It’s common for clients to tell us they want their case over as soon as possible so they can move on with their lives. Having a criminal record makes it hard to do that, creating difficulties when trying to find employment, housing, and getting loans. For these reasons, you should see if you are eligible to get a conviction expunged from your record.
Setting aside a conviction, also known as an expungement, changes your conviction from public to nonpublic and you are legally considered not to have been convicted. This means if your conviction is expunged, you are able to say you have never been convicted of the crime.
For instance, if you were convicted of delivering and manufacturing marijuana and got that conviction set aside, you would be able to honestly tell potential employers you have never been convicted of delivering and manufacturing marijuana.
Before you attempt to expunge your conviction you need to make sure you are eligible. Not all convictions can be expunged and a certain period of time must pass before a conviction can be set aside. If you aren’t eligible, check back in a few years to see if the statute has changed, as it has been amended several times.
This article discusses how to get an adult conviction expunged, although you can get a juvenile conviction expunged as well.
Are you trying to expunge a felony or a misdemeanor?
- To expunge a felony, you must not be convicted of more than one felony and two misdemeanors.
- To expunge a misdemeanor, you must not be convicted of more than two misdemeanors and can’t have any felony convictions. You can attempt to expunge both misdemeanors.
Does Michigan’s statute allow you to expunge your conviction?
The following cannot be set aside:
- A felony conviction with a maximum punishment of life imprisonment
- A felony conviction for domestic violence if you also have a previous misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence
- Traffic offenses, including operating while intoxicated (OWI)
- Second degree child abuse
- A conviction for committing child abuse in front of another child
- Criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, third degree, or assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct.
- Criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree UNLESS:
– You were convicted before January 12, 2015, AND
– You haven’t been convicted of more than two (2) minor offenses. A minor offense means a misdemeanor or ordinance violation, to which all of the following apply:
- Maximum term of imprisonment does not exceed 90 days
- Maximum permissible fine is not more than $1,000.00
- You were not more than 21 years old when you were convicted
- Terrorism offenses
- Using the internet or a computer to commit certain crimes
– Speak with an attorney to see if you are eligible if you have a conviction that involves use of the internet or a computer.
- Production or possession of child pornography
- Human trafficking
– If you committed prostitution-related offense(s) as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking you are eligible to get the conviction(s) expunged.
Certain convictions that were deferred and dismissed will be considered misdemeanors for purposes of determining whether or not you are eligible. Consult an attorney to find out if you have a conviction that falls under this category.
Has enough time passed?
You cannot attempt to get your conviction expunged unless at least five (5) years have passed since your sentencing date or release from probation, parole, or imprisonment for that conviction. Whichever occurred most recently is when the five-year waiting period begins.
I’m Eligible. Now What Do I Do?
Once you determine you are eligible you need to request a hearing. To request a hearing there are certain documents that need to be submitted.
Certified copy of conviction
First, obtain this from the court that convicted you for a small fee. You will need to provide the court with your name, the exact charge, and date of conviction.
Application to set aside conviction
Once you have the certified copy of conviction you should fill out the application (form MC 227 which can be found through google search). Once the application has been filled out and your signature has been notarized, make five copies of the application and the certified copy of conviction.
You need to mail the originals, four (4) copies of the application and the certified copy of conviction to the convicting court. You will get copies back in the mail; one is for your own personal records.
The other copies need to be mailed to the following (the exact addresses can be found on the application):
- Prosecuting Attorney of the county where the convicting court is located
- Michigan Attorney General
- Michigan State Police
– The fingerprint card and check are also mailed to the Michigan State Police at this time.
- Fingerprints: Go to a police station and get your fingerprints taken for a small fee. Be sure to tell the police you are trying to get a conviction set aside. You will need to bring identification.
- Check: A $50 money order made payable to Michigan State Police is needed.
After mailing copies to the Prosecutor, Attorney General, and Michigan State Police, fill out the proof of service that is on the application and submit it to the court with a copy of the application.
What to Expect During Your Expungement Hearing
A hearing date is set approximately two to three months after the court receives the necessary documents. In the meantime, you should gather supporting documents such as college transcripts, letters of support, proof of volunteer work, and anything else that will show you are a rehabilitated, upstanding citizen.
Make sure you prepare and bring four (4) copies of the order on application to set aside conviction (form MC 228, which can be found here). The judge will then fill out and sign the order. If your conviction was for an assaultive crime or a serious misdemeanor, the prosecuting attorney will notify the victim and the victim can appear at your hearing to make a written or oral statement.
Be advised that just because you are eligible for an expungement, it does not mean you are guaranteed to get your conviction expunged. A judge must be convinced that you should not have the conviction on your record.
Don’t let your past mistakes keep you from moving forward with your life. Hire an attorney to help you expunge your conviction. It is important to note that if the judge denies your petition, you won’t be able to try again until three (3) years have passed from the date you get denied. That’s a risk you can’t afford to take.
Sarah Tarockoff is the Paralegal at The Law Offices of Barton Morris. She earned a Paralegal Certificate from Oakland Community College in 2015 and graduated from Oakland University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a concentration in criminal justice. She completed internships at the 52-3 District Court where she aided probation officers in the Probation Department and at Bernstein & Bernstein, where she worked closely with attorneys and paralegals on various litigation-related matters.