Last updated on January 13, 2022

Do I Need a Lawyer for Expungement?

Criminal convictions often linger on your record for the rest of your life, leaving you stuck with the consequences. Any time an employer performs a background check, your conviction shows up. The conviction can then move you further down on a future employer’s list or even prevent you from getting a job at all. Not only that, some jobs will not hire you with criminal convictions of any type on your record. Luckily, a good expungement attorney can give you options for removing that record from the public eye, which can make it easier for you to seek employment or engage in

What Is Expungement?

Through expungement, you can seal the records related to your criminal charge so that they no longer turn up during a background check. Most commonly, the courts seal juvenile records once the offender turns eighteen. In other cases, however, you can petition the court to expunge your record even if you committed a crime after you turned eighteen. Essentially, an expungement means that the court erases the conviction from your record, freeing you from many of the ongoing consequences associated with that conviction. The conviction will no longer turn up on background checks.

While the records may appear in some public records searches, a standard background check or criminal record check will not uncover your criminal past. Your records will remain visible to the court so, if you are convicted of future crimes, those crimes expunged from your record may still factor into the penalty for your crimes. Government officials and criminal investigators can also access those records as needed.

Many people treat expungement as sealing records, which means that only a select group of people can access them, rather than erasing them completely. In many cases, however, expungement can make it possible for people to achieve a fresh start after a criminal conviction, including restoring many of their rights.

Who Is Eligible for Expungement?

Eligibility for expungement depends on several factors: the type of crime committed, the length of time since the crime, and your jurisdiction. In Michigan, you may apply for expungement if:

You have only one felony crime on your record, or two or fewer misdemeanor offenses. Expungement for these crimes will wipe your record clean and give you a fresh start. In the case of multiple convictions, however, you cannot use expungement to remove those records.

You did not commit a felony with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. You cannot expunge felonies with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment from your record, even if you did not face the maximum penalty.

You did not commit a felony for which you cannot receive an expungement. Some crimes are not eligible for expungement, including:

  • Domestic violence cases, especially with other domestic violence records
  • Traffic crimes, including driving while intoxicated
  • Violations of a wide range of penal codes
  • Sex crimes

You committed a crime as a direct result of your involvement, as a victim, in sex trafficking. If your crime came about as a result of your victimization, you may receive expungement of those crimes.

It has been at least five years since you served the term for your crime. You may file for expungement, under Michigan law, five years after you have completed the sentence served for most eligible crimes. The sentence includes imprisonment as well as any time spent on probation.

You have not filed for expungement of a particular crime in the past. If the court denies the expungement once, the court will not grant that expungement at a future time.

You do not have criminal action pending against you anywhere in the United States. During criminal investigations or court cases in other states, you cannot file to have your record expunged in Michigan, even if your current criminal case takes place in another state.

Do You Need a Lawyer for Expungement?

Michigan offers a do it yourself process that will allow you to petition the court for expungement of your crime on your own. Going the DIY route, however, risks consequences. Consider the benefits of working with a lawyer for your criminal expungement.

  • A lawyer can help determine your eligibility before you go before the court. When you consult with a lawyer, the attorney will offer a solid understanding of the law and how it impacts your ability to seek expungement of your criminal record. If your crime does not make you eligible for expungement, a lawyer can save you time and expense by letting you know ahead of time that the court will not grant your petition.
  • A lawyer can help present your case. Often, an attorney can provide valuable insight into your life since your case and help gather evidence that will help move the judge to grant an expungement. Since you cannot apply for expungement of the same crime a second time, having an attorney on your side can help increase your odds of receiving the verdict you want in this case.
  • A lawyer can help ensure that you complete all the necessary paperwork and miss none of the details. By working with a lawyer, you can ensure that all the paperwork gets completed correctly the first time, with no errors that could delay the process of expungement. In many cases, this can help move you through the court system faster, which will allow you to move on with your life sooner.
  • A lawyer can provide valuable legal advice throughout the expungement process. Is there certain evidence that you need to provide to the court? Do you need to take specific steps or wait a little longer before filing for expungement? By working with a lawyer, you can receive answers to any questions you have about the expungement process.

When you have criminal charges on your record, it can be difficult to live the life you prefer to lead, including seeking employment in many sectors. Fortunately, by working with a trusted attorney, you can increase your odds of successfully expunging your criminal record, allowing you to move on with your life without your past criminal convictions hanging over your head.

Posted in: Criminal Defense
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