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Common Questions about Setting Aside Adult Convictions (Expungements)


    This is a list of common questions about setting aside adult convictions (expungements).

    Questions about Setting Aside Adult Convictions

    What does it mean to set aside a conviction?

    Setting aside a conviction (sometimes called getting an expungement) will remove a specific conviction from your public criminal record. If you get an order setting aside your conviction, you can legally state on any job or school application that you have never been convicted of or arrested for that crime. You will also be able to state on any applications for public benefits, housing, or employment that you have not been convicted of that crime.

    The court system and the Michigan State Police (MSP) will maintain a nonpublic record of your conviction. This means that the court and MSP will know of any convictions you set aside, should you apply to have another conviction set aside in the future. A conviction that has been set aside can also be used as a factor in your sentencing if you are convicted of another crime in the future.

    What is a conviction?

    A conviction is any misdemeanor or felony charge for which you were found guilty. You could have been found guilty by a judge or jury, or you might have signed a plea agreement stating that you were guilty of a crime.

    How can I search my criminal records?

    Michigan criminal records can be searched online for a $10 fee. You can find your record by using the Internet Criminal History Access Tool at Michigan’s ICHAT webpage. Review the record carefully. If there are any errors on your record, see the Common Question, “What if there is incorrect information on my criminal record?

    If you need to review your criminal history in other states, you can get a report from the FBI’s Criminal Background Check website. You will need to submit a copy of your fingerprints and the cost is $18.

    Are there some convictions that cannot be set aside?

    Yes, certain convictions cannot be set aside. Convictions for the following offenses cannot be set aside:

    • A violation, or an attempted violation, of engaging in child sexually abusive activity or producing, distributing, or possessing child sexually abusive material, MCL 750.145c
    • A violation, or an attempted violation, of using a computer to solicit a minor, MCL 750.145d
    • A violation, or an attempted violation, of first degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC), second degree CSC, or third degree CSC, MCL 750.520b, 750.520c, or 750.520d
    • A violation, or an attempted violation, of an assault with the intent to commit CSC involving penetration, MCL 750.520g
    • A violation, or an attempted violation, of first or second degree child abuse, MCL 750.136(b)(2) or 750.136(b)(3)
    • A violation, or an attempted violation, of child abuse in the presence of another child, MCL 750.136d(1)(b) or 750.136d(1)(c)
    • A traffic offense, including Operating While Intoxicated
    • A felony conviction for domestic violence when you have a previous misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence
    • A violation of human trafficking, MCL 750.462A to 750.462J and 750.543A to 750.543Z
    • Any felony offense that is punishable by life in prison (even if your actual sentence was shorter)
    • A conviction for fourth degree CSC, MCL 750.520e, on or after 01/12/15 cannot be set aside. (Any fourth degree CSC convictions prior to 01/12/15 can be set aside so long as you have no other convictions, other than up to two minor offenses.)
    What is a Minor Offense?

    A minor offense is a misdemeanor or ordinance violation for which the maximum imprisonment does not exceed 90 days, the maximum fine does not exceed $1,000, and is committed by a person who is 21 or younger.

    How long do I have to wait before I can ask the court to set aside a conviction?

    You must wait at least five years after whichever of the following events happens last:

    • The date you were convicted
    • The date you completed probation
    • The date you were discharged from parole, OR
    • The date you were released from prison.

    Not all of these events may apply to your situation. You might not have been in prison, or you might not have been placed on probation or paroled. Whichever of these events do apply to you, you must wait five years after the last event happens before you can file your application. 

    These don’t apply to certain convictions that happened while you were a victim of human trafficking.

    How do I get a conviction set aside?

    You should first see if you are eligible to apply. Read the article Setting Aside an Adult Conviction  for more details.

    If you are eligible and waited the required time, get your fingerprints and a certified copy of your record of conviction. Use the online interview to complete the Application to Set Aside Conviction forms. File the application with the court where you were convicted. After filing, you will need to send copies of the application to the Michigan State Police, the State Attorney General, and the prosecutor’s office that tried your case.

    You will need to attend a hearing to convince the judge that your conviction should be set aside. If you succeed, you will need to verify with the Michigan State Police and Department of Corrections that your record has been made nonpublic.

    What does it cost to set aside a conviction?

    It can cost about $100 to get a conviction set aside. There is no fee to file the Application to Set Aside Conviction, but there are other fees for getting fingerprinted and for getting copies of records and documents you will need to file with the Application.

    What happens after my conviction is set aside?

    If the judge orders your conviction to be set aside, the court will send a copy of the Order On Application to Set Aside Conviction to the Michigan State Police. The State Police will then remove the conviction from your record on ICHAT. You can check after about a month to verify that your record appears clear.

    The Michigan Department of Corrections Offender Tracking and Information System (OTIS) keeps a separate record of your conviction if you were sentenced to imprisonment. To clear this record, you need to send a copy of the signed order to

    Michigan Department of Corrections
    206 E. Michigan Ave.
    Grandview Plaza
    PO Box 30003
    Lansing, MI 48909
    Who was the prosecutor in my criminal case?

    You can find out who was the prosecuting official in your criminal case on your record of conviction or on your original court paperwork. To find the address of the prosecutor see the Michigan Prosecuting Attorney Office Directory. Or, while you are at the court, you can ask the court clerk how to get the correct prosecuting official’s address (county, city, or township). You will need this address to send a copy of your Application to Set Aside Conviction to the prosecutor.

    Where do I file my Application?

    You must file your Application with the court clerk where you were convicted even if you have moved away from that city or county. The Application is a part of the original criminal case and remains in the same court file.

    Do I have to go to court?

    Yes. You will have to file your Application to Set Aside Conviction with the court. You will have a court hearing to explain to the judge why your conviction should be set aside. If you qualify to have your conviction set aside, the judge still has to decide whether to set aside your conviction or not. You will need to prove to the judge that your circumstances and behavior justify setting aside the conviction and that setting aside your conviction is good for the general public.

    How long before my conviction is set aside?

    From the beginning of the process, it could take about 6 months or more to gather your records, have a hearing, and have your conviction set aside.

    It typically takes a month after the judge issues the order to set aside your conviction for your record to be made nonpublic and removed from the Michigan State Police ICHAT system. The Department of Corrections keeps separate records of convictions, and you will also have to send a copy of the signed order to it to have it remove this record of your conviction.

    Are there any other ways I can clear my record?

    If you want to clear your conviction history but are not eligible to set aside the conviction, you can ask the governor for a pardon. See information from the Michigan Department of Correction’s Pardon After Probation, Parole or Discharge Application webpage.

    What if there is incorrect information on my criminal record?

    Sometimes there is incorrect information in the ICHAT system, such as the wrong conviction or date because of a clerical or typing error. To correct this, get a certified copy of the judgment of sentence from the court that sentenced you. Send it to the Michigan State Police with a brief letter explaining the mistake and ask that the errors be corrected.

    What if I was a victim of human trafficking?

    If you were convicted of certain prostitution offenses you committed because you were a victim of human trafficking, you may be eligible to have those convictions set aside. Special rules allow you to set aside more than one of these convictions, and you don’t have to wait for five years. You may want to contact a lawyer in your area to help you with this by using the Find a Lawyer section of Michigan Legal Help. If you are low income, your local legal aid program may be able to help you free of charge.