As a Flint criminal lawyer/criminal attorney I get several call per week from people with a past criminal record who are inquiring about how to set aside or remove or seal their record. These people have found out exactly how a criminal record can affect their lives as they suffer the long-term consequences for such a conviction. So, here is the rundown on how this process works in Michigan.
Expungement, or setting aside a criminal conviction, is a process that allows an individual who meets certain eligibility requirements to have that conviction expunged, or set aside or otherwise made non-public. If successful, this person could then truthfully answer "No," to any question that asks if they have ever been convicted of a criminal offense. The statute that governs this process is MCL 780.621.
Not everybody can pursue expungement. First, you may not pursue an Application to Set Aside Conviction if you have been convicted of more than one offense. (There are limited exceptions to this rule for more than one offense committed before age 21). Second, 5 years must have passed since the date of conviction or, if you were imprisoned, from the date of release from incarceration. Also, the law does not allow a person to set aside or expunge a conviction for any traffic offense or any offense that has a maximum sentence of life in prison. Also, with some exceptions, most sex offenses cannot be expunged.
After determining eligibility, an Application to Set Aside Conviction must be filed in the court where the conviction occured. A certified copy of the conviction record must be attached to the application. After filing and obtaining a hearing date, true copies of the application must be served on the prosecuting attorney, attorney general and the Michigan State Police. The MSP copy must also include a fingerprint card and the appropriate fee for a State and FBI record check to be completed. Once the Attorney General's office and state police have performed their records check each office will forward a letter to the court stating their position on the application. Then a hearing will be held and the judge will make a decision.
Although you may be eligible to pursue expungement, having this motion granted is not automatic. You are not entitled to seal this record. A judge could still say no. In any case, it would be wise to have the advantage of an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you with the steps in this process as it can get very confusing.