If charged with domestic violence in Michigan, you may be eligible for this program. Under this program the Court “may defer further proceedings and place [you] on probation . . . without entering an adjudication of guilt.” MCL 769.4a(1).
Then, “upon fulfillment of the terms and conditions [of probation], the Court shall discharge [you] and dismiss the proceedings against [you] . . . without an adjudication of guilt,” such that you do not have any “conviction . . . for purposes of [the usual] disqualifications or disabilities imposed by law upon a conviction” for Domestic Violence or Aggravated Domestic Violence (i.e. impairment of your 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, etc.). MCL 769.4a(5).
As long as you complete probation successfully, the court will dismiss the case. The matter will be non-public and the only way to access the record would be if you were charged again, a prosecutor for purposes of seeing if you have a record, may review a non public record. This means an employer should not be able to see the incident.
While this seems like a great outcome (it is), there are a number of ways to pursue options where you may be able to avoid probation and the chances of violating in which this would go on your record, and you would likely go to jail.
The prosecutor must also agree to this deal; many prosecutors in Michigan are very picky about when this is offered, and I've had clients have to set their cases for trial, because a prosecutor refused. My proactive program has changed a lot of prosecutors minds, which may not otherwise have offered this outcome.
If charged with DV in Michigan, the alleged victim will speak to a victim advocate who is usually employed by the state and either part of the prosecutor's office or works closely with the prosecutor. That advocate has special training and access to resources for a true victim of domestic violence.
It's not common that the alleged victim has direct contact with the prosecutor other than potentially prepping for a trial. Prosecutors in Michigan for the most part do not dismiss cases because the victim requests it - they consider their wishes in maybe reducing charges or offering 769.4A status, but the case doesn't go away upon request. So no, your spouse cannot get the case dismissed by asking the prosecutor. If they wish to be helpful, they can expand on information of the case, and maybe clarify that the incident was more mutual than first thought and if they made statements out of anger and not truth, then they should clarify or make a new statement. It will help in resolving the case, and would provide a more accurate account of the case for both sides.
If charged with domestic violence in Michigan, the prosecutor on behalf of the State of Michigan or local city, township, village etc is the party charging you, not the alleged victim. Essentially, the victim is a mere witness to the domestic violence you committed against the people of the entire state, village, city etc.
Let's use the City of Novi as an example. My client is arrested for domestic violence by the Novi Police Department; the prosecutor will either be the City of Novi or the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office. That prosecutor is the one charging you, the alleged victim is only part of the facts and a potential witness for a trial.
If the alleged victim requests the case to be dropped, it can't directly happen because they are not a party to the case. The prosecutor would need to consider this request and agree; that DOES NOT happen, because a prosecutor assumes the alleged victim is simply doing what the client wants or is scared to pursue the case. Even if that alleged victim says my client did nothing wrong, it was a misunderstanding, that statement is likely to be the opposite of what was conveyed at the scene which was the basis of the arrest. Essentially the prosecutor will believe the past statement over the new statement.
There are other ways to get DV cases dismissed, but none of them involve a prosecutor openly dismissing the case on a public record. DV in Michigan is too much of a hot button issue to be dismissing cases; the thought is, what if this happens again and someone is seriously hurt or killed, we can't just be dismissing cases that may or may not have happened. Some prosecutors will simply let the case be set for trial, and if the victim does not show, the case will be dismissed, but at least the prosecutor can cover their butt and say, well the victim didn't show, I could not proceed.
Every case is different, and a small portion of domestic violence cases do not have a clear path to dismissal. If you have a prior DV case, or a number of prior incidents against the same person, it will be difficult to get the prosecutor to agree to resolve the case with anything but a conviction on your record - under this scenario, you would need to set the case for trial.
Assuming you have never had a prior DV case or documented incident on the books, working toward a dismissal is very much possible. Here is one situation where a client's case may be able to get dismissed.
#1 - Upon being arrested, we obtain all police reports, videos, audio and statements related to the case. There will be a no-contact order in place, so my client can't communicate with the victim, but as an attorney, I would be able to reach out if necessary. We make a plan to go to court, and if the other party is agreeable, we seek to remove the no-contact order. This allows my client to resume a somewhat regular life and have their mind in the right place to assist in their defense.
During this time, my client is undergoing voluntary alcohol and drug testing, especially if these substances were involved in the incident. I will have my client get into counseling to begin better understanding the process and learning from it. If my client is allowed to have contact with the alleged victim, I would try to get them into a joint counseling to begin to fix what lead up to the incident and begin transitioning things into a private situation vs a public embarrassment at the courthouse.
#2 - The alleged victim will chat with a victim advocate, and if they are supportive of a favorable resolution, that will be conveyed to the prosecutor who will then be open to my requests. The prosecutor will not simply drop the case upon request, it does not work that way in Michigan. As long as the alleged victim is open to making the case non-public, the prosecutor may authorize 769.4A status as part of a plea resolution. It's not easy as you may think to receive this deal, because the prosecutor must offer it and confer with the alleged victim.
#3 - If the 769.4A is on the table, and my client determines it is the best option for his case, then we will formalize the deal and confer with the judge about avoiding upfront jail, which is likely. My client must be prepared to be on probation and fulfill the requirements of the court; a violation of probation could mean this offense going on my client's record. Ideally we have knocked out a number of these requirements proactively, and my client is left with complying with staying out of trouble, avoiding alcohol, drugs, and paying fines and costs. If my client still has counseling, community service and other requirements to fill, we need to make sure we have a plan for success to knock these out as quickly as possible.
Each DV case in Michigan is different; yes that's obvious, but let's go over some of things factors.
#1 - Who is the alleged victim in the case, and are you prepared to have them come to court and testify against you?
#2 - If they don't want to come testify, are you prepared to have the judge issue a material witness warrant and have them arrested and brought to court?
#3 - Do you want your case being a public proceeding with the community, media and the general public having access to the details of the case?
#4 - Will going to trial and being found guilty prevent you from receiving an otherwise satisfactory outcome, which might be worked out prior to trial? Example - a dismissal, favorable sentencing deal the judge or reduction in charges
#5 - Are you prepared for the financial and mental strain of putting your family on trial? Lasting impressions and memories are made for the worse in a criminal trial, and going to trial will cost you a lot of money in attorney fees. Is it worth it?
#6 - If the prosecutor won't budge on a deal, and you didn't do anything wrong then yes, you should go to trial because you're innocent. Your reputation, career and future are on the line.