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Does Mike Ross Go to Prison?

Mike Ross is one of the central characters in the hit legal drama Suits. A college dropout with a photographic memory, Mike manages to talk his way into a top associate position at the prestigious law firm Pearson Hardman despite never having attended law school. This sets up years of him practicing law illegally, constantly trying to avoid being caught. But does he ultimately end up in prison for his fraudulent actions?

Mike’s History of Practicing Law Without a Degree

After getting hired by name partner Harvey Specter, Mike must work incredibly hard studying the law and staying one step ahead to keep up the charade that he is a Harvard-educated lawyer. Some of the crimes and ethical violations Mike commits over the seasons include:

  • Practicing law without a degree/license
  • Lying on his resume and in interviews
  • Faking signatures of supervising attorneys
  • Repeated instances of perjury in courtrooms
  • Obstruction of justice to conceal his secret

Mike manages to avoid detection for several years under the protection of Harvey. But various close calls continually threaten to expose his lack of qualifications.

Times Mike’s Secret is Almost Revealed

Mike comes perilously close to being caught on numerous occasions:

  • A rival lawyer discovers Mike’s secret but agrees to remain silent for leverage (Season 1)
  • The bar association opens an investigation into Mike’s background (Season 1)
  • Harvey’s former mentor begins looking into Mike’s credentials (Season 2)
  • Mike is arrested for conspiracy to commit fraud with an old friend (Season 2)
  • Mike’s girlfriend discovers his lack of a law degree (Season 3)
  • A government prosecutor investigates Mike as part of a larger case (Season 4)
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Despite all these near misses, Mike’s ruse holds up through the first several seasons. But his luck eventually runs out.

Mike Gets Arrested and Goes to Trial

In season 5, Mike’s past finally catches up to him when he is arrested for conspiracy to commit fraud. The charges relate to that old case with his former friend Trevor.

Mike ends up going to trial, where the prosecution aims to prove he has never attended law school. Harvey and the team at Pearson Specter Litt mount a vigorous defense, but the evidence against Mike is overwhelming.

His unethical actions are finally exposed, and he ultimately pleads guilty to avoid harsher punishment. In a heartbreaking scene, Mike is last seen being led out of court in handcuffs before heading to prison.

Key Events Leading to Mike’s Arrest and Conviction

  • Harvey’s former colleague turns on them and reports Mike to the Bar Association (Season 5)
  • With evidence piling up, Harvey advises Mike to make a deal to avoid disbarment (Season 5)
  • Mike rejects the deal and ends up arrested for fraud (Season 5)
  • Harvey works out a plea deal for Mike to serve 2 years in prison (Season 5)
  • Mike pleads guilty and prepares to report to prison (Season 5)

While the ending is bittersweet, Mike ends up accepting responsibility for his actions.

Mike Does His Time and Gets Released

Mike surrenders himself and serves his two year sentence in a minimum security prison. He keeps his head down and avoids trouble on the inside.

In one of the Suits series finale episodes, Harvey goes to visit Mike in prison towards the end of his sentence. They share an emotional scene through the glass, and Harvey promises to be there when Mike gets released.

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True to his word, Harvey is waiting outside the prison gates when Mike walks free at the end of season 9. Free of his legal troubles at last, Mike heads off to start the next chapter of his life.

Table of Mike Ross’s Major Legal Transgressions

Crime/ViolationDate
Lying on resume to Pearson Hardman2007
Practicing law without a degree2007-2012
Obstruction of justice2008-2013
Perjury in court2010-2014
Conspiracy to commit fraud2012

Conclusion: Mike’s Tragic Fall and Redemption

Mike Ross committed grievous ethical transgressions by practicing law for years without a degree. His fraud eventually did catch up to him, leading to arrest, disbarment, and a guilty plea that sent him to prison. However, he did his time and emerged a free man ready to move on.

Mike’s story is one of extraordinary intelligence leading to hubris. His belief in beating the system resulted in a steep fall, but he ultimately took responsibility for his actions. While he committed serious offenses, Mike Ross demonstrated resilience and maturity in learning from his mistakes without letting them define his future. His redemption arc gives the character an admirable quality despite his illegal behavior.

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