Can I Get My Criminal Record Expunged?

erasing the past

If you have been convicted of a crime, you may experience difficulty finding a job, renting an apartment, or getting into college or technical school. You may even have had to forfeit some of your rights, such as the right to possess a firearm, to serve on a jury, or to hold public office.

While being convicted of a crime can have life-changing effects, you may be able to lessen the impact of a criminal conviction by working with an experienced criminal defense attorney to seek an expungement.

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is a legal process that will shield your conviction from public view during a criminal background check and allow you to truthfully answer, in all but a few limited circumstances, that you do not have a criminal record.

Criminal background checks are used for a variety of reasons, such as by employers when you are applying for a job, when you want to rent an apartment, or when you are applying for school. A criminal conviction can make it more difficult to get hired, find an apartment, or get accepted into the school of your choice. By having your criminal record expunged, no one other than law enforcement personnel will be able to see your criminal record. This includes not just court documents and the record of your conviction, but also arrest records if criminal charges were filed but ultimately dismissed.

Am I Eligible to Have My Record Expunged?

In Michigan, if you have been convicted of one felony or two misdemeanors, you can apply for expungement no less than five years after you completed your sentence. Crimes that do not qualify for expungement include felonies that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, traffic offenses, and charges of criminal sexual conduct.

To begin the expungement process, your lawyer will need a certified copy of your conviction from the court where you were convicted, and will help you complete an Application to Set Aside Conviction. You will also need to be fingerprinted and have your application notarized. Finally, your attorney will file your application for expungement and the court will schedule a hearing.

Can I Handle My Own Expungement?

Having your criminal record expunged in Michigan is a complicated task that should not be attempted without the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can review your criminal record to help determine whether you are eligible, and will guide you through the process, file the necessary paperwork, and represent you in any court proceedings.

Can I Have My Juvenile Record Expunged?

Juvenile records are already restricted from access by the public. Courts recognize that young people may make poor decisions, and keeping juvenile records confidential is a recognition that people should not be punished for their ‘youthful indiscretions’ once they become adults.

Because the goal of juvenile courts is to rehabilitate youthful offenders rather than to punish them, juvenile records are kept sealed and access is only granted to parents or legal guardians, law enforcement personnel, school or government officials, child protective services, and attorneys for the juvenile. As a result, there is generally no need to have a juvenile criminal record expunged.

Clean Slate Legislation: Upcoming Changes to Michigan Expungement Laws

In October of 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law the Michigan Clean Slate Act. The new law will make expungement automatic for all people who are eligible. Beginning in October of 2022, the law will expunge misdemeanors seven years after sentencing, and felonies 10 years after sentencing or the date a person is released from incarceration (whichever is later).

Under the new law, people who have been convicted of up to two felonies or four misdemeanors will have their criminal record automatically cleared. However, crimes that are punishable by more than 10 years in prison, violent crimes, “crimes of dishonesty,” and other serious crimes will not be eligible.

In addition, beginning on April 10, 2021:

  • Misdemeanors will be eligible for expungement after three years, felonies after seven years, and serious misdemeanors or a single felony will be eligible for expungement after five years.
  • Felonies or misdemeanors that occurred within the same 24-hour period - known as “one bad night” - will be treated as a single conviction for purposes of expungement. Crimes of assault, crimes involving a deadly weapon, and crimes punishable by more than 10 years in prison will not be eligible.
  • Crimes that are subject to a sentence of life in prison, crimes of domestic violence, traffic offenses where someone was seriously injured or killed, crimes of child abuse or sexual assault, and convictions for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) will not be subject to expungement.
  • People who were convicted of multiple marijuana misdemeanors will be able to apply for streamlined expungement, which will require prosecutors who challenge the expungement to prove that the crime would still have been a crime if it occurred after adult marijuana use became legal in 2018.

Contact Elmen Legal Today for Help with Expungement

At Elmen Legal, I am proud to help my clients with any need related to criminal law. I have dedicated my career to helping people who have been charged with a crime, and to assisting people who have been convicted of a crime to get back on their feet, put their criminal past behind them, and move forward with their lives.

Learn more about the services I offer, read reviews from other people I’ve helped, and get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, then contact me today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss how I can help.