This morning I received a voice message from an old client thanking me for the work I did for him. 18 months ago I talked a judge into giving him the opportunity to keep a drug conviction off his record. I recall it was not easy but the judge reluctantly agreed. If he was able to satisfactorily complete his 18-month probation term satisfying all of the conditions set by the court his felony drug crime would be dismissed. Not only did he complete his probation but he also finished college, obtained a degree and obtained a job in his chosen field. It made me really happy that he thought of me and expressed his appreciation. It also reminded me about the difficulties that a criminal record could create finding employment.
The New York Times recently reported about a study that revealed that people who reported a criminal conviction on a job application were about 50% less likely to receive a job. Prior criminal felony convictions are keeping good people who have been punished and reformed from their crimes from being productive members of society and able to care for their families.
Employment Application Legislation
Last year California passed a law called “ban the box” which precluded employers from asking about criminal convictions on the first application for employment. This would allow employment candidates with criminal convictions to be considered for a job without the discriminatory effect of disclosing a conviction.
The first “ban the box” or “fair chance” law was passed by Hawaii in 1998. The law prohibits most private employers from inquiring about criminal history until after making a conditional job offer. Then the offer can be revoked only if the offense is relevant. Georgia and other states are considering similar legislation because they know how important it is to people and to a working economy.
Holmes Youthful Trainee Act – Keeping Youthful Offenders Conviction Free
Then there are ways of keeping a felony conviction from happening altogether. The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA or simply YTA) is a Michigan statute with the purpose of keeping those between the ages of 17-21 – the late high school / early college age group from having a criminal conviction(s) on their PUBLIC record. The state legislature has seen fit to give such young men and women an opportunity to prove themselves as being good, decent and productive members of society without the ugly taint of a judgment of conviction on their public records at such a young age. After all, publicly accessible criminal records are most often stigmatized and frowned-upon and they can create what can be numerous hassles for people regardless of age. Schooling, housing, employment and finances are just some of the life areas that can be affected by criminal convictions, be it misdemeanors or felonies on someone’s record.
Because of the severity of these potential consequences from a conviction, HYTA is a way that youth – (older than juveniles but younger than adults of legal age) can avoid having convictions on their public record so that they can move forward with their lives in these formative years. Without a judgment of conviction on your record any court proceedings will be sealed from public view and you will not have to deal with the very real hardship of answering embarrassing questions about your past mistakes as well as being denied future privileges because you are deemed to be unsafe and a higher-risk individual.
First Offense Drug Offenses Conviction Free Under Michigan Law 7411
Many first offense drug related convictions could be kept from being reported to a person’s criminal record. Section 7411 of the Michigan Public Health Code allows a conviction to be held until the person is able to show that they deserve to have it dismissed by completing a supervisory probation. My former client who left me the message was able to get a 7411 dismissal.
New Michigan Expungment Law
The Michigan Legislature recently relaxed expungment laws that allow a person to remove a felony conviction from their record. If that person has only one felony conviction and no more than two misdemeanor convictions they may be eligible to have the felony conviction removed. This law has helped thousands of otherwise law-abiding people from letting a one time misstate ruin the rest of their lives. This law is important to know when plea-bargaining a case to ensure that a defendant is eligible for an expungment when it comes time. Multiple count felony convictions are not eligible to be set-aside under the expungment law.
When facing a criminal charge, make sure your lawyer knows all of the options to keep a conviction off your record. It could mean saving your job, keeping the ability of maintaining employment in the future and taking care of yourself and your family.