Criminal Law

Record Sealing and Expungement in Michigan

In Michigan, you might be eligible to have your criminal record expunged or set aside if you meet certain requirements. After your conviction is set aside, it won’t show up in most background checks and, in most cases, you won’t have to disclose it.

It can be hard to get work, a professional license, or school financial aid if you have a criminal record. However, in Michigan, many misdemeanor and some felony convictions are eligible to be expunged or “set aside,” so that the public cannot access your criminal record.

What Does It Mean to Have Your Criminal Record Expunged, Sealed, or Set Aside?

In Michigan, the process of expungement (called “sealing” in some states) is known as having your criminal record “set aside,” meaning that your conviction is hidden from public view. In most cases after your record is set aside you won’t have to disclose—to potential employers, for example—that you were convicted of a crime. Only the courts and certain government agencies can view a conviction that has been set aside. (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 780.623 (2018).)

Who Is Eligible to Have Their Criminal Record Set Aside?

Michigan law allows you to petition to have your record set aside under the following circumstances:

  • If you have been convicted of no more than one felony and no more than two misdemeanors, you can petition to set aside the felony conviction.
  • If you have been convicted of two or fewer misdemeanors and no other felony or misdemeanor offenses, you can petition to set aside one or both of the misdemeanor convictions.

(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 780.621 (2018).)

Additionally, if you have any convictions—felonies or misdemeanors—that were deferred and dismissed, they will be considered misdemeanor convictions when determining whether you are eligible to have your record set aside. (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 780.621 (2018).)

You must wait five years after your conviction, release from prison, or discharge from parole before you can apply to have your record set aside. Once you have had an adult conviction set aside, you are not eligible for future expungements.

Victims of Human Trafficking

If you have been convicted of any of the prostitution crimes specified in the law as a result of being a victim of human trafficking, you are eligible to have more than one of those convictions set aside. And, if that’s the case, you don’t have to wait five years to apply for expungement; you may apply to have your record set aside at any time. (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 780.621 (2018).)

Who Is Ineligible to Have Their Criminal Records Set Aside?

You may not have your record set aside if:

  • you were convicted of a felony or an attempt to commit a felony for which the maximum possible penalty is life imprisonment
  • you were convicted of felony domestic violence and have a previous misdemeanor domestic violence conviction
  • you were convicted of a human trafficking offense
  • you were convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct on or after January 12, 2015 (convictions for this offense can be set aside if they occurred before January 12, 2015 and you have no other convictions on your record other than two minor offenses)
  • you were convicted of committing or attempting to commit one of the specified child abuse, child sexual abuse, or criminal sexual assault crimes, or
  • the conviction you want to set aside is a traffic offense, including the crime of driving while intoxicated.

(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 780.621 (2018).)

How to Apply to Have Your Conviction Set Aside

If your record is eligible to be set aside, you will need to fill out a form called the “Application to Set Aside Conviction,” which can be found on the website of the Michigan Court system.

Here’s how the process typically works:

  • After completing the application to set aside conviction, you must file it with the court where you were convicted.
  • Then you’ll need to submit a copy of your application, a complete set of fingerprints, and the required fee to the Michigan State Police.
  • You must send additional copies of your petition to the attorney general and the prosecutor who handled your case. (The prosecutor or the attorney general will then have an opportunity to contest your application.)
  • The court will hold a hearing on your application, where you can explain why your conviction should be set aside. (It will help your case if you can show the judge that you have stayed out of trouble since your conviction.)
  • If the judge determines that your record should be set aside, he or she will sign an order to set aside conviction and file it with the court.

(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 780.621 (2018).)

After your criminal record is set aside, in most cases only you, the courts, or specified government agencies will have access to it. However, if you’re applying for a job with law enforcement or the department of corrections, a background check will reveal all of your criminal convictions—even ones that have been set aside. (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 780.623 (2018).)

Get Legal Help

Cleaning up a criminal record can be complicated. Not all convictions are eligible to be set aside, and the law can change at any time. An experienced criminal law attorney can advise you on whether you qualify for expungement and, if you do, help you prepare and submit the necessary paperwork.

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