Can a Sex Crime Be Expunged?
People make bad choices in life from time to time. Unfortunately, if your choices lead to the commission of a crime, the consequences of criminal convictions can be life-altering. One of the ugliest sides of a conviction is being placed on a public record, where anyone can simply look you up and see everything on your criminal record.
Having a criminal record can be very frustrating when applying for a job, going through the process of renting an apartment, or accessing financing because, in most instances, a background check will be run on you. One blemish in your history should not be the true reflection of who you are for the rest of your life. All it should prove is that you are human and have made mistakes.
Fortunately, Michigan laws have created avenues for a person convicted of a crime to expunge their criminal records.
What Does it Mean to Get an Expungement of Your Criminal Record?
In layman’s terms, expungement is the process of having a person’s criminal record sealed. This means that your criminal record is no longer accessible to the public and does not show up when an employer or a landlord is conducting a background check.
Expungement laws in Michigan have seen dramatic changes in the last decade, with the most recent and most transformational happening in the year 2020, when Governor Gretchen Whitmer appended her signature on seven bills referred to as the Clean Slate Laws. These laws expanded the list of eligible offenses, requirements, and the process of expungement.
Can a Sex Crime Be Expunged?
If you or someone you know has plead guilty to or has been convicted of a sex crime, you may be wondering about the possibility of having the record expunged. The answer to whether a sex crime can be expunged is dependent on the nature and severity of the sexual offense in question.
Understanding Michigan Sex Crimes Classification
In Michigan, sex offenses are classified into four different criminal sexual conduct degrees (CSC degrees):
- Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree
- Criminal Sexual Conduct 2nd Degree
- Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree
- Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree
First and third degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) involves unlawful sexual intercourse, with the main difference being the victim’s age at the time of the crime.
First degree criminal sexual conduct involves the sexual penetration of a child under the age of 13. On the other hand, third degree criminal sexual conduct involves sexual penetration of a minor aged 13 through 15, or sexual penetration of an older person through force or coercion. Both first and third degree CSC are felony sex crimes and carry very harsh penalties upon conviction, with first degree CSC carrying a maximum of life in prison.
The second and fourth degree CSC charges involve unwanted sexual contact. Under Michigan law, sexual contact refers to touching the other person’s intimate parts, such as their genitalia, buttocks, inner thighs, or the clothing covering those parts. The difference between the two degrees of CSC is the age of the other person.
If the victim is below 12 years of age, the sex offender will be guilty of second degree criminal sexual conduct. However, if the victim is above 12 years of age, but under 16, and the defendant is five years older than the victim, the defendant will be guilty of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct. The sex offender can also be convicted of a sex assault in the 4th degree if they are 16 and older and the crime involves force or coercion.
The other difference between the two is that second degree CSC is a felony offense, while a fourth degree CSC is a high misdemeanor/low felony sex crime. Both crimes are handled in Circuit Court.
Sexual Offenses Eligible for Expungement in Michigan
Under the Michigan Clean Slate Laws, a person can have their criminal history expunged for not more than three felonies and an unlimited number of misdemeanors. However, criminal sexual conduct offenses are not eligible for expungement, with the only exemption being fourth degree CSC, but the conviction must have happened before January 12, 2015.
Also, the person petitioning the court to have their sex crimes conviction removed must not have committed an offense from the day of their last conviction. With that said, there is a slight window that allows not more than two minor convictions.
A conviction is considered a “minor” offense if:
- It carries a penalty that does not exceed 90 days
- The possible cash fine limit for the offense is not more than $1,000
- The offender committed the offense before their 21st birthday
Other Sex-Related Offenses
Sex offenses are not only limited to Michigan criminal sexual conduct degrees 1-4, other sex-related offenses include:
- Child pornography
- Solicitation charge of a prostitute
- Internet sex crimes
- Indecent exposure
- Solicitation of a minor for sex
- Gross indecency
- Lewd or lascivious behavior
The eligibility for expungement for these crimes depends on whether the specific sex crime is a misdemeanor sex crime or a felony sex crime.
Almost all of the above sexual misconduct offenses are eligible for expungement if the offender meets the eligibility criteria. However, under the Michigan Clean Slate Laws, sexual crimes committed using the internet, such as child pornography, or persons previously convicted of a federal crime may not have their criminal record expunged.
Some Expungement Nuances You May Need to Know
When a sex crime convictions record is deleted, the person is no longer required to register as a sex crime offender in the Michigan Sex Offender Registry for the sex offense they were convicted of.
Because expunged criminal records are not entirely erased, they can still be accessed in the non-public sex offender registries by governmental agencies, such as the police, prosecutors, judges, and governors. Prosecutors can use the non-public sex offense records to enhance punishment fora previously convicted sex offender, even after an expungement. Also, the non-public record may still affect persons seeking employment with law enforcement agencies and the Michigan Department of Corrections.
You May Need a Lawyer
While the Michigan Clean Slate Laws are designed to help individuals have their criminal records expunged without the need of a lawyer, a mistake can lead to your petition being rejected by the courts. Rejection means you have to wait three more years before filing another application.
Three years can be a long time to have your name on the sex offender registry list. This means three more years with a sex crime offender label coming up every time you seek employment, accommodations, or even travel (see can sex offenders travel here). That’s why you need to hire a skilled criminal sexual condict attorney to help you with your expungement petition.
Many people are convicted for Michigan sex crimes and are designated as sex offenders because they fail to get the right legal representation for their sex offense criminal charges in the first place. The best thing you can do when you know that you are under investigation or being charged with a sexual offense is to hire skilled criminal defense attorneys to avoid a sex crime conviction.
A criminal conviction of a sex crime comes with many consequences, including the requirement to register as a sex offender on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. This designation can last for 15 years, at a minimum, after serving your prison sentence.
Do not make being convicted of a sex crime the end of the road. You should consult an attorney who focuses on sex crimes and discuss the options available for you.
Misconceptions About Getting a Lawyer
Many people assume that engaging a lawyer in their case will imply that they are hiding something. The truth is that hiring criminal defense lawyers ensures that your rights are protected from the beginning of your case to the very end.
Even when you are sure that you are innocent of the alleged wrongdoing, it often ends up being a case of your word versus the complainant’s word in a sex crime case. More often than not, the odds are against the suspected sex offender. The courts depend on facts to decide a case, something an attorney who focuses on sex crimes knows how to approach in order for you to avoid a sex offense conviction.
Let Criminal Defense Attorney Nicole Blank Becker Help You with Your Sex Offender Record Expungement Today!
If you want to have your sex crime conviction expunged, you want to be sure you are working with the best sex offender lawyers for the task. The first thing to look for in a sex crimes lawyer is their area of expertise and their experience level.
If you are a resident of Michigan, attorney Nicole Blank Becker, of Blank Law, PC, is the criminal defense lawyer you need to call. Nicole has over 20 years of experience in practicing Michigan and federal criminal law. Also, Nicole focuses on sex crimes, meaning that is all she does.
Having been a prosecutor and the Cheif of the Sex Unit, Nicole knows all there is to know about sex crimes laws and is best positioned to help you with your case.
You do not have to wait until you join the list of convicted sex offenders; it would be best to involve Nicole early to avoid a sex crimes conviction in the first place. To get Blank Law, PC on your side, Contact attorney Nicole Blank Becker at (248) 515-6583 or reach us online and book your free consultation now.