Family Man, Attorney & Author
As a former county prosecutor in Michigan, I would typically adopt the position of the Michigan Attorney General who reviews the expungement application and either takes no position or opposes the expungement. For most misdemeanors, it was quite rare that the Attorney General would oppose the motion for expungement, but it did happen on some occasions. If someone is eligible and has not re-offended, the State is pretty good about being on board with a fresh start, but it's by no means a lock.
If a victim was involved it wasn't as clear cut, especially if that victim is still motivated to punish the person with the conviction. If the application for expungement was for a felony, it was a closer call, but if the person successfully completed probation, has not re-offended since the offense, the Michigan Attorney General would usually leave it up to the judge to decide. Most judges as long as nobody is opposing it will typically grant the expungement, but it must be done right from step one. That means preparing for everything.
In the expungement process, the Michigan State Police will produce a review of the applicant's record for eligibility; the Michigan Attorney General receives this information and decides their position then the county/city/township prosecutor will review the Attorney General's position.
Based on my experience as a prosecutor, I have adopted a different, more advanced approach for clients who want to apply for expungement. We follow the same necessary procedure, but we go above and beyond what is necessary; we do more than what was is expected, because we understand that a judge granting expungement is a privilege rather than a right. The judge must decide "is this expungement in the best interest of the community?"
Other than showing the client has not re-offended, I may have my client get re-evaluated by a counselor to provide a real-time update for the prosecutor and judge. I may have the client jump into some additional community service as we highlight all the positive strides the client has made since the incident. I want records of achievements in school, work and life; if the client has been married or had children since the incident, these are key points to bring to the court's attention.
It's my goal to show how the client has grown, learned and improved themselves since the incident; we need to do more than just show they are eligible and haven't been in trouble since the incident. This is your shot at a clean slate and to forego living life as a criminal. I make it clear upfront to a potential client that I am going to make them hustle and work harder than other attorneys.
Some potential clients don't like this process, because they believe the passing of time is enough to justify the result. I know as a prosecutor that it's not as straight forward as some clients believe, and we work to earn the result, and don't assume a single thing. I will only take on a new expungement case if the client understands we will be doing extra work, which is not required, but it is required with me.
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