Expungements in Michigan – Erasing a Criminal Record

As jobs become harder to find everywhere, especially those in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, anyone looking wants to do everything to better their chances of being hired. As a Criminal Defense Attorney, I am often asked about Criminal Convictions, Criminal Records, and what to answer on a job application. Anyone who can avoid the burden of admitting to a Criminal Record is, of course, better off. More and more employers are running Criminal Background checks on current and prospective employees, and new laws in different industries (for example, Education and Health Care) prevent people from working in them if they have certain kinds of Criminal Convictions.

For those who have a Criminal Record they want erased, there are several requirements that must be met before they can even try to proceed.

Eraser.jpgFirst, the person who wants their record cleaned, called the “Applicant,” must have no criminal convictions on their record except the one they are seeking to have removed. This confuses some people who may also have a past arrest for DUI or DWLS. Drunk Driving and Driving While License Suspended are Criminal Offenses. I note this because very often, when asking a person if they have any other crimes on their record beyond the one they’d like to have removed, they’ll say “No, nothing more than a Drunk Driving Case a long time ago.” If a person is seeking to have a Conviction removed from their record, and they also have had a DUI or a Suspended License conviction, no matter how long ago, they are ineligible. The law, while perhaps harsh, is also very clear on this point; if a person has more than one Criminal Conviction on their record, they are ineligible for an Expungement, which is legally known as a “Set-Aside of Conviction.”

Second, an Applicant’s conviction must be at least 5 years old.

Third, Driving-Related (and certain other very serious) Offenses cannot be Set Aside from a Criminal Record. This means that DUI and Suspended License offenses from the past cannot be removed.

If a person meets all of these criteria, then the process can begin by filing what’s called an “Application to Set Aside Conviction.” The process itself involves obtaining fingerprints, filing the Application with the Court where the Conviction originally occurred, receiving and attending a Hearing, and notifying multiple parties, including the State Police, the Michigan Attorney General, and the Prosecutor’s Office that originally handled the case, of that Hearing. I describe the Process of “Expungement” more fully on my website.