“How do I find the best expungement attorney near me?”
A difficult or troublesome period in a person’s life should not define their character or brand them as a criminal. Expanded expungement laws in Michigan provide several options to clear a person’s record and give them a second chance.
Expungement of Multiple Felonies and Misdemeanors
You can file motions to set aside up to three (3) felony convictions and unlimited misdemeanors. You can clear your criminal history even with multiple offenses on your record. Michigan law also provides automatic expungement of up to two (2) qualifying felony convictions and four (4) qualifying misdemeanors. The law excludes many felony and misdemeanor convictions from automatic expungement. Your lawyer can file a motion to set aside a conviction years earlier than when a qualifying conviction is subject to automatic expungement. The best expungement attorney will be able to review your record with you and determine what options are available.
Depending on the seriousness of the offense, multiple offenses committed as part of a single event might only count as one conviction. This provision in the expungement law is called the “one bad night” rule.
Expedited Motion to Set Aside Conviction(s)
You can file a motion to expunge a criminal conviction years before automatic expungement is triggered. Automatic expungement of up to 2 qualifying felonies does not occur until after 10 years following the last contact with the criminal justice system. Qualifying misdemeanors are not automatically expunged until at least seven years, without contact with the criminal justice system, following the imposition of sentence on the last misdemeanor conviction.
You can file a Motion to Set Aside Conviction by expungement much earlier than when you become eligible for automatic expungement. For multiple felony convictions, you can apply for expungement as soon as seven (7) years following release from probation or incarceration on the last felony conviction or contact with the criminal justice system. You can seek expungement of one felony and one or more serious misdemeanor convictions by an application after five (5) years. Judges can expunge one or more common misdemeanors as soon as three (3) years following sentencing on the last misdemeanor conviction.
Why not wait until automatic expungement is triggered?
Even the best expungement lawyer cannot expedite automatic expungement. Even the least serious misdemeanor, such as a traffic offense, will reset the clock on when a conviction is eligible for expungement. Suppose an individual waits for automatic expungement and makes a mistake resulting in a new conviction. In that case, any convictions that an application for expungement could have removed will remain on an individual’s record for years longer than were necessary. An important expression to consider when determining if someone should file an application for expungement, or wait for automatic expungement, is “strike while the iron is hot.”
No one knows what might happen next. If you fail to obtain an expungement when you are eligible, the slightest mistake that results in police contact can prevent your future eligibility for setting aside a conviction.
According to an April 26, 2023, article in the Detroit News by Beth LeBlanc, automatic expungement does not result in federal firearms rights restoration.
“What convictions are not eligible?”
No more than two (2) felony convictions and four (4) misdemeanor convictions may be set aside automatically during an individual’s lifetime. Convictions for the following offenses can only be set aside by application:
- An assaultive crime.
- A serious misdemeanor (click this link for more information).
- A crime of dishonesty (click this link for more information).
- An offense that is punishable by 10 or more years of imprisonment.
- An offense against a minor or vulnerable adult.
- An offense resulting in an injury, serious impairment, or death.
- Any violation related to human trafficking.
Convictions for some offenses cannot be set aside automatically or by application, such as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), life offenses, most criminal sexual conduct convictions, traffic offenses resulting in injury or death, felony domestic violence convictions (if there is a prior domestic violence conviction), and some convictions for crimes involving the use of a commercial vehicle.
“How much does it cost to hire a lawyer for expungement?”
The cost of hiring a Michigan expungement law specialist will vary greatly depending on the number of convictions you seek to expunge. Some lawyers charge fees that will fit into most budgets; however, all lawyers are not the same. Discount or multi-practice lawyers typically have less experience or are less effective in court. Remember, “you get what you pay for.” If your application to set aside an expungement is denied, you have to wait years before you can seek expungement again, and there is no guarantee the judge will ever change their mind. Ask yourself, “what will it cost me if the judge denies my application and the conviction stays on my record?” Generally speaking, the cost of hiring the best expungement attorney is far less than the cost of failure.
“Should I get a lawyer to help me clear my record?”
If you are asking yourself, “Do I need a lawyer to get my record expunged?” the answer is probably “yes.” You should hire a lawyer to assist you with an application for expungement. If you try seeking an expungement on your own and fail, you will have to wait at least three (3) years before you can try again. Following a denial, even the best expungement attorney will find it challenging to convince the judge to change their mind.
“What do you say to the judge for expungement?”
Lawyers with extensive experience know how to craft a unique and persuasive argument based on their client’s individual circumstances. Most self-represented defendants, and even most lawyers, do not know the most compelling arguments to make in court. The best expungement lawyer will take the time to speak with you, learn your history, and fully explore all the reasons to support an argument to expunge any felony or misdemeanor conviction. To convince a judge to grant expungement, they must (1) believe you have been rehabilitated, (2) your conduct since the conviction has been reputable, and (3) setting aside the conviction is in the community’s best interest.
What lawyer is the best expungement attorney for you?
The Expungement Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has decades of experience winning felony and misdemeanor expungements in courts throughout Michigan. Our track record of success is unparalleled. If you call us for a free consultation, we will take the time to talk with you and help you determine what options are best to clear your record. Even if you do not think you are eligible for expungement or have an unforgiving judge, we can often find creative and innovative ways to persuade judges to remove convictions.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.