Interviewer: If someone has a prior conviction record, how easy is it for someone to get their record sealed or expunged?
Paul Tafelski: In Michigan, the expungement laws are pretty difficult. In general, you can only have one count of one felony crime on your record and no more than two misdemeanors. Then five years after your discharge from jail or probation, you’re eligible to try and get it expunged. There are some crimes such as some criminal sexual conduct crimes or murder, a few very serious crimes and drunk driving as well, that you cannot ever get expunged. If you’re eligible you’d be very smart to try and get your record expunged because if you ever get in trouble again, even an additional misdemeanor on your record can make you ineligible. I’m finding more and more calls from people everyday wanting to clear their record.
With the advancement of computers, stuff that’s even 20 – 25 years old is popping up on background checks now and stopping people from gaining employment. Anyone who is eligible should try to take advantage of it. Michigan recently expanded the eligibility requirements for expungements and many people are now eligible that previously were not. People with one felony and no more than two misdemeanors are generally eligible. People with two misdemeanors are now eligible to have one or both expunged (if the particular misdemeanor is allowed to be expunged).
For a long time, Michigan’s expungement requirements were extremely limited. People with one felony, and one or two misdemeanors, were previously ineligible except under extremely limited circumstances. Now the restrictions on disqualifying convictions are much more relaxed. For example, before the new 2015 law took effect, someone with a felony conviction for embezzlement and a misdemeanor drunk driving conviction could not have the felony expunged. Now, although the drunk driving conviction itself cannot be expunged, you can ask the court for an expungement of the felony conviction. This is a huge change. It took many years for the legislature to expand these requirements and I would highly recommend people explore whether they may now qualify.