Articles Posted in Expungement

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Matthew S. Abdo & Cy M. Abdo

The Difference Between Civil Infractions and Criminal Traffic Violations

Traffic offenses are classified as non-criminal or criminal. A non-criminal traffic violation is called a “civil infraction”.  In this article, ABDO LAW will explain the differences between various traffic offenses and why you should fight every traffic ticket to avoid points and higher insurance premiums. Avoiding a criminal record may be an additional goal if you are charged with a criminal traffic offense such as leaving the scene of an accident, driving while license suspended or reckless driving. The Michigan Traffic Offense Code contains a complete list of all Michigan traffic offenses along with penalties, points and license sanctions. Here are the goals that we have when we fight a traffic ticket:

  • Avoid points
  • Avoid any offense on driving record
  • Avoid higher insurance premiums
  • Avoid a criminal traffic conviction

Civil Infractions: A civil infraction can result in the following sanctions: points on your driving record with secretary of state and monetary sanction (fine) to the court system. Not all civil infractions result in points or go on your driving record. If you are wondering, there are a few civil infractions which we can get in a plea deal to resolve a traffic ticket and keep a client’s record clean. The following offenses do not appear on your record and do not carry any points: double parking, impeding traffic and sudden acceleration. Yes, the court remains able to assess a fine for these matters. However, insurance rates will not be impacted since these offenses do not show up on your record. That makes it a huge deal to get a traffic offense reduced to a civil infraction which DOES NOT appear on your driving record. Here are a few examples of common civil infractions that can hurt you because they carry points and appear on your driving:

       Civil Infractions                           

  • Speed 1 to 10 mph over limit, 2 points
  • Speed 11 to 15 mph over limit, 3 points
  • Speed Over 15 mph over limit, 4 points
  • FTSACD (rear end accident), 2 points
  • Disobey stop sign, 3 points
  • Disobey traffic signal, 3 points
  • Careless driving, 3 points

Criminal Traffic Violations: When an offense is labeled a crime or criminal traffic violation, it can carry the following sanctions: points, fine, court costs, possible jail and probation. If the matter is a misdemeanor traffic violation, it can carry up to 2 years probation. A felony involving a motor vehicle (such as fleeing or OWI 3rd), can carry up to 5 years probation. Here is a list of the most common criminal traffic offenses that carry 6 points, possible jail and probation:

       Criminal Traffic Offenses      

Insurance companies get rich when you just pay a traffic ticket!

Don’t surrender to the police, courts and insurance companies when you get a traffic ticket! There is never any benefit to just paying a ticket without trying to fight it. Absolutely Never! Based upon our experience, all traffic tickets in every district court in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties can be fought, won and save you from getting jammed up with higher insurance premiums. When we refer to these counties, we are referring to the district courts located in these counties such as the 37th District Court (Warren, Centerling), 38th District Court (Eastpointe), 39th District  Court Roseville, Fraser), 40th District Court (St. Clair Shores), 41A District Court (Sterling Heights), 41A District Court (Shelby Township, Macomb Township, Utica), 41B District Court (Clinton Township, Harrison Township, Mt. Clemens), 42-1 District Court (Romeo, Washington Township), 42-2 District Court (New Baltimore, Chesterfield Township), 43rd District Court (Ferndale, Madison Heights, Hazel Park), 44th District Court (Royal Oak) and the 53rd District Courts (locations in Troy, Rochester).

When you get a ticket, points are added to your Michigan Driving Record which will result in higher insurance premiums. In addition, if you accumulate 12 or more points, your license will be suspended. Anyone getting a ticket should get a traffic defense lawyer to review all possible options. The avoidance of points has a huge economic benefit as far as motor vehicle insurance costs are concerned.

Clean Slate Law Allows for Expungement of Certain Criminal Traffic Violations

Prior to 2021, a criminal traffic violation was could NOT be expunged in Michigan. Now, under Michigan’s new  expungement rules, traffic misdemeanors may be expunged. There are exceptions to this rule and the following offenses involving a motor vehicle may not be expunged:

  • Any traffic violation involving an injury or death.

Effective on February 19, 2022, a first and only driving under the influence can be expunged.  Whenever in doubt, contact an expungement lawyer  to find out if your case is eligible for expungement.

