Setting Aside a Juvenile Adjudication

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If you are convicted of a crime as a minor it is called a juvenile adjudication. Setting aside an adjudication clears your juvenile public record. It is sometimes called expungement. This article gives an overview of the process for setting aside a juvenile adjudication. To learn about setting aside an adult conviction, visit Expunging (Setting Aside) Adult Criminal Convictions.

The Benefits of a Clean Record

You may want to have an adjudication set aside if you are looking for a new job or a professional license. A juvenile adjudication is not a criminal conviction, but employers and licensing boards may hold an adjudication against you or use it to disqualify you.

If you get your adjudication set aside, you can legally say you have not been convicted of or arrested for that crime on a job or school application. You can also say you have not been convicted of that crime on an application for public benefits or housing.

If your adjudication is set aside, it does not appear in a typical background check. The courts and the Michigan State Police (MSP) keep a nonpublic, confidential copy of your adjudication record. Some employers, such as law enforcement agencies, may still be able to see adjudications that have been set aside. An adjudication that has been set aside can be used during sentencing if you are later convicted of another crime.

Am I Eligible to Set Aside a Juvenile Adjudication?

To have a juvenile adjudication set aside, you must meet certain conditions related to all of the following:

  • The waiting period

  • The number of adjudications you have had

  • The type of offense

If you meet these conditions, you can apply to have your adjudications set aside. A judge will decide if your adjudication will be set aside.

The Waiting Period

There is a waiting period before you are allowed to file your application. It must be at least one year from the time the court loses power over you before you file. This is also known as “termination of the court’s jurisdiction.” Jurisdiction means power over a person or legal matter. Here are some examples of when you would be eligible to apply based on the end of the court’s power in the case:

  • Your case closed at least one year ago

  • You finished your probation at least one year ago

  • You  turned 19 years old

The Number of Adjudications

You can apply to have up to three adjudications set aside. Only one of them can be an offense that would be a felony if an adult had done it. If you have more than three juvenile adjudications, or more than one felony adjudication, none of them can be set aside.

Counting adjudications

Adjudications for more than one offense that happened within 12 hours and show a single intent or goal might be counted as one offense. To count as one offense, none of the offenses can be an assaultive offense, involve the use or possession of a weapon, or carry a possible punishment of more than 10 years in prison.

You can read this list to see if any of your adjudications were for an assaultive offense.

If you have adjudications in more than one court, the process is more complicated. You may want to talk to a lawyer about getting your adjudications set aside. If you need a lawyer and have low income, you may qualify for free legal help. Whether you have low income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to look for legal help in your area.

The Type of Offense

You can’t apply to have an adjudication set aside if it was a felony that would be punishable by life in prison for an adult, or if you’ve been convicted of a felony as an adult.

How to Get a Copy of your Record

Before you can apply to set aside a juvenile adjudication, you need to know your criminal history. Go to the court where you were adjudicated and order a certified record of your adjudication. There will be a cost for this. You can call the court beforehand to ask about the exact cost. You will use information on the record to complete your application. You will also file the record as part of your application.

Applying to Set Aside an Adjudication

Start the process by filing an Application to Set Aside Adjudication with the court where you were adjudicated. You can use the Do-It-Yourself Expungement (Juvenile Adjudication) tool to fill out the forms you need.

If you participated in the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy and got a certificate of completion, send in your certificate with your application. The certificate will show the judge that your circumstances and behavior support your application.

You need to go to a local law enforcement agency for a fingerprint card. Tell them you need your fingerprints taken on an applicant card (RI-008). There may be a fee for fingerprinting. If there is it will probably be between $10 and $25. Fill out the cards completely. The Michigan State Police will use this fingerprint card to check your records against its files, and then forward the second set to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) for it to do the same.

Finally, you must send a copy of your application to the Michigan State Police, the Attorney General, and the prosecutor who handled your adjudication. Send the fingerprints to the Michigan State Police with the application. To read step-by-step instructions, go to Expunging (Setting Aside) Juvenile Adjudications.

Going to Court

After you file your application, the court clerk will schedule a hearing where a judge will decide whether to set aside your adjudication. You must attend this hearing. During your hearing, the judge will decide these two things:

  • Whether your circumstances and behavior support your application

  • Whether it is in the public's best interest to set aside your adjudication(s)

You can help your case if you can do some of the following:

  • Show you haven’t been involved in criminal activity since your adjudication

  • Testify you want your record clean for some specific reason, such as getting a professional license

  • Bring letters of recommendation from employers, churches, or community organizations

  • Bring proof of rehabilitation, such as from a substance abuse program

  • Bring letters of support from family or friends

  • Bring witnesses to support you

Law enforcement officials and the victims of your crime may testify at the hearing. They can support your application or object to it. To learn more about going to court read What to Expect When You Go to Court.

After Court

If the judge agrees that your adjudication should be set aside, they will enter an order setting aside your adjudication. You must send copies of it to the Michigan State Police.

If your adjudication is set aside, you will not have to disclose it to potential employers.