If charged with domestic violence in Michigan, you have the option of going to trial. Trial should be the last option if a deal cannot be worked out ahead of time or the prosecutor refuses to dismiss despite you believing you are incident of the offense charged.
Assuming we set the case for trial, a jury trial means 6 members of the community hearing testimony and deciding guilt or not guilty. A bench trial is the judge hearing the facts of the case and deciding the same question. Each has their advantages and disadvantages depending upon why we're setting it for trial.
If the goal is to set the case for trial because we believe the alleged victim will not show up, and the prosecutor will not pursue the material witness warrant, we may opt for a bench trial which is quicker and less strain on the court resources - it will also be cheaper for my client. If we know the alleged victim will show, and not be helpful for the case, and we believe we did nothing wrong, we may want 6 members of the community hearing the facts and finding reasonable doubt.
There's many ways to beat a domestic violence charge at trial in Michigan, but the best way to win at trial is to not go to trial or for a jury or witness to be sworn in. Here's an example of how that would happen.
My client is charged with domestic violence in Michigan, and we're exploring all pretrial options for resolution. Although the 769.4A is on the table, it would mean my client going on probation for 12 to 18 months and being one slip-up away from going to jail. While this avoids the criminal charge, you still need to earn it over those months. The client tells me that his or her spouse does not want to testify and would prefer that the whole case goes away. The prosecutor will not just dismiss charges because that is not the public position they want to take on domestic violence, but there is an avenue to getting that same result.
In certain courts with certain prosecutors, I would talk to my client about setting their case for a bench trial vs a jury trial. The idea is that we don't pick a jury, drain court resources when we know that the victim/witness will not show. We set it for a bench trial and skip the time consuming process of a jury with the idea that the prosecutor will not pursue a material witness warrant and have the victim/witness arrested and forced onto the witness stand.
I have a pretty good idea of what courts this would work and with what prosecutors and judges. The key here, my client, his/her family/friends or anyone associated with them cannot tell the victim/witness to not comply with a subpoena - this is witness tampering and a felony. I tell all of my clients that the other party can pursue whatever means they want in terms of the case and they are free to appear or not appear. They can hire a lawyer of their own or not hire a lawyer; they can face contempt of court for not complying or not face any contempt, it's their thing, my only interest is in my client, not the other person.
In Michigan, most DV cases do not go to trial, so there is a way to avoid anyone testifying against you. This would require a resolution of the case with a dismissal deal, a reduction in charges or a plea straight up to the charge without a dismissal deal.
If a DV case in Michigan involves children as a witness to the incident, the prosecutor may subpoena your child to come to court and testify. They would be subject to both direct and cross-examination just like any other witness. Avoiding having a child testify is certainly a goal if they are a witness to an alleged crime, but it may not always be 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.