Michigan’s Changing Expungement Laws Mean Thousands Now Qualify for a Fresh Start

A criminal conviction—even for a minor offense—can have a dramatic impact on your life. Not only that, but by default, a conviction will stay on your record forever, unless you seek an expungement. Expungement is the legal process by which a court sets aside a conviction, making it outside the reach of the public record. While Michigan has had an expungement law on the books for quite some time, the law recently changed as of April 2021.

How Does Michigan’s New Expungement Law Work?

Recently, Michigan lawmakers made some significant changes to the state’s expungement laws, making the process available to more people than ever before. Under the new law, expungements are broken down into two categories: marijuana misdemeanor offenses and other misdemeanor and felony offenses.

Marijuana Misdemeanor Convictions

The process for expunging a misdemeanor offense involving possession of marijuana is the most straightforward. A person seeking an expungement for a qualifying offense must petition the court, providing all the necessary information. Once they file the expungement, the prosecutor then must choose whether to contest the application for expungement. If the prosecutor decides to contest the expungement, the court will hold a hearing. At the hearing, the prosecutor will argue why they believe expungement is not appropriate. However, if the prosecutor does not challenge the application within 60 days, the court will enter an order setting aside the conviction within 21 days. There is no waiting period to file for expungement based on a misdemeanor marijuana crime.

Other Misdemeanors and Felony Convictions

The rules for setting aside non-marijuana misdemeanors and felony convictions are a bit more complex. First, only certain offenses qualify for expungement. For example, the following are all excluded from the list of crimes for which expungement is available:

  • Any offense punishable by life in prison;
  • Any offense involving child sexually abusive material (child pornography);
  • Second-degree child sexual abuse;
  • Certain traffic offenses, including some DWI offenses;
  • Third-degree criminal sexual conduct; and
  • Certain domestic violence offenses where the defendant has a prior domestic violence conviction.

The waiting period to file for an expungement for a non-marijuana misdemeanor or felony conviction ranges between three to seven years. The waiting period starts once you complete your sentence, including probation. If you pick up a new arrest during the waiting period, it will not disqualify you; however, you will be disqualified if you are convicted of a new crime.

Are You Seeking to Expunge Your Record?

While the new Michigan expungement laws make it easier to clear your record, the process is still complex. And prosecutors may contest your application, making the process even more difficult. At Michigan Defense Law, we handle all types of expungement petitions on behalf of clients hoping to get a fresh start. We are familiar with the new and evolving laws and can effectively help you prepare your petition with supporting information as to why an expungement is justified. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our Michigan criminal defense lawyers, call 248-451-2200 today.

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