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Michigan Domestic Violence Laws

The state of Michigan defines domestic violence as a pattern of learned behavior in which one person uses physical, sexual, and emotional abuse to control another person against a household or family member. You don't have to be married to someone to be a victim of domestic violence. Any crime can be an act of domestic violence if perpetrated as a means of controlling another person who is a family or household member including:

  • Arson;
  • Assault;
  • Exortion;
  • Homicide or attempted murder;
  • Kidnapping or unlawful imprisonment;
  • Obstruction of justice;
  • Prohibited conduct against a pregnant woman causing death, miscarriage, stillbirth, or physical injury to the embryo or fetus.

Who Is a Family or Household Member?

The law protects individuals who are abused by present or past spouses, parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household. It can also be used to get temporary custody, financial support, and other assistance for the abused person.

Additionally, a prosecutor may seek charges under Michigan's stalking laws.

Most of the laws relevant to domestic violence are based on state law. This includes restraining or protection orders, divorce, custody, crimes, and more.

What Protections Are Available in Addition to Criminal Prosecution?

There are several remedies and legal protections available for victims of domestic violence in Michigan. These may include:

  • Temporary Restraining Order (TRO): These are issued by a judge as a temporary measure. A TRO may require the offender to change residencies or avoid contact with the victim.

  • Permanent Restraining Order: These are issued after a full hearing and may be part of the sentencing for the defendant. These may last an indefinite period of time and also order the defendant not to make contact with the victim

  • Civil lawsuit: The victim may file a civil lawsuit to recover losses and expenses such as medical bills or pain and suffering damages

  • Custody/child or spousal support orders: These may be modified to prevent any further incidence of violence between spouses, children, or other persons

The following table highlights the main provisions of the Michigan's Domestic Violence Laws. See Harassment, Restraining Orders, and Filing a Domestic Violence Lawsuit for more information.

Code Sections The Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Act: MCL § 400.1501 et seq.
Other Names

Domestic Assault, Aggravated Domestic Assault

What is Prohibited?
  • Causing or attempting to cause physical or mental harm to a family or household member.

  • Placing a family or household member in fear of physical or mental harm.

  • Causing or attempting to cause a family or household member to engage in involuntary sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress.

  • Engaging in activity toward a family or household member that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.

Statute of Limitations 6 years after the offense is committed.
Relationship Requirement
  • Spouse or former spouse;
  • Dating relationship or former dating relationship;
  • Child in common; or
  • Resident or former resident of the same household.

Felony (Repeat Offenders) or misdemeanor (depending on the crime): probation, jail time, anger management classes, community service, fines, and restitution to the victim(s). Factors, such as prior offenses or history of domestic violence, help determine the severity of the punishment. Sentences may also include a restraining or protective order.

Types of Protective Orders Available

Personal Protective Orders (PPO).


Protect Your Right to Counsel: Contact a Michigan Defense Attorney Today

Have you or someone you know been accused of a domestic violence-related crime in Michigan? The repercussions of a conviction can be extreme. Because domestic laws can sometimes get complicated, it is a good idea to consult an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer to help you answer your specific questions. 

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