The Expungement Process Explained
Effect of ExpungementIf you have a criminal conviction, it is more difficult to obtain employment, rent an apartment, obtain credit, or qualify for public assistance. An expungement sets aside this conviction, allowing a person to honestly state to a potential employer, landlord or creditor that he or she does not have a criminal conviction. Once expunged, the conviction can only be used to enhance a subsequent sentence from new criminal activity. Obviously, you must avoid new criminal activity at all costs.
Warning: just because a conviction has been expunged does not ensure that under some circumstances, a potential employer may uncover the public court records from your conviction. Some professions such as law enforcement, are not bound by whether your conviction was set aside and may lawfully inquire into all the circumstances surrounding your conviction and arrest.
If you can get your conviction expunged, the law views your situation as though you were never convicted of a crime
Can My Conviction Be Expunged?Certain convictions cannot be expunged. For example, if your conviction has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, then it cannot be expunged. Other examples include criminal sexual conduct offenses and certain misdemeanor driving offenses under Michigan's Motor Vehicle Code that involve drunk driving. Also, if you've been convicted of more than one crime (or even multiple counts in a single criminal occurrence), then you cannot expunge your conviction.
In addition to the conviction you want to set aside, if you've had other convictions dismissed due to a delayed sentence, or some other statutory dismissal, you remain eligible so long as only one single conviction is on your official criminal record. Thus, convictions dismissed under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, or a "first offender" policy do not count against you. Five years must have elapsed since your conviction or, if incarcerated, since you successfully completed your supervision.
The Expungement ProcessAlthough you can attempt to set aside a conviction on your own, it is advisable to have an attorney prepare and file an "Application to Set Aside Conviction", the requisite filing fee, and the corresponding "Order on Application to Set Aside Conviction". These two required documents are approved by the State Court Administrator's Office. There are other documents required for your filing: a) certified copy of your judgment of sentence; b) finger prints; c) copies of your application mailed to the Michigan State Police, the Attorney General, and the prosecutor for the county of your conviction.
Your application will be scheduled for a hearing before the judge that sentenced you, or another judge of the county circuit court.
Your attorney will have a strategy to prepare for this hearing.
Preparing for the Hearing on Your ApplicationYour attorney will schedule the hearing after you have collected proof of employment, completion of any formal education or other training program, and letters of support from family and friends. These things will attest to your progress since putting your conviction behind you are useful in the expungement process. Also of value is proof of completion of a specific program of therapy, drug addiction treatment, AA milestone(s), anger management, or similar program.
Although the judge may not want to hear from your supporters directly, or have time to read all the proof of your positive accomplishments, your attorney is skilled in referencing them in the overall presentation on your behalf.
Basically, anything and everything positive about your life since your conviction should be outlined, documented, and discussed with your attorney and ready to go.
Follow-Up If Your Conviction is ExpungedIf the judge grants your application of expungement and signes the order your attorney prepared, you should follow-up by obtaining copies of the order and take the initiative (through your attorney) of sending copies of the order to the Attorney General and the Michigan State Police.
Recent Developments - July 2011As you can see from the recently revised form attached below, a person with no more than two prior "minor convictions" is now eligible provided the person was under the age of 22 and it has been 5-years since these convictions.