a pair of handcuffs with fingerprint illustrating criminal expungement
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By Royce Nunley

Getting convicted of a felony or misdemeanor can have a very big impact on your life. Aside from the loss of your freedom if you are incarcerated in a prison or jail, you can also have restrictions placed on your life during a period of probation. Beyond these most obvious impacts, a criminal record can also harm your reputation, making it more difficult to get gainful employment or quality housing. With the advent of the Internet, public criminal records have become easier to locate for prospective employers and landlords, as well as the numerous companies that offer to perform background checks. Fortunately, the government of Michigan has created a pathway for many justice-impacted people to have their public criminal record sealed or expunged.

What is expungement?

In Michigan, getting a criminal record sealed or expunged is referred to as setting aside the conviction. What this means is that the number of people who will be able to see your conviction if this is granted becomes very limited. Right now, practically anyone can see your conviction record. If you are able to get it set aside, this will be limited to the court with jurisdiction over your case, agencies of Michigan state government including the Department of Corrections, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, the Michigan attorney general, and the governor. Further, these particular people must have a specifically permitted purpose to see your conviction, such as if you are arrested or convicted of a new crime or if you have applied for a job with law enforcement.

Who is eligible to apply for expungement?

Justice impacted people can apply to have their convictions set aside if they were convicted by a court in the state of Michigan. For those who have only misdemeanor convictions, there is no limit on the number of such convictions. If you have been convicted of a felony, you may not have more than three felonies in your lifetime in order to seek expungement. For those who have been convicted of assaultive crimes, you can only seek to have the convictions set aside if you have no more than two felony convictions.

Expungement does not apply to Michigan residents with federal felony and misdemeanor convictions. In addition, anyone convicted of more than two assaultive crimes cannot seek expungement, even if one of them was committed outside of Michigan. These are generally crimes that involve violence or the use of a dangerous weapon, and typically carry a maximum penalty of 10 or more years of incarceration. This means that even if you served less than 10 years, if the underlying offense could have led to 10 years in prison, it will be considered an assaultive crime. In addition, this relief is not available to most sex offenders, people with life sentences, those convicted of felony domestic violence, multiple DUI convictions, and DUI cases that resulted in death or serious impairment of another.

What is the process for expungement?

On April 11, 2023, Michigan began to enact the automatic sealing provisions of the Clean Slate laws. This automatically expunges certain convictions without the need to file an application. If you have a misdemeanor conviction that is more than 7 years since the date you were sentenced, it has probably been sealed. In fact, you can have unlimited misdemeanors that were punishable by less than 93 days of imprisonment set aside. For misdemeanors that were punishable by more than 93 days, you are limited to 4 automatically set aside in your lifetime. For people with felony convictions, the waiting period for automatic expungement is 10 years from the later of the date of sentencing or the completion of any term of incarceration. Each person can have up to two felonies automatically expunged in his or her lifetime. However, if you have ever been convicted of an assaultive offense, then you are ineligible for automatic expungement.

So what do you do if you need to get your conviction set aside sooner? You can still file to have your conviction set aside. Misdemeanor convictions require a three year waiting period from the date of sentencing, while those with a felony conviction are required to wait between five and seven years, depending on the number, type and severity of their crimes. Still, this is sooner than the periods set forth for automatic expungement.

The first step in the process is to get copies of your records. This includes a certified record of your conviction. Next, you will need to fill out the Application to Set Aside Conviction and sign it before a notary public. You will also have to be fingerprinted at your local police precinct or at the nearest post of the Michigan State Police. Once your application is complete, you will have to file it with the court where you were convicted, and send copies to the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Attorney General, and the prosecutor who handled your case. The court will then schedule a hearing for your application. As you can see, the process can be very complicated, which is a good idea why you should have an experienced criminal defense attorney assist you.

If you are looking to have your conviction set aside, call our firm today

Getting your life back together after a felony or misdemeanor conviction can be a very difficult task. Michigan has created a pathway back with the Clean Slate laws. Contact The Nunley Law Group so our experienced criminal defense attorneys can assist you with the process of getting your convictions expunged.

About the Author
Royce Nunley practices in the areas of Family Law, Criminal Law, Social Security, and Personal Injury law. Royce graduated Cum Laude from Wayne State University with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. He continued his education at Wayne Law, where he received his Juris Doctorate Cum Laude. Named to Superlawyer’s “rising stars” in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 for his work in Family Law.