Senate Vote on Expungement Rules Inches Closer

What is Expungement?

An Expungement is a legal process where you are able to remove one or more criminal convictions from your record. Not all convictions are eligible for expungement, and surprisingly, most people never seek an expungement when they are eligible. A 2019 University of Michigan study found than less than 10% of those eligible for expungements even apply for one in the first place. If you are eligible for an expungement, you have to file a motion and request that a Circuit Judge remove your conviction from your record. The prosecutor has a right to be present and be heard at an expungement hearing, as do any victims related to the original conviction. If the judge agrees to expunge your conviction, then your fingerprint card is destroyed, and the conviction is removed from your permanent criminal record. Once that happens, you will never have to check the box on a job application ever again stating that you have a criminal conviction. This process may seem daunting, but an experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to help guide you without too much of an issue.

Current Rules

The general rule for an expungement is that you are able to file a motion to get a conviction removed from your criminal record once five years has passed since the end of your sentence. More technically, the current law states that you can have up to three criminal convictions if two of them are considered minor. A minor offense in this case is a misdemeanor conviction that has a maximum of no more than 90 days in jail, no more than a $1,000 fine and occurred before the age of 21. Not all convictions can be expunged. Capital cases (life offenses), criminal sexual conduct cases, and traffic cases cannot be expunged from your record. So, things such as murder, criminal sexual conduct, attempted murder, and OWI cannot be expunged from your record. It has always been perplexing why an OWI cannot be expunged as opposed to a violent crime that doesn’t have a life maximum can be expunged.

Proposed Changes

A massive overhaul to the rules and process surrounding expungement might be just around the corner. A group of bills have made their way to the Michigan Senate for vote to not only expand on the expungement rules, but also to automate non-assaultive expungements for things like marijuana possession and some lower level felonies. If passed, Michigan would be the first state in the country to automatically expunge certain lower-level felony convictions. Currently there are 152,000 people in Wayne County who are eligible for expungement for a criminal conviction on their records. This number would grow to nearly 360,000 people if these bills are passed and signed into law. There is wide bipartisan support for these bills to pass and become law. The reason for everyone wanting to work together on this is that they realize the consequences of convictions. Criminal convictions often serve as barriers to employment, housing, and other issues to people who have them. Unfortunately, there has been no change in dealing with the expungement of OWIs. The new bills specifically mention OWI cases as ones that will continue to not be eligible for expungement in the state of Michigan. Other changes include shortening the five-year waiting period for some misdemeanor convictions.

Any Further Questions?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.

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