Impeding traffic, double parking?? What do they mean?

Most of the time, an attorney can negotiate for reduction of the ticket which usually means less points. When this occurs, the ticket is amended to an offense such as “impeding traffic” or “double parking” which is a zero point violation and does not appear on the driving record. We understand that “impeding traffic” or “double parking” may not have anything to do with the original ticket, but who cares! The key is that it does not carry any points and does not go on the driving record of the offender.

Links to Macomb and Surrounding Area Courts

Here is a sample of courts that surround our office where we frequently practice and have had success in getting thousands of tickets dismissed!

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Michigan’s clean slate law makes it possible to get a fresh start and wipe out several prior convictions including one offense for driving under the influence or impaired.

Summary of Michigan’s Clean Slate Law

Michigan’s expungement law has been broadened to allow for more offenses to be expunged on an individual’s criminal record than at any other time in history. MCL 780.621 contains the provisions of Michigan’s expungement law. The following is a summary of this law:

  • Individuals will be able to get up to 2 felonies and 4 misdemeanors automatically cleared. Crimes punishable by more than 10 years in prison, violent crimes, “crimes of dishonesty” such as forgery, human trafficking and other serious crimes that carry a sentence of life in prison, domestic violence, traffic offenses where someone was seriously injured or died, child abuse, sexual assault, and operating while intoxicated aren’t eligible.
  • Allows misdemeanors to be automatically expunged after 3 years, felonies after 7 years, and serious misdemeanors or a single felony to 5 years, shortening the waiting time to apply for expungement.
  • Up to 3 felonies and an unlimited number of misdemeanors may be expunged, but no more than 2 assaultive crimes and no more than 1 felony if it’s punishable by more than 10 years in prison.
  • Allows felonies or misdemeanors from the same 24-hour period — to be treated as one conviction for expungement. Assaultive crimes, crimes involving a dangerous weapon and crimes punishable by 10 or more years in person can’t be included.
  • Effective February 19, 2022, a first and only offense for driving under the influence, impaired or with a High BAC (.17 or more) may be expunged!
  • Allows those with marijuana misdemeanor convictions to apply for expungement if their offenses would have been legal for recreational use if the crime occurred after cannabis was legalized in 2018.
  • Allows a conviction for 4th Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct that occurred before January 12, 2015 to be expunged if the individual has not been convicted of another offense other than 2 minor offenses.
  • Minor offenses are a misdemeanor or ordinance violation with a maximum term of imprisonment of 90 days or less.

The Clean Slate Law makes Michigan a nationwide leader in expungement reform. To date, only Utah, California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey allow low-level offenses to be automatically cleared from records, and Michigan will now be the first to include low-level felonies in the automatic process. For thousands of Michiganders, this is an opportunity for a better life. Michigan’s Clean Slate Law creates a more just, equitable, and inclusive expungement process.

Expungement of Drunk and Impaired Driving

Effective in February 2022, an individual will be able to get 1 lifetime offense for driving under the influence expunged. Eligibility to expunge an OWI won’t come easy. First of all, the individual can have one offense expunged if that individual has only one DUI offense on his or her record. The DUI expungement law will allow for expungement of any 1 of the following offenses:

  • Operating While Intoxicated
  • Operating Under the Influence of Drugs
  • Operating While Impaired
  • Operating with a High BAC .17 or greater
  • Zero tolerance/minor with any BAC

Operating under the influence causing an injury or death are not eligible for expungement. One of the rules for anyone seeking to expunge an DUI will require the applicant to prove that he or she has resolved any underlying alcohol or substance abuse problem. This may require getting a current substance abuse evaluation and other documentation of sobriety.

The Expungement Process in Michigan

Expungement proceedings are complex and doing it yourself can be a daunting undertaking. If you fail to notify required parties (Attorney General, prosecutor, Michigan State Police) or fail to obtain a record clearance , the case will be dismissed. There are several required involved when it comes to getting an expungement. The proceeding for expungement has The DUI expungement Michigan process is very rigorous and time-consuming.

