Rules of Expungement: New Changes to Michigan Law

Expungement allows a person charged with a crime to get a clean slate. However, Michigan is changing the expunction process which could affect many people in the criminal justice system. Keep reading for more information.

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is a process by which a person convicted of a crime has that crime removed from their criminal record. In Michigan, individuals convicted of most state criminal offenses can pursue expungement and clear their name if they meet specific qualifications. While the state allows most crimes to be expunged, some crimes do not qualify. Murder, sex crimes, traffic offenses, and capital crimes cannot be expunged.

When a person petitions for expungement, they can potentially have the crime removed from their public criminal record. This means that the general public cannot see that they were ever accused of a crime and the information stays within the justice system. Employers cannot access expunged crimes either which allows many people charged with a crime to get the jobs they want.

Why the Rules are Changing

In 2021, expungement cases rose exponentially. As a result, Michigan legislators expanded the existing expungement laws with the Clean Slate Act which increases the number of offenses that can be expunged and establishes a framework for automatic expungement.

The Clean Slate Act makes the expungement process more efficient and helps the Attorney General’s office to keep up with demand. The Attorney General is responsible for determining whether an applicant for expungement is statutorily eligible to have their convictions removed from the record. Currently, the wait time for a decision from the Attorney General’s office is around six months and notices of hearing dates are already scheduled at least six months in advance. So, it could still take a year to be approved for expungement.

New Laws

The new laws applying to expungement are as follows:

  • The waiting time required for expungement is reduced
  • Some traffic offenses now qualify
  • The number of eligible convictions has been expanded to include up to three felonies and unlimited misdemeanors
  • There is a “one bad night” provision that combines separate but related offenses for efficiency purposes
  • Misdemeanor marijuana convictions now qualify for expungement with no statutory waiting period
  • There is an automatic expungement mandate that will allow certain criminal offenses to be expunged without an application
  • First time operating while intoxicated (OWI) offenses are now eligible for expungement

Opening the law to those accused of these crimes will allow more people to qualify for expungement. In fact, the legislature anticipates that the new laws will allow thousands of convicted people to qualify for expunction and a second chance.

Expunging a Misdemeanor or Felony in Michigan

If you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, you may qualify for expungement. While not explicitly necessary, it is highly recommended that you get an attorney to assist you with the application process. An attorney can help you understand the complex legal jargon and work with you to create a petition. The court will not accept petitions that do not meet their exact specifications.

If your petition is denied, you must wait at least three years before you are eligible to file a petition again. The stakes are extremely high when applying for expungement, so it is better to get the help of an experienced attorney to ensure that you have a strong petition.

Have you been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? White Law PLLC can help. Schedule your free case evaluation with our legal team today.