law, domestic violence is defined as several types of acts that cannot be considered self‐defense, including:
- Causing physical or mental harm to a family member or other household resident, or attempting to cause such harm
- Creating fear of physical or mental harm to a family or household member
- Using force, threats of force or duress to engage or attempt to engage a family or household member in involuntary sexual acts
- Terrorizing, frightening, intimidating, harassing, or molesting activity toward a family or household member
Domestic violence charges are based solely on the relationship between the victim and the offender, but can be accompanied by charges of assault and battery or attempted homicide. However, according to the MICR, in the vast majority of domestic violence investigations where injuries were assessed, the victim suffered either no injury or only an apparent minor injury.
People who have been charged with domestic violence and related violent crimes should understand the importance of protecting their legal rights and criminal record. A Michigan criminal defense attorney can explain a likely course of action and strategies for pursuing a favorable legal outcome.