NewsCrime and Courts


Motion to dismiss federal charge against Michael DeFrance heard in court

Michael DeFrance is the ex-boyfriend of missing woman Jermain Charlo
U.S. District Court in Missoula
Posted at 4:36 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-18 20:35:36-04

MISSOULA — A hearing took place Monday afternoon at U.S District Court in Missoula on a Motion to Dismiss a federal indictment against the former boyfriend of missing woman Jermain Charlo.

Michael DeFrance has pleaded not guilty to the charge of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

At the hearing, DeFrance's court-appointed attorney Michael Donahoe argued that the charges be dismissed.

Judge Dana Christensen did not issue a decision on the motion. MTN News spoke with the prosecution team who indicated it could take about a week.

DeFrance originally appeared in court on Aug. 2 on a federal indictment related to a 2013 assault involving Charlo.

The motion to dismiss was filed on Aug. 18 on grounds of lack of specificity and issue with the Montana Partner or Family Member Assault (PFMA) definition.

Donahoe called the definition “overbroad” causing conflict with the federal code being used to charge DeFrance.

Judge Christensen called the specificity argument a “tough sell,” and the PFMA definition issue a “closer call.” He also indicated siding with DeFrance could have implications for other federal firearm violations.

During the hearing, DeFrance’s court-appointed attorney Michael Donahoe said he plans to file an additional Motion to Dismiss.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Clark opposed the motion.

Clark said during the hearing that the government carries the burden of proving the relationship between DeFrance and Charlo at trial.

Authorities have not brought forward charges connecting DeFrance to Charlo’s disappearance at this time.

While a trial is set for Oct. 4, Judge Dana Christensen indicated it will likely be pushed back.

If convicted of the most serious charge, DeFrance faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.