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Criminal Record Expungement

fingerprint card-whitebgThere’s nothing scarier than A criminal conviction—even for a minor offense—can be a heavy burden to carry through life. It can affect your ability to find a place to live, the kind of employment you can obtain, and sometimes your eligibility for government programs. Fortunately, there are limited ways in which you can have a criminal conviction removed from your record.


The first is the most difficult: a pardon. A pardon is, in essence, “forgiveness” for a crime and it removes the conviction from your record. A pardon may only be granted by the chief executive: the governor (for state crimes) or the President of the United States (for federal crimes). Pardons are exceedingly rare; in fact, there have been some chief executives who have never issued a single pardon. For these reasons, the process for requesting a pardon is time-consuming and somewhat obscure.

The second means of removing a criminal conviction is through expungement, a far more common and effective method. An expungement is a “cleansing” of your criminal record by the court, and is only available for state convictions. (The only way to remove a federal criminal conviction is through a pardon.) In Michigan, you may only expunge one offense in your lifetime, and while most offenses can be expunged, there are some that can not: traffic offenses, crimes with a potential sentence of life in prison, and most forms of criminal sexual conduct. There are some other limitations, as well. As a general rule, you can not have a conviction expunged if you have any other conviction on your record (even a low-level misdemeanor). The statute was amended in July, 2011 to create a limited exception: in addition to the conviction being expunged, you may also have two prior convictions for misdemeanors with a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail or less, and both of those convictions must be for crimes committed before you turned 21 years old. Although this amendment created a great deal of excitement, it has a very limited impact when you consider that almost all misdemeanors in Michigan carry a maximum sentence of at least 93 days in jail. (For instance, even a conviction for driving with your license suspended has a maximum sentence of 93 days in jail for a first offense.) Timing is also important: a conviction can not be expunged until at least five years after the completion of your sentence.

The bottom line is this: if you’ve been convicted of a crime—especially a felony—you should get it removed from your criminal record if you can. We can help. Contact us. We’ll be glad to go over your record, find out if you’re eligible, and help you through the process. If you’ve made a mistake in the past, we can help you keep it there.



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