What to do and say if arrested for Domestic Assault and Battery.
Finding yourself arrested or charged with Domestic Assault and Battery can be a very stressful and a difficult position to be in. In most legal cases involving domestic assault and battery, the accused is left without the proper resources and information to adequately protect their rights and defend themselves against a domestic assault charge. This article details the Top 5 tips you must know if you or a loved one has been accused or arrested for domestic assault:
1.) Do Not Speak to the Police if Arrested for Domestic Assault and Battery.
Typically a situation involving domestic assault and battery will result in one or both of the parties involved calling the police or a third party/neighbor will call the police to report the incident. When the police arrive, understand that you have absolutely no obligation to speak to the police or make a oral/written statement to law enforcement. Because domestic disputes can create extremely hostile environments, the police will seek to first diffuse the situation by separating the parties involved into separate areas before they make an arrest. Law enforcement will often use any statements you make to them against you in determining whom to arrest. Furthermore, these statements made at the scene can be used against you in court if you are subsequently criminally charged for Domestic Assault and Battery, so it is best not to speak at all to the police to help preserve your innocence and protect your constitutional rights to remain silent.
2) Be Prepared to have “No Contact” with the Alleged Victim of the Assault.
If arrested and charged criminally with Domestic Assault and Battery, the first step in the legal process will be your arraignment before a Magistrate. The arraignment is where you will be officially “charged” before the court and the magistrate will determine bond. In Domestic Assault and Battery cases, the Magistrate will often issue a “no contact order”, ordering the defendant to have no contact whatsoever with the alleged victim of the assault. This no contact order can include calling or texting the victim; reaching out to the victim or the victim’s family via social media; arriving at a person’s place of residence, business, or employment; and can even exclude you from residing at your home if the alleged victim lives at the same residence as well.
Your strict observance and following of the no contact order is tantamount to a successful defense of your criminal charges. A violation of your no contact order can result in a revocation of your bond; incriminating statements made by you can be used against you in court; and you face the potential of being levied with additional criminal charges such as tampering with a witness. Your best solution is to speak with your attorney to discuss any issues you may have with the no contact order so these issues can resolve themselves in open court before the judge without harming you in any way.
Conversely, if the alleged victim continues to contact you despite your best efforts to abide by the no contact order, bring this to the attention of your attorney immediately!
3) Protect Your Parental/Custody Rights and Property Rights to the Fullest Extent Possible
Parties involved in a domestic assault and battery case will often have children in common as well as property in common. Just because you have been charged with domestic violence or assault and battery does not mean that you automatically lose your parental rights, custody rights, or visitation rights. However, being charged with domestic assault and battery and a resulting conviction can negatively impact you in each of these areas. Furthermore, property issues such as your home, finances, and personal belongings are jeopardized as well if charged or convicted of domestic assault and battery.
While focusing on the criminal aspect of your domestic violence case is extremely important, you will want to remain vigilant in understanding all your rights that can be affected, especially when it comes to your family and property rights. Reaching out to a skilled Attorney early on in the process following your arrest or immediately after you have been charged with domestic assault and battery will help you to protect your personal and family interests that can be greatly impacted throughout your criminal process.
4) Understand Your Rights and Direction of Your Case Throughout the Court Process.
A criminal conviction for domestic assault and battery can have life altering consequences. Thus gaining a firm understanding of your rights in court as well as obtaining a firm grasp on the direction you want your case to take is key to obtaining a successful resolution of your assault case. Should you go to trial or take a plea deal? Are there any favorable witnesses available who can testify on your behalf? Do you have a full understanding of all of the evidence against you and in favor of you in your case? Do the facts in your case support a dismissal of the criminal charges? What to do if the victim no longer wants to prosecute? What are my rights if I acted in self-defense? If convicted, what legal consequences will you face? What about your employment or any child custody issues resulting from a domestic assault and battery conviction? These issues and several others should all be discussed with your Attorney in detail before you make any legal decisions affecting your legal rights and the eventual outcome of your case. Having a clear picture of your objectives and goals going into a criminal matter will aide you greatly by placing you in the best position possible to address your domestic assault charges in the court of law.
5) Know the difference between Pleading to a Reduced Plea or 769.4a vs Going To Trial
As mentioned above, understanding your rights and the direction of your case is very important if you plan to successfully defend against a domestic assault and battery charge. Unless your case ultimately get’s dismissed, you will at some point have to determine whether to plead guilty to the offense or go to trial. In most cases (not all cases however) first time offenders will usually be offered a plea deal to either reduce the domestic assault charge or plead under Michigan’s Spousal Abuse Act, MCL 769.4a. Under MCL 769.4a, with the consent of the victim, a person is typically placed on probation for 12 months or more and ordered to complete a number of probationary conditions such as anger management counseling and batters classes; drug or alcohol treatment;family counseling; and other court conditions the judge may impose.
The Benefit of a 769.4a plea
The benefit of a 769.4a plea is that the plea is never placed on your criminal record and after your probationary term has been successfully completed your case will be officially dismissed. Be mindful however that a plea under 769.4a does entail a “plea of guilty” before the court, and it is never advisable to plead guilty if you are indeed innocent. Conversely, understand that a trial is a specific fact-finding process in which the prosecution (not yourself) has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are indeed guilty of domestic assault and battery. A trial is where witnesses, including the victim can testify before a judge and jury regarding the evidence and facts of what happened during the alleged assault. The Judge or Jury will then deliberate on the evidence and render a verdict. In many cases a trial is the last process in which a defendant may be exonerated before the Court. While a 769.4a plea offer is no longer available if you have been convicted at trial, having an engaged and informative discussion about your trial rights and plea options with your Attorney is extremely necessary and beneficial to you in helping you reach the best outcome for your case.
About Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates PLLC:
At the Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates, PLLC, “Guarding Reputations, Restoring Lives, and Protecting Freedom’s” has continued to be their primary objective by providing superior client services, aggressive legal representation, and winning results. Attorney Kevin Bessant specializes in Criminal Defense Litigation for persons charged with drunk driving, criminal expungements, domestic violence, weapon and gun offenses, drug charges, felony and misdemeanor offenses, and Federal crimes. Serving Wayne County, Oakland County, Macomb County, Washtenaw County, and Monroe County in Michigan.