A criminal conviction can hurt a person’s ability to obtain school loans, get accepted into some school programs, advance in a career, and obtain licensing for some employment areas. Many are embarrassed by a prior criminal conviction, and worry how it will effect their reputation, and if their past will affect their family.
For offenses in which a conviction has already been entered, the options are expungement (if eligible), or a pardon (which is extremely rare).
In 2020 Michigan reformed its laws concerning expungements to streamline the process, and to help more persons clear their records. Part of the reforms include an automatic record-clearing law that expunges many misdemeanors after 7 years, and many felonies after 10 years of serving a sentence related to the offense. Crimes that are deemed ineligible for automatic expungement include assaultive crimes, “serious misdemeanors”, “crimes of dishonesty”, offenses that carry a maximum punishment of 10 or more years in prison, crimes involving a minor, crimes involving vulnerable adults, crimes involving injury or serious impairment, crimes involving death, and human trafficking. The automatic expungement provisions are not expected to be implemented until 2022 or 2023.
Applicants who do not want to wait for the automatic expungement provisions to take place, or for some offenses for which automatic expungement does not apply, can petition the court that originally sentenced the applicant for an expungement. Even with reforms, there are several offenses for which expungements are not allowed: life maximum offenses; attempt to commit a life maximum offense; child abuse; most cases involving criminal sexual conduct; felony domestic violence (if the person had a prior misdemeanor domestic violence conviction); driving while impaired/intoxicated; and traffic offenses involving injury or death.
Up to 3 eligible felonies and an unlimited number of eligible misdemeanors can be expunged based upon the reforms adopted by Michigan government in 2020. Furthermore, multiple felonies or misdemeanors arising from the same 24 hour period will be counted as only 1 conviction for expungement purposes, unless any of the offenses are assaultive, involve the use or possession of a dangerous weapon, or carry a maximum penalty of more than 10 years in prison. The length of time to wait for an expungement will range from 3 to 7 years from when the original case closes, depending upon the nature of the conviction.