While every case varies, our format for successfully setting aside and expunging convictions typically involves the following steps:

  • Preparation of all documents.
  • Obtaining a certified copy of your conviction.
  • Correctly filing documents with the court.
  • Obtaining supporting documentation and character letters when necessary/
  • Notifying all parties including the prosecutor and Michigan Attorney General.
  • Submission of fingerprints to the Michigan State Police for a record clearance.
  • Scheduling the required court hearing.
  • Preparing our client for the hearing.
  • Appearing at the hearing.
  • Providing an Order to Set Aside Conviction.

Do I have to say I was convicted of a crime after it is expunged?

Once you are granted an expungement of a crime, you are not required to ever list it on a job application or mention it in an interview. In fact, if you are asked, you can say:

I DO NOT HAVE ANY CRIMINAL RECORD. 

How to Obtain a Copy of Your Record

The Michigan State Police maintains a central registry of criminal records in a system known as the Law Enforcement Information Network. Access to LEIN is restricted to criminal justice agencies or those agencies statutorily granted authorization. However, an individual can obtain of his or her own criminal record by following the instructions on the Michigan State Police ICHAT link: http://apps.michigan.gov.

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What does it mean to provide cooperation, snitch or be an informant for the police?

Cooperation, using the little fish to get the big fish, is a major law enforcement tactic utilized everywhere and every day in the United States to gain information that would otherwise be next to impossible to obtain. This practice is also used extensively in the County of Macomb as a means to frustrate illegal drug activity.

The concept of “cooperation” with the police (also called “snitching” or “acting as an informant”) occurs when the police utilize an informant to obtain the information that would otherwise be difficult to discover.  Those asked to provide cooperation are usually in trouble with the law (busted for a drug crime) and are promised consideration in the legal system in return for providing assistance. Assistance is expected to be substantial and typically involves undercover work with narcotics agents or special units.  The informant may later be required to testify as a witness in subsequent court proceedings unless given protection as a confidential informant (CI).

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As an active criminal defense attorney in Macomb County, our firm is frequently asked whether a criminal record can be totally erased, disappear or vanish. Unfortunately, the answer is no.


The Michigan Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN)

The moment an arrest occurs, or a warrant is issued by a court, a record is generated on the Michigan Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN). Only criminal justice agencies or other authorized agencies (courts) are granted access to the LEIN. A law enforcement officer or court employee who abuses the system faces discipline. This link provides a list of entities who are authorized to utilize the LEIN system.

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In the past, a person could seek an expungement in Michigan provided there was only a single criminal conviction on the person’s criminal record.

Under the new law, a person may file for an expungement, of a criminal conviction even though the person has a prior criminal record consisting of not more than two (2) other convictions for “minor offenses”. A minor offense is classified as an offense which occurs before a person’s 22nd birthday with a maximum penalty of not more than 90 days in jail and a fine that does not exceed $1,000.00. This means that prior offenses such as assault and battery, simple larceny, driving while suspended, leaving the scene of an accident, disorderly conduct and other minor offenses will not preclude an expungement of an eligible conviction.

Our firm believes that this new law will open up the floodgates and make expungements possible for housands of persons who were not otherwise eligible under Michigan’s prior expungement law. An attorney will need to review the criminal history of the person seeking expungement to verify that any prior offenses qualify as “minor offenses” within the meaning of Michigan’s expungement statute or risk denial of the expungement.

Michigan has rigid requirements for person’s seeking expungements which include preparation of formal legal documents, criminal history search, a time-table for filing documents, legal notices to proper parties and a court hearing. The notice requirements for expungements necessitate service of documents upon the Michigan Attorney General, Michigan State Police, prosecuting attorney and the victim of the underlying criminal offense. Venue for expungements in Michigan is in the district or circuit court where the offense occurred.

Other important aspects of Michigan Expungements:

-The following offenses cannot be expunged: felony punishable by life in prison, traffic offenses and criminal sexual conduct convictions
-5 years must have elapsed since the date of sentence or release from prison for the offense which is being expunged.

As Macomb County criminal defense lawyers, we have provided legal representation for eligible clients seeking expungement in many Michigan district and circuit courts. Pursuant to Michigan’s new expungement law, prior minor offenses (before age 22) will no longer preclude a person from filing an application for an expungement. We believe this to be a step in the right direction for persons who have been burdened by an old criminal record but have made positive changes and deserve a fresh start in life.
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