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Expunging convictions

Q.

I have been denied public housing or employment because I have a criminal conviction on my record. Is there anything I can do to clear my record of that conviction?

A.

Yes, you might be able to have your conviction set aside (expunged). If you are able to set aside (expunge) your criminal conviction, it is treated the same as if that conviction never occurred. Therefore, on housing or job applications, when asked whether you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can answer "no."

Q.

How do I know if I can expunge a conviction from my record?

A.

The ability to expunge a conviction from your record is governed by statute. (MCL §780.612). Some basic rules to be aware of include:

  • You cannot have ever been convicted of more than one offense (misdemeanor or felony). Even if you have been convicted of two misdemeanors ten years apart, you cannot expunge either offense. Expungement is allowed for someone with only one conviction on his/her record.
  • At least five years must elapse since (1) the date of your conviction (if you were not incarcerated) or (2) from the date you were released from incarceration before you can apply to set aside your conviction. Thus, if you were convicted on February 1, 1998 but were not given a jail sentence, you can file an application to have the conviction set aside on or after five years from that date (February 1, 2003). However, if you were convicted on February 1, 998 and sentenced to prison and not released until February 15, 2002, you could not file an application to set aside your conviction until five years from the date you were released (which would be February 15, 2007).
Q.

Does it matter what type of crime I committed in determining whether it can be expunged from my record? In other words, are there some criminal convictions that CANNOT be expunged?

A.

The type of crime for which you were convicted does matter in determining whether or not you will be able to have it set it aside. There are certain crimes or offenses which cannot be expunged from a record including:

  • -A conviction for a traffic offense;
  • -A conviction for any felony for which the maximum possible sentence is life imprisonment (this is true even if the actual sentence handed down is less than than a life sentence).
  • -A conviction for a violation or attempted violation of laws concerning criminal sexual conduct (second degree CSC; third degree CSC; assault with intent to commit CSC).
Q.

Where do I go to get my conviction expunged?

A.

Your application to set aside your conviction must be filed with the same court in which your conviction was entered. Thus, if you were convicted in the 17th Circuit Court, you must file your application with the 17th Circuit Court. If your conviction was in 61st District Court, your application must be filed with the 61st District Court. You can contact the court clerk to determine the exact date of your conviction and the exact crime/charge for which you were convicted.

Q.

How do I go about trying to get my conviction expunged?

A.

You must complete and file with the court in which the conviction occurred an Application to Set Aside Conviction (click on this link for a copy of Michigan Approved Court Form MC- 227). The back of the court form has complete instructions that you must follow.

Q.

Where else can I obtain the form?

A.

You can also pick up this forrn at the court clerk's office. You may also obtain the forrn at your local public library.

Q.

What happens after I file my application with the court?

A.

Once you have filed your application and the court determines that everything is in order a hearing will be set. At this hearing, you will be questioned by the "People" represented by the prosecuting attorney. The victim(s) of your crime may also be notified of your application and have the right to be present at this hearing as well.

Q.

Am I entitled to be represented by counsel at this hearing?

A.

You can appear at this hearing as your own attorney or hire counsel to represent you. There is no right to court appointed counsel for you at this hearing. It may be wise for you to hire an attorney to represent you in this process since there is so much at stake.

Q.

As long as my application is in complete and I attend the hearing, do I have the right to have my conviction expunged?

A.

No. Setting aside a conviction is a privilege and not a right. The court will look at your circumstances and your behavior during the period between the date of your conviction and the time you filed your application for expungement. If the court determines that circumstances warrant setting aside your conviction and that so doing would be consistent with public welfare, it may enter an Order Setting Aside the Conviction. (Click on link for copy of Michigan Approved Court Form MC 228.)

The information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice or representationYou should talk with an attorney if you have any questions about how this information applies to your own problem or facts.