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Understanding Michigan Expungement: Your Complete Checklist

Understanding Michigan Expungement: Your Complete Checklist

Navigating the path to a clean record in Michigan can be complex. With the right guidance, however, the process of expungement can be broken down into manageable steps. This comprehensive checklist is designed to help individuals understand the Michigan expungement process, including eligibility, necessary steps, and associated costs.

Eligibility for Michigan Expungement

Before diving into the process, it’s crucial to determine if you’re eligible for expungement by looking at your criminal history or public criminal record. Here’s what you need to know:

Understanding Michigan Expungement: Your Complete Checklist

  • Types of Convictions: Most misdemeanors and up to three felony convictions can be set aside.
  • Waiting Periods: The time you must wait before applying for expungement varies: Three years for misdemeanors
  • Exclusions: Certain crimes, such as offenses punishable by life imprisonment, assaultive crimes, and offenses involving minors, are not eligible.

Detailed Steps to File for Michigan Expungement

Embarking on the journey to clear your criminal record in Michigan can be a life-changing decision. The process, known as expungement, involves a series of steps that must be followed carefully to ensure success. Here’s a breakdown of each step, designed to guide you through the Michigan expungement process with clarity and ease.

Understanding Michigan Expungement: Your Complete Checklist

Step 1: Application Preparation

  • Complete the Application: Your first step is to fill out the Application to Set Aside Conviction, also referred to as SCAO Form MC 227. This form is your formal request to have your conviction expunged and is a critical component of the process.
  • Where to Find the Form: The form can be downloaded from the Michigan Courts website or obtained from the court where you were convicted.

Step 2: Gathering Documentation

  • Certified Record of Conviction: You will need to obtain a certified copy of the conviction you wish to have set aside. This official document can typically be acquired from the clerk of the court where you were convicted.
  • What to Include: Ensure that the certified record includes the judgment of conviction, the date of sentencing, and any other pertinent details that the application requires.

Step 3: Fingerprinting

  • Obtaining Fingerprints: Fingerprints are required to accompany your expungement application. You can have your fingerprints taken at a local law enforcement agency or a Michigan State Police post.
  • Cost and Submission: There may be a fee for fingerprinting. Once completed, you’ll need to submit the fingerprint card to the Michigan State Police along with your application and a $50 fee.

Step 4: Notification Process

  • Serving the Application: After filing your application with the court, you must serve copies to several key parties:The prosecuting attorney’s office where the conviction occurred.
  • Proof of Service: It’s important to keep proof that you have served these copies, as you’ll need to provide this information to the court.

Step 5: The Hearing

  • Attending the Hearing: A hearing will be scheduled where you may need to explain to a judge why your record should be expunged. This is your opportunity to present your case and demonstrate how you’ve changed since the conviction.
  • Preparation: It’s advisable to prepare for the hearing by gathering any documents that support your case for expungement.

Understanding the Costs of Michigan Expungement

Understanding Michigan Expungement: Your Complete Checklist

The financial aspect of expungement is an important consideration. Here’s what you can expect in terms of costs:Court and State Fees

  • State of Michigan Fee: A $50 fee is payable to the State of Michigan when you submit your fingerprints and application to the Michigan State Police.
  • Court Fees: While court fees for filing the expungement application are generally low, they can vary depending on the court.

Attorney Fees

  • Legal Representation: Although not mandatory, it is highly recommended to hire an attorney to guide you through the expungement process. An attorney can help ensure that your application is completed correctly and can represent you at the hearing.
  • Cost of an Attorney: Attorney fees for expungement cases start around $2000. This investment can be worthwhile, considering the potential cost of a denied application and the subsequent three-year waiting period before you can reapply.

Benefits of Expungement

Clearing your record can open doors that were previously closed:

Understanding Michigan Expungement: Your Complete Checklist

  • Employment Opportunities: An expungement can significantly improve job prospects.
  • Housing Options: It can be easier to secure housing without a criminal record.
  • Restoration of Rights: Certain civil rights may be restored post-expungement.

Automatic Expungement in Michigan: A Closer Look

Michigan’s Clean Slate laws have changed the expungement process by introducing the concept of automatic expungement for certain offenses. This means that eligible individuals can have their records cleared without the need to go through the traditional application process. Understanding the nuances of automatic expungement is key for those seeking a fresh start.

Who is Eligible for Automatic Expungement?

Automatic expungement is designed to simplify the process for those with eligible offenses. Here’s what you need to know about eligibility:

Understanding Michigan Expungement: Your Complete Checklist

  • Misdemeanor Offenses: Individuals with up to four misdemeanor convictions may see these offenses automatically expunged from their records.
  • Felony Offenses: Those with up to two felony convictions could also benefit from automatic expungement, provided they meet the criteria.
  • Time Period: The automatic expungement process will begin after a set period following the completion of the sentence. This period is typically seven years for misdemeanors and ten years for felonies.
  • Continuous Clean Record: To qualify, individuals must not have committed any offenses during the waiting period that would disqualify them from automatic expungement.

Understanding the Exclusions

Not all offenses are eligible for automatic expungement under Michigan’s Clean Slate laws. It’s important to be aware of the exclusions:

Understanding Michigan Expungement: Your Complete Checklist

  • Assaultive Crimes: Offenses that are considered assaultive are not eligible for automatic expungement. This includes crimes where intentional harm or threat of harm is involved.
  • Serious Misdemeanors: Certain misdemeanors that are classified as ‘serious’ under the law do not qualify for automatic removal from one’s record.
  • Specific Offenses: There are particular offenses that are excluded from automatic expungement. These typically include crimes that carry a severe societal stigma or public safety concern, such as criminal sexual conduct, offenses that involve a minor or vulnerable adult, and human trafficking.

What Does This Mean for You?

If you have a record in Michigan and are hoping for expungement, the automatic process could be a game-changer. It eliminates the need for court visits, paperwork, and potential legal fees associated with the traditional expungement process. However, it’s crucial to determine whether your convictions are eligible for automatic expungement or if you need to pursue the application route.

Next Steps if You’re Not Eligible for Automatic Expungement

Understanding Michigan Expungement: Your Complete Checklist

  • Review Your Record: Take a close look at your criminal record to understand which convictions you have and whether they fall under the exclusion categories.
  • Seek Legal Advice: If you’re unsure about your eligibility for automatic expungement, consider consulting with a legal professional who specializes in Michigan expungement cases.
  • Consider Traditional Expungement: For those with convictions that are not eligible for automatic expungement, the traditional application process remains an option. This process involves the steps outlined earlier in this guide.

Final Thoughts

Michigan’s expungement laws offer a chance to move past a criminal record and embrace new opportunities by hiding your record from background checks, employers, landlords, and other eyes.  By following this checklist and understanding the process, costs, and benefits, you can take informed steps towards clearing your record and improving your future. Remember, while this guide provides a general overview, consulting with an experienced attorney can provide personalized advice and increase the likelihood of a successful expungement.

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and is provided as is without any guarantee of accuracy. If you need a professional legal opinion, click here to send in your legal request.

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