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The Ultimate Guide to Criminal Expungement in Northern Michigan

Have you ever made a mistake in your past that resulted in a criminal record? If so, you may be eligible for criminal expungement in the State of Michigan.

Expungement is the process of clearing or sealing a criminal record, which can open up new opportunities and a fresh start in life. This guide will walk you through the process of applying for criminal expungement in Northern Michigan, and provide tips on how to maximize your chances of success.

Expungement and Michigan Law

Expungement is a way to remove past criminal offenses from your record. Once a record is expunged, it is no longer accessible to the public, including potential employers and landlords. This can help individuals move forward with their lives without the stigma of a criminal record holding them back.

Beginning in 2021, the State of Michigan greatly expanded the eligibility and opportunity for expungement. These so called “Clean Slate” laws allow Traverse City and Northern Michigan residents to seek expungement for up to three felonies and unlimited misdemeanors, excluding certain assault or weapons offenses and felonies for which the sentence could include life in prison. Common offenses, such as first-time Operating While Impaired (OWI) or misdemