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Second Domestic Violence Charge Dismissed
In this case our client was charged with a domestic violence and had a prior offense, making this new case his second one. Although the prosecutor did not originally charge this as a second offense, he had legal grounds to do so. Michigan law would allow the prosecutor to "amend" the charge at almost any time, so there was always the threat of a second offense. This was no idle threat because a second offense domestic violence is punishable by up to a year in jail, which is four times as much jail time as a first offense. Also, when a person has a prior deferral Michigan Compiled Laws 769.4a, they cannot "defer" a second offense.
Because our client had a prior 769.4a deferral from a prior domestic assault that had arisen from a past relationship, he could not avoid a conviction a second time. Thus, even with the threat of a second offense hanging over our client's head, we continued to push the case and attempt to negotiate a better deal. The prosecutor's initial response was that our client had already gotten "his break" because he wasn't charging him with a second, and therefore, there would be no further "deals."
We couldn't take no for an answer. A domestic violence on our client's record would be devastating professionally. It just wasn't acceptable. Additionally, we believed he was innocent of the allegations.
During our investigation of the case it was determined that the involved law enforcement had arrived on scene and made some very quick and uninformed decisions about what had occurred. These decisions and their underlying assumptions of abuse were quickly made prior to placing our client in handcuffs, arresting him and placing him into the patrol car. While this is common during emotional situations where law enforcement often apply their training and attempt to de-escalate the situation and protect everyone, in this case it resulted in a bogus police charge. Confirmation bias had set in, and the police wouldn't budge from their initial ill-informed conclusions.
Our independent, non-conclusory and thorough investigation showed a contrary explanation for what had occurred. We used all the information we'd collected to demonstrate to the prosecutor that in fact no assault, battery or even altercation took place. As a result, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the domestic violence charge entirely in exchange for a plea of guilty to the much less serious crime of disorderly person. Our client only paid a small fine and served a brief period of probation with no up front jail.