Articles Posted in Legal Information

People convicted of crimes often fear that they will be hindered by their convictions for the rest of their lives. While a criminal history may be an obstacle with regards to obtaining housing or employment, many people are able to erase their criminal past through expungement.  Only certain convictions can be expunged, though, and recent changes to the law make the process of purging a criminal past complicated. It is prudent, therefore, for anyone with questions regarding expungement to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Ellen K. Michaels of Ellen K. Michaels and Associates, PLLC, is a trusted Michigan criminal defense lawyer, and she can assess whether you may be able to expunge your criminal record and if so, guide you through the process.

Benefits of Expungement

Essentially, expungement removes evidence of a person’s conviction from the public record. While the State will retain such records following an expungement, they will not be accessible by the general population and will typically only be accessed if the person is charged with a subsequent crime.

Generally, expungement permits people to move forward as if they were never convicted. In other words, they can lawfully and truthfully answer “no” if asked if they have been convicted of a crime in certain instances, like when they are applying for jobs or housing. Typically, convictions that were expunged will not show up on a background check either. Continue reading

People accused of crimes typically know that they are not required to testify at trial. People often do not understand, though, that while defendants cannot be forced to offer defenses against the prosecution’s claims, they do have a statutory right to mount a defense. If that right is violated, it may constitute a basis for granting a new trial. A Michigan court recently explained how an appellate court assesses whether a trial court violated a defendant’s right to offer a defense in an opinion issued in an assault case. If you’ve been charged with assault, you should speak with a Michigan criminal defense lawyer about your options.

Arrest and Trial of the Defendant

It is alleged that following a fight with two women, the defendant was charged with multiple assault offenses. The defendant acknowledged that he had a disagreement with the alleged victims, but claimed that they conspired to make false accusations against him. The first woman, on the other hand, said the defendant tried to stab her, pointed a gun at her, and scratched her face, while the second woman claimed the defendant threw her to the ground and attacked her with a knife. The defendant was found guilty as charged by a jury. He filed an appeal, claiming, among other things, that the trial court infringed on his constitutional right to present a defense by barring evidence about other acts.

Defendant’s Rights in Criminal Matters

The appellate court dismissed the defendant’s appeal after reviewing the facts. The court clarified that a defendant must raise the question of whether a trial court’s evidentiary decision deprived him of the right to present a defense at the trial level, in order to preserve the issue for appeal. In the case at hand, the defendant neglected to argue at trial that the testimony in question was admissible under Michigan Rules of Evidence or that his right to present a defense was violated because it was not admitted. Continue reading

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