It can be hard to get work, professional licenses, or school financial aid if you have a criminal record, especially a felony conviction. Michigan allows you to have one conviction expunged, or set aside, so that it will not show up in a background check. The state sets strict requirements for this privilege.

Expungement and Record Sealing Defined

Expungement and record sealing are similar procedures that have the same end result: The public cannot access records related to your crime. In strict terms, expungement means to destroy the records, and sealing means the records cannot be seen without a court order. In common usage, however, expungement often also refers to sealing records without destroying them.

Eligibility for Expungement in Michigan

The state allows you to have one felony or misdemeanor conviction set aside, but it must meet certain restrictions. You may not have records expunged if:

  • The maximum sentence for the crime is life in prison, even if you received a lesser sentence.
  • You were convicted of committing or attempting to commit a sex crime.
  • The conviction was traffic-related.
  • You have additional convictions, other than up to two minor offenses, on your record.

You must also wait five years after your conviction or release from prison before your records can be expunged. Once you have had an adult conviction set aside, you are not eligible for future expungements.

Juveniles may have adjudications set aside if they have three or fewer juvenile offenses on their record. They must not have any felony convictions.

Documents and Information You Will Need

You will need the appropriate application, which differs for adult convictions and juvenile adjudications. Additional documents and information you may need include:

  • A fingerprint card for the state police obtained from any Michigan law enforcement agency
  • A certified copy of your conviction record
  • The name and address of the prosecutor in your case

The prosecutor's name should be on your conviction record; you should be able to get a current address from the Michigan Prosecuting Attorney Office Directory.

How to File for Expungement or Record Sealing

After filling out your application, you must file it and any other needed documents with the court that handled your case. The prosecutor, state police, and attorney general all need copies of your application as well.

You will have a hearing where you will need to convince the judge that you deserve to have your conviction set aside. It will help your case if you can show you have stayed out of trouble since your conviction. Your victims and law enforcement officials have the option of objecting to or supporting your application.

After Expungement Is Granted

If the judge orders your conviction set aside, you will need to make sure records at all relevant agencies get expunged. You or the court must send copies of the order to the state police, department of corrections, and other agencies that may have criminal records. It takes about a month to remove records from the state's Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT). It is a good idea to check ICHAT and also verify with other agencies that your records have been removed.

Consider Getting Legal Help from a Michigan Attorney

The information presented here is very general and may not apply to your particular situation. An experienced lawyer can offer specific legal advice, help you figure out if you qualify for expungement, and submit the paperwork on your behalf.

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