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Setting Aside an Adult Conviction in Michigan


    Setting aside a conviction is the process that clears your public criminal record. This is sometimes called an “expungement.” In Michigan, there is one process to set aside a conviction on your adult record and a different process to set aside a juvenile conviction, called an adjudication. This article gives an overview of setting aside an adult conviction. To learn more about setting aside a juvenile adjudication, read Setting Aside a Juvenile Adjudication.

    The Benefits of a Clean Record

    You may want to have a conviction set aside if you are looking for a new job or a professional license. Many employers and licensing boards will hold a conviction against you or use it to disqualify you. If your conviction is set aside, most employers will not be able to see it with a background check. The Michigan State Police will still keep a nonpublic record of a conviction that has been set aside. Some employers, such as those in law enforcement, may still be able to see convictions that have been set aside.

    Are You Eligible to Set Aside a Conviction?

    There are many limits to setting aside a conviction, such as the number of convictions you have, the type of conviction, and when you were convicted. The easiest way to find out if you qualify is to use the Do-It-Yourself Expungement (Adult Conviction) tool. Even if you meet all the requirements, you will still have to go to court. A judge will decide whether to set aside your conviction– it is not automatic. 

    The Number of Convictions

    To have a conviction set aside in Michigan, you must have limited convictions on your record. If you have only one felony conviction, and two or fewer misdemeanors, you can ask a judge to set aside your felony conviction. If you have two or fewer misdemeanor convictions, and no felony convictions, you can ask to have one or both of your misdemeanors set aside.

    If you have any convictions, whether they were for felonies or misdemeanors, that were deferred and dismissed, they will count as misdemeanor convictions when determining if you are eligible to set aside a conviction. You must list these in your application, which is a public record of the court.

    The Type of Conviction

    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.)

    The Waiting Period

    There is a waiting period before you can file your application. You must wait at least five years after your last interaction with law enforcement for the conviction before you can apply. That means at least five years must have passed since:

    • 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. 

    If you applied to set aside the same conviction before, and you were denied, you must wait three years from the date of denial to apply again. However, a judge can allow you to apply sooner than the three year period.

    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 Guide to Legal Help. If you are low income, your local legal aid program may be able to help you free of charge.

    Get a Copy of Your Record

    If you have questions about your record, use Michigan’s Internet Criminal History Access Tool to get a copy of your criminal history. You can download it from ICHAT for $10.

    You can use the Do-It-Yourself Expungement (Adult Conviction) tool to see if you are eligible to apply to get your conviction set aside. If you are, the tool will complete your application.

    The Process of Setting Aside a Conviction

    There are many steps to setting aside your conviction. First, you need to file an application to set aside conviction with the court where you were convicted. Then, you need to get fingerprinted and order a certified copy of your order of conviction. Once you have those documents, you will send them, along with a copy of your application and a $50 check or money order (made out to the State of Michigan) to the Michigan State Police. Finally, you need to notify the Michigan State Police, the Attorney General, and the prosecutor who handled your conviction by sending them each a copy of your application. You can find detailed instructions in the Setting Aside an Adult Conviction Toolkit.

    Once you’ve applied, you will have to attend a hearing where you explain to a judge why your conviction should be set aside. It helps if you can testify that that you haven’t been involved in criminal activity since your conviction. It also helps if you can testify that you want your record clean for some specific reason, like getting a professional license. Law enforcement officials and the victims of your crime may testify at the hearing to support your application or to object to it. You may also bring witnesses to testify in support of your application.

    If the judge agrees that your conviction should be set aside, an order to set aside conviction will be entered with the court. You will need to send copies of it to the Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Corrections, and anyone else keeping a record of your convictions. Then check your criminal background to make sure the conviction doesn’t appear. If the conviction is set aside, you will not have to disclose it to potential employers.

    Other Options

    If you do not qualify to set aside your conviction or the judge did not order your conviction to be set aside, read the Common Questions for other options that may be available to you.