Imagine being punished today for a mistake you made as a child. For many people, that’s what the system does—forcing them to carry a criminal record from childhood long after they have paid their dues and lived a law-abiding life. Now, for people who have a juvenile record in Michigan, it will be much easier to move on.
Lawmakers recently voted to change the rules on record expungement for juvenile records. People used to have to wait 5 years before even applying for expungement, and even then they could only hope to get a clean record if their past reflected one single misdemeanor. Now, however, things will be easier.
Juvenile offenders can now request expungement if they have three or fewer misdemeanors or one felony, and they can do so only one year after their sentence has been satisfied. This marks a dramatic change and a step in the right direction.
Many people who made mistakes when they were young go on to pay the price decades after, finding it difficult to get a job with a criminal record. The Free Press points out one man who committed an offense at the age of 12. Seventeen years later he was denied admission to college because of the crime, despite not having so much as a traffic ticket in the meantime.
“Everyone is so gun-shy on this because they think we need to be tough on crime, and it’s politically correct to be tough on crime,” said Joe Haveman, R-Holland, who sponsored the bill. “But we can certainly look at alternatives if people are behaving themselves. And then they can be paying taxes instead of draining taxes.”
There is a big difference between paying your debt to society and being continually asked to pay on it long after you’ve satisfied court requirements. This new law is a step in the right direction, at least for juvenile offenders.
A conviction can follow you forever, particularly if you are an adult at the time of the offense. While you may get your record expunged under certain circumstances, generally you are forced to carry a criminal record forever.
The key to avoiding all of the headaches associated with a record is to avoid a conviction altogether. Whether you are charged with a drug offense or a serious assault, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your case.