Domestic violence occurs when a crime is committed against a victim by someone with whom the victim is, or previously has been, involved in an intimate relationship or someone who lives in the same household as the victim. Domestic violence can include any type of physical harm caused by someone who fits the above definition and in some states it may also include a pattern of intimidation or fear that leads a victim to believe that harm is imminent. Michigan's broad and liberal statute regarding domestic assault results in many accusations against people who never anticipated the need for a criminal defense attorney to handle their domestic violence defense.

Typically, if a person’s actions would constitute illegal physical violence against a stranger, the existence of a marriage, an intimate relationship, or other familial relationship (such as siblings, parent- child etc.) does not excuse nor does it justify the illegal behavior and victim is entitled to relief.  If an accused domestic violenceperpetrator is convicted in a criminal trial then the perpetrator may face jail time and fines. Since domestic violence is a crime, the county or state prosecutors may bring an action against a perpetrator without the assistance or consent of a victim. Many prosecutors bring cases without the assistance of the victim if the victim has been subject to a pattern of abuse over a period of time or if the violence was particularly egregious.