House Bill 4186 Could Lessen The Effect of the Invisible Sentence in Michigan


In Michigan, former offenders that have served their time, completed their sentence, and paid their debt to society may still be serving what is known as the “invisible sentence,” which has the potential to last a lifetime. New proposed legislature, House Bill 4186, would make more people serving the “invisible sentence” eligible for expungements.

The Michigan Invisible Sentence

The invisible sentence refers to the consequences that are imposed in a former offender’s everyday life long after they have completed their sentence and paid their debt to society.  The invisible sentence can hinder a person’s ability to obtain employment, housing, education, and licensing.  It is the stigma that surrounds a person when they have a criminal conviction on their record.  The invisible sentence does not pay heed to a person’s rehabilitative factors.  The invisible sentence does not account for the person’s need to support themselves or their family.  It increases the chance of recidivism by disallowing a former offender to reintegrate him or herself into society and seek the education, employment, and housing that society deems necessary to be considered a productive citizen.

Expanding Expungement to Overcome The Invisible Sentence With HB 4186

Soon there may be hope for those who have become rehabilitated, but are still laboring under the invisible sentence.   New legislature, Michigan House Bill 4186, introduced by Representative Stacy Erwin Oakes, seeks to expand the eligibility for expungement so that those who have paid their debt to society may move forward with their lives without the shame and stigma of a conviction on their record.  The Bill would allow for up to two convictions (either a felony and a misdemeanor, or two misdemeanors) to be expunged from a former offender’s record after a waiting period of five years starting from the date of completion of sentence.  The current law only allows for the expungement of one conviction.

Opposition to House Bill 4186

Some have voiced concern that the Bill favors the offender over the welfare of society; however, the Bill does not allow for the expungement of offenses for domestic violence, offenses of a sexual nature, stalking, or drunk driving, nor does it allow expungement for crimes that are punishable by life in prison.  It does not expand eligibility to more serious offenses, but rather allows for more convictions of a less serious nature to be expunged once a person can prove that they have indeed become rehabilitated.

HB 4186 Will Allow Reintegration Back Into Society

If passed, this Bill will release many from the bonds of their invisible sentence.  It will allow former offenders to obtain the education and licensing that they need to be reintegrated into society.  It will allow them to obtain higher-paying positions, and support their families.  The Bill will allow many to purchase a home for the first time without the fear that their conviction will hinder their ability to do so.  Increased potential for employment will reduce the chance that former offenders will return to criminal behavior to make ends meet, and the Bill will reduce the rate of recidivism in Michigan and it offers a second chance to many.

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4 Responses to House Bill 4186 Could Lessen The Effect of the Invisible Sentence in Michigan

  1. Philip J. says:

    I was convicted of felony charges by accepting all by judge with a court appointed attorney 21 years ago by being labeled as an RSO and have paid fines, taken courses to rehabilitate, went through 1 year of required counseling, did community service and settlement arrangements in favor for my exwife’s daughter to rehabilitate as well. Some have not accepted their punishment due to them and were granted temporary insanity. I feel I am not a sex offender but why must I live the rest of my entire life as a disgrace to all of society with no appeal. Even killers are given better acceptance back into society compared to a label of this. I have been happily married for 20 years, I have owned 3 homes, and have had terrible struggles keeping a job once a background check has been made in the last several years and gets worse as each year continues in my life. I feel this is unfair to my human rights as an Individual. Can you please advise me as to whom to seek for legal advise or what is involved for a pardon or restriction of rights?

  2. Jenna Thorne says:

    Hello Philip, I am not sure if your case was in Michigan or elsewhere. If you want to call our office at 877-573-7273, we can discuss your options with you or give you information to help you find an attorney if we are not licensed in the state where your case was located.

  3. kasandra says:

    i am a person who would benefit from this bill being passed. it has definitely been a struggle. I really screwed my life up with these misdeameanor convictions on my record one is a poss of control sub use the other is a retail fraud. I had never had any run ins with the law until i was 30 years old. I had been certified cna for 10yrs. Basically drugs was my downfall i have been clean for over 11yrs. But i am constantly reminded when i can’t do a job that i love which is helping people.

  4. Adam says:

    I messed my life up when I was 19 by hanging out with the wrong crowd. I got into some bad ways and was convicted of Attempted Uttering and Publishing just for having one of my friends bags in my car with checks that were filled out of someone’s he had stolen. They were in my possession so the court felt I had lied about it and convicted me. I then 2 years later received two misdemeanor’s for driving with out insurance and then without registration. Both were due to moving vehicles after a purchase, but seems that I could not reason with the courts at the time. I am now a happy father of 2, and a Network Engineer and have a beautiful wife. Even with all of this, I am still limited to the great opportunities that I see out there in my field due to my record. I could honestly make 20k if not more in my salary if I did not have these convictions. Since the misdemeanor’s were traffic violations, this bill would help me greatly and I would be able to get rid of the felony which is the biggest weight on my record. Everyone is stupid when they are young. It’s just some get caught like myself and others trying to fit in. All I want to do is provide for my family and I feel bad each day that my full potential at earnings is hindering my family due to some stupid actions I did when I was young. I really hope this goes through, not only for me, but others like myself supporting families and attempting to be a beneficial participant in society.

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