When a person is convicted of a criminal charge and serves the required sentence, he/she can become eligible to petition the court to expunge the conviction from his/her criminal record. The effect of a Washtenaw county court order setting aside a conviction is that the conviction no longer exists on the defendant's record. It is as though the conviction were never entered. Obtaining an expungement is essentially the same as never being convicted of the charge.
In Washtenaw County, the state rules that govern expungements throughout the state apply to all people in this county that want to have a prior conviction set aside or expunged. The rules set forth in Michigan Compiled Laws 780.621 indicate when and how an expungement may be obtained in court. Failure to follow all of the requirements will result in a failed attempt at obtaining an expungement of your criminal conviction. A skilled defense attorney will understand the process and know how to properly guide you through a successful expungement petition.
Generally, a person who is convicted of only 1 criminal offense may file an application with the convicting court for the entry of an order setting aside the conviction. A person who has no more than 2 minor offense convictions may also be eligible to have the more serious conviction expunged. A "minor offense" is considered to be a misdemeanor or ordinance violation for which the maximum permissible imprisonment does not exceed 90 days and the maximum permissible fine does not exceed $1,000.00, and that is committed by a person who is less than 21 years of age. This normally includes Minor in Possession of Alcohol charges and Possession of Cigarettes charges committed by minors. It may also include other minor charges depending on the nature and seriousness of the charge.
A person convicted of a felony crime that is punishable by up to life imprisonment or an attempt to commit a felony for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment cannot have his/her conviction expunged. The legislature in Michigan has eliminated the possibility for convicted murderers and serious felony offenders to have their convictions set aside.
In addition, a person convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree, Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree, Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fourth Degree, Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration, and Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Contact or an attempt to commit one of these offenses is ineligible to have a conviction for one of these offenses expunged from his/her record.
Finally, a person conviction of any type of traffic offense, including Operating While Intoxicated, Impaired Driving, Driving While License Suspended, and Fleeing and Eluding Police is ineligible to have his/her conviction expunged.
A person who wants to have a conviction set aside or expunged must file an application no earlier than 5 years following imposition of the sentence for the conviction or 5 years following completion of any term of imprisonment for that conviction, whichever occurs later. There must be no other pending criminal cases while the petition for the expungement is pending. An official set of the defendant's fingerprints have to be submitted with the petition and reviewed by the Michigan Attorney General's office to verify the person's criminal record. If the conviction was for an assaultive crime or a serious misdemeanor, the prosecuting attorney will be required to notify the victim of that crime to allow him/her to provide a written or verbal statement to the Judge about the petition for the Expungement.
If the court determines that the circumstances and behavior of the applicant from the date of the applicant's conviction to the filing of the application warrant setting aside the conviction and that setting aside the conviction is consistent with the public welfare, the court may enter an order setting aside the conviction. The setting aside of a conviction under this act is a privilege and conditional and is not a right.
It is important to realize when considering an Expungement that you will only have one opportunity to get your criminal conviction set aside and removed from your record. Because an order of expungement permanently removes the conviction from your record, Judges are sometimes very reluctant to set aside serious felony convictions that otherwise qualify for expungement. Prosecuting attorneys may also take a very hard-line position against the defendant who is seeking the expungement. There are no guarantees that you will obtain an Expungement by filing the correct paperwork. Working with a skilled defense attorney that is accustomed to advocating for his clients in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court is your best chance of obtaining successfully results.