When you’ve got a criminal record, going through life becomes difficult. It’s hard to find a job that will hire you, get a loan from a bank, get a house, etc. It is the main reason why people who have a criminal record would like to request setting aside their conviction. The technical term for this is expungement. It is the process in which a criminal offender seeks to seal the record of their criminal conviction, which in effect, makes it inaccessible from state or Federal storage. An expungement means your conviction is set aside, and you will legally be considered as not having been convicted at all.
This step helps people move on from that trying time of their life and try and change their lives for the better. If you are someone you know is interested in expunging a conviction, read on down below for the steps you need to take.
How to Get a Conviction Expunged
- Check your eligibility.
The first step to proceed with the expungement is to check if you are eligible for it. Confirm if you are trying to expunge a felony or a misdemeanor because some guidelines to follow will depend on which one it is.
- If you are trying to expunge a felony, make sure you are not convicted of more than one felony and not convicted of two misdemeanors, too.
- If it’s a misdemeanor you’re trying to expunge, make sure that you are not convicted of more than two misdemeanors and you don’t have any felony conviction.
In the state of Michigan, the following cannot be set aside for an expungement:
- A felony conviction with a life imprisonment punishment
- A felony conviction for domestic violence: This is if you have a prior misdemeanor conviction for the same offense, i.e., domestic violence.
- Traffic offenses which also includes vehicle operation while intoxicated
- Child abuse (second degree)
- A conviction for child abuse in front of another child
- Criminal sexual conduct:
- Third Degree or
- Assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct
- Fourth degree unless
- Convicted before January 12, 2015, AND
- Not convicted of more than two minor offenses. In this case, a minor offense means a misdemeanor or ordinance violation to which all of the following conditions apply:
- Note more than 90 days of imprisonment term
- Not more than $1,000 maximum permissible fine
- Not older than 21 years old during the time of conviction
- Offenses related to terrorism
- Possession or production of child pornography
- Human Trafficking: If you were convicted for a prostitution-related offense/offenses as a result of being a victim of human trafficking yourself, you are still eligible to get your conviction/s expunged.
You also need to check if enough time has passed since your conviction. You are not allowed to get your conviction expunged if it has only been less than five years since your sentencing date or release from probation, parole, or imprisonment for that conviction. The five-year waiting period begins from whichever occurred most recently in the mentioned situations.
Request for a hearing
Once you have confirmed that you are eligible to get your conviction expunged, the next thing you need to do is to set a hearing. Prepare the following documents to request for a hearing:
- Certified copy of conviction: This may be secured from the court that convicted you. Take note that there is a small fee for this document.
- Form MC 227: After obtaining a certified copy of conviction, you need to fill out MC 227 or the Application to Set Aside Conviction form. Once done, have your signature notarized and prepare five copies of the form plus the certified copy of conviction.
The next step is to send out the prepared documents (five copies) to the convicting court. They will mail back a copy to you while the rest of the remaining copies have to be mailed to the following:
- Michigan Attorney General
- Michigan State Police
- The county’s Prosecuting Attorney where the convicting court is
Take note that the fingerprint card plus the $50 check is to be mailed to the Michigan State Police during this time.
- To secure the fingerprints, you have to go to a police station and have your fingerprints taken for a small fee. Don’t forget to tell the police that you are trying to get your conviction expunged hence the need for prints. Make sure to bring identification too.
- A money order check for $50 made payable to the Michigan State Police has to be included in the same mail.
Once you’ve submitted the copies to the appropriate addresses (found in form MC 227), you have to fill out the proof of service located on the application. You can then submit it to the court with a copy of the form.
Prepare for the hearing
Your hearing date is usually set about two to three months from when the court receives a copy of all the needed documents. While waiting for your hearing date, you should prepare all your supporting documents to show that you are an upstanding citizen. Some things to take note of:
- For convictions involving an assaultive crime or a serious misdemeanor, the prosecuting attorney notifies the victim, and he/she has the right to appear at the hearing and make a written or oral statement.
- Bring four copies of Form MC 228 (Order on Application to Set Aside Conviction). Fill it out and have the judge sign it.
It’s essential to keep in mind that even if you are eligible for an expungement, it is not a guarantee that your conviction will be expunged. You must convince the judge on the reason why the conviction should not be part of your record.
Hire an experienced lawyer to get your conviction expunged!
The process of expungement can be overwhelming, which is why it is vital to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Lansing who can help you throughout the process. The Clark Law Office knows how devastating a conviction can be to anyone’s life. We value the act of moving on in life, and we will be glad to help you get that expungement with our over 40 years of experience in Michigan alone. You may call us at (517) 347-6900 to further discuss your case.