Expungements in Michigan are governed by state law under MCL 780.621. Previously, a person with more than one conviction, including one felony and a misdemeanor or multiple misdemeanor offenses were not eligible to apply for a criminal record expungement. 

In 2015, Michigan modified its expungement statue to allow persons who meet the following criteria to seek a criminal expungement:

• Not more than one felony and not more than two misdemeanor offenses.

• At least five years have passed from the date of release from jail or prison and/or discharge from probation or completion of other terms of sentence, including restitution.

• The felony conviction does not carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

• The conviction does not fall under Michigan’s child abuse first-fourth degree statutes.

The following offenses cannot be expunged:

• A felony conviction for domestic violence by a person with a previous misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence.

• Certain offenses under Michigan’s Motor Vehicle Code such as driving while intoxicated, driving with open alcohol in the vehicle and driving with no insurance and/or driving while license suspended or revoked.

An applicant who meets the legal criteria and is eligible for expungement can petition the sentencing court to set-aside, or expunge, the criminal conviction.

Here is how to proceed:

• File an application with the sentencing court. Complete a separate application for each conviction if more than one.

• Find out from the court the exact date of conviction(s) and the exact charge(s). Get a certified copy of the adjudication and attach it to your application.

• Swear to the truth on the statements in the application and sign it in front of the court clerk or a notary public.

• Make four copies of the application and all attachments and take all copies to the court clerk, who at some point will set a hearing date.

• Go to the local police agency for a fingerprint card and get fingerprinted, and fill out the applicant card, which will become part of the application packet.

• Make out a money order or check to the state of Michigan for the application. The fee is $50 and is sent with the application packet to the Michigan State Police for processing.

• Mail copies of the application packet to the state police, the Michigan Attorney General and the prosecutor’s office in the county where the conviction occurred.

• Fill in the proof of service on the back of the application form, and mail or take a copy of the application packet to the court. Keep a copy for your records.

If the expungement process is not handled correctly and the expungement request is denied by a judge, Michigan’s expungement law requires that a person wait three years before re-applying.

More information about the process and applicable forms can be found at michiganlegalhelp.org, michigan.gov, and berriencounty.org, under departments, click on self-help legal resource.

The self-help center, on the third floor of the courthouse in St. Joseph, has forms available and people to help.

Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter: @HPSwidwa