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Your Criminal Record and How We Can Help You

It won’t help you in life to have a criminal record, but having one doesn’t mean your life is over. If you have been charged with a crime, we will work hard to get the charges dropped. If we can’t, we may try to negotiate a plea to lesser charges. If you are innocent, we will fight aggressively to obtain a "not guilty" verdict at trial. Although a conviction will result in a criminal record, some adult convictions can be set aside so the records are not accessible by the public.

Is record expungement the same thing as setting aside a conviction?

Yes. Different states use different terms to describe the sealing or concealment of a criminal record. The acts of record sealing, record expungement, and "setting aside a conviction" all amount to the same thing. In Michigan, the courts use the term to "set aside a conviction". To learn if your record may be eligible for expungement, contact our law firm today we may be able to have your adult conviction set aside to help you put your past behind you.

Does setting aside a conviction mean I no longer have a criminal record?

No. You still have a record that can be accessed by certain agencies, law enforcement, and the courts. Information about a prior history is still in the database and may be used in decisions made by a parole board, or for sentencing if there are any additional convictions in the future. However, the general public, and in some cases, certain agencies, will be unable to access or see your criminal record.

What do I answer on job applications when I am asked if I have a criminal record?

The law allows certain institutions, including schools, businesses, lenders and grant makers (i.e., banks, scholarship programs) and property owners to ask someone if they have a criminal record. If you have a public criminal record you must answer truthfully on any application that asks about your past, but you only have to answer the questions you are specifically asked. For example, if you were convicted for a misdemeanor and the application asks if you were ever convicted for a felony, you can legally answer "no."

Will having a criminal record ruin my life?

If a conviction has been set aside, your record has been sealed from public viewing, and you do not have to provide information about your past on most applications. If your conviction was set aside and you are asked if you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime for which your record was expunged, you are legally allowed to simply answer, "no."

How are criminal records created?

Criminal records are compiled and stored by the Criminal Justice Information Center (CJIC), an agency that serves as a state repository for all arrests, charges, and convictions of serious crimes committed in Michigan. A record is created when a law enforcement agency, prosecutors, courts, jails or prisons send information to the CJIC where all information about a person is compiled into a database.

All law enforcement agencies in Michigan are required to provide fingerprints and arrest information:

  • when a person is charged with an offense punishable by over 92 days in jail or prison, which includes all felony and the serious misdemeanor offenses.

  • for other misdemeanor offenses that are reported with fingerprints after the person is convicted of the charge and if the sentence includes imprisonment with fines and costs totaling more than $100.

What information is in my criminal record?

A criminal history record includes identifying and personal information about the person such as physical description, name, aliases, age, residence, etc., as well as information about misdemeanor convictions and felony arrests and convictions. Fingerprint records and photographs ("mug shots") are also associated with the record. However, searching for criminal records by fingerprints requires an executive order and cannot be requested by the general public. You can learn more about who, how and what is reported in the Michigan Criminal Records Reporting Manual.

Who can search for and see a criminal record?

Unless a conviction has been set aside (record expunged or sealed), your criminal record is considered public information and can be accessed by anyone including employers, schools, a landlord, or even your neighbor. However, anyone searching the Michigan database will not see or be given any criminal record information from another state.

Where can I find help getting a job, housing, and other rehabilitation support after serving time?

The good news is that Michigan ranks 4th in the nation for prison inmate rehabilitation programs. According to a study published by the Pew Research Center, Michigan is one of the nation’s leaders in prisoner rehabilitation. The number of Michigan parolees who returned to prison declined 18% between 2000 and 2010. For more information about programs, visit the Michigan’s Prisoner Re-Entry Program website.

How Our Attorneys Can Help You

You may think that after a conviction there is nothing more you can do except take your punishment and live with a criminal record, but that is often not the case. We offer a variety of post-conviction services including appeals, challenging harsh sentences, and setting aside convictions (record expungement.) To find out more about our post-conviction services, or to see if your conviction is eligible to be set aside, contact our law offices today and start putting your past where it belongs behind you.


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