Convicted Felons' Rights in Michigan
In Michigan, convicted felons lose rights ranging from gun ownership to running for public office. These rights are taken away to protect the public from further harm, but the process is controversial in some instances. Some, but not all, of the convict's rights are reinstated after the sentence has been served.
After finishing their sentence, convicted felons lose right to own a firearm for at least three years. Felons convicted of specified felonies, including violent or drug-related offenses as well as breaking into an occupied residence, may not own a gun for five years after the sentence is served. Sometimes the conviction can be set aside and the right to own a firearm reinstated.
If someone holding public office is convicted of a felony, she is removed from office. If the crime was election-related the felon is ineligible to serve in that office after release. Also, if a person in public office is convicted of taking bribes, she can never stand for public office again. While Michigan law does not prohibit someone from running for federal office, many of the same restrictions apply at the federal level as well.
If the felony involves a motor vehicle, the felon might lose his right to a driver’s license depending on the crime committed. If the right to a driver’s license is not immediately restored after the sentence is served, the felon can petition the local circuit court to have driving privileges restored. The restored license may be restricted to certain uses, such as driving to and from work.
Under state law, Michigan residents who are serving a jail sentence cannot vote or register to vote until the sentence is finished. This law applies to Michigan residents who are serving a sentence in other states. A person being held before or during a trial is still eligible to register and vote because she is presumed to be innocent. This applies to both state and federal elections.
The practice of denying felons the right to vote, whether during or after the sentence is served, is controversial. Opponents of the practice claim that felon disenfranchisement has a real effect on the outcome of elections. Researchers also claim that 5.3 million Americans are currently unable to vote because of felony convictions, including 13 percent of all black American men. Opponents of the practice say that this partially disenfranchises ethnic minorities.
- Michigan Department of Civil Rights: State & Federal Rights & Privileges Lost upon Conviction of a Felony
- Michigan State Police: Michigan Concealed Pistol Law FAQ
- Michigan Legislature: Michigan Vehicle Code (Excerpt)
- Northwestern University: The Truly Disfranchised
- The Sentencing Project: Voting Rights