What’s the Difference Between Michigan Domestic Assault and Domestic Violence?

What’s the Difference Between Michigan Domestic Assault and Domestic Violence?

Both domestic violence and domestic assault in Michigan are crimes based on the same law.  In other words, they are two different names for the same crime.  The more common name is domestic violence.  Both crimes are based on section 81 of the Michigan criminal code, found at MCLA § 750.81.

A person, either a man or a woman, can be charged with domestic assault as part of a police investigation resulting from a domestic dispute.  During a heated argument, a neighbor or one of the domestic partners, might call 911 to report the disturbance.  Then, when the police arrive, they are charged with the task of interviewing the various parties and determining what level of intervention is necessary and appropriate.  Sometimes, the police will simply separate the individuals involved for a period of time to allow a cooling down of flared tempers.  Other times, the police will take the person they think is more responsible or more aggressive, into custody.  This person may end up later being charged with domestic assault or domestic violence.

Simply being involved in an argument with another person is not enough to be charged with the crime of domestic violence.  This crime first requires that you be in a domestic relationship with the other person involved, meaning the person assaulted is one of the following:

  1. Your current spouse,
  2. Your former spouse,
  3. An individual whom you are dating,
  4. An individual with whom you had a dating relationship in the past. A “dating relationship” means frequent, intimate association primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional involvement. It does not include a causal relationship or an ordinary fraternization between two individuals in a business or social context.
  5. Someone with whom you have a child in common, or
  6. A resident or former resident of your household

Next you must actually commit an assault or an assault and battery against such a person.  Michigan law defines an assault as the fear of an unwanted touching, whereas a battery is an actual unwanted touching.  Michigan Criminal Jury Instruction defines the terms “domestic battery” and “domestic assault” as follows:

  • A battery is the forceful, violent, or offensive touching of a person or something closely connected with him or her. The touching must have been intended, that is, not accidental, and it must have been against another’s will.
  • An assault is an attempt to commit a battery or an act that would cause a reasonable person to fear or apprehend an immediate battery. An assault cannot happen by accident. To be charged with domestic assault you must have had the ability to commit a battery, or must have appeared to have the ability, or must have thought you had the ability.

There are many defenses to domestic violence charges in Michigan.  Also, depending on the circumstances, there are different ways to keep such charges from ever appearing on your record.  An experience domestic violence lawyer will help you understand if the charges against you are proper, and what defenses may apply based on the facts and circumstances of your case.

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