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Expungement of Criminal Records

It's a simple fact of life that everyone makes mistakes. While most mistakes result in nothing more than hard lessons learned, others have a tendency to follow us for the rest of our lives. This is especially true when talking about mistakes that result in criminal convictions. Criminal convictions are not ever "wiped clean" simply by the passage of time. Once convicted a record of that conviction is there for anyone to see, until you take action to have it removed.

For most people criminal records become particularly problematic when seeking employment. Not too long ago, potential employers were only concerned with felony convictions, and generally ignored or didn't care about minor misdemeanor convictions. Those days are long gone and increasingly employers, schools, and even non-profits are requesting information about any convictions someone has on their record. Even a relatively trivial criminal charge such as retail fraud can be an absolute bar to employment in some fields, admission to college, and enlistment in the military.

While there are many reasons to have a criminal record expunged, the effect is the same. The charge is removed from your public record. You will be able to honestly tell future employers and anyone else who might care to know, that you have not been convicted of the crime which you were originally charged with. The crime will not show up on most criminal background checks and will not be produced in connection with most requests made through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). However, it is important to note that, although the charge will be removed from your public record, a nonpublic record still exists and can be seen by law enforcement and courts.

New legislation in Michigan has expanded the types of crimes and the number of crimes which can be expunged from someone's criminal record. Generally speaking, if you have been convicted of not more than one felony and not more than two misdemeanors, you can apply to have the felony removed from your record. If you have no felony convictions, you can ask the court to set aside one or both of the misdemeanor convictions.

In order to be eligible, at least five years must have passed since the last of these happened in relation to the conviction you are seeking to have set aside:

  • imposition of the sentence;
  • completion of probation;
  • discharge from parole;
  • or completion of any term of imprisonment.

However, certain crimes such as those punishable by up to life in prison, driving offenses, and criminal sexual conduct, are not eligible for expungement.

So what can our attorneys do to help you succeed in your efforts to have crimes removed from your record? To begin, the application and process to initiate the proceedings can be complicated and time consuming. Our experienced attorneys can and will assist you in understanding and streamlining the process. In some courts there is a several month wait from the time your application is filed until it is heard. So there is not a day to waste in getting your application and materials filed.

Next, the Michigan State Police, Prosecuting Attorney's Office, and the Attorney General will all be notified of your motion and can appear at the hearing or object to your expungement. Our attorneys will assist you in preparing for the hearing and strongly advocate on your behalf in persuading the judge that you deserve to have a fresh start.

Additionally, if your crime involved a victim, that victim will likely be notified that you are trying to have the conviction removed and they have a right to appear at your hearing and give their opinion as to whether or not you should have the offense removed from your record.

Finally, and most importantly, having your criminal conviction set aside is not guaranteed to happen simply because you are eligible. The burden is absolutely on you (with they assistance of your attorney) to prove to the court that you deserve to have the conviction removed from your record. Generally, courts want evidence that you have learned from your mistakes, that you are apologetic, that you have made positive improvements in your life, and most importantly, that you will not make the same mistakes. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the process, prepare you for the hearing, anticipate potential problems, and ensure that you stand the best chance for success.

If you are interested in a second chance or have questions regarding your eligibility to have your public record cleared in Michigan, call one of our experienced lawyers at 616-426-9609, or fill out the contact form on this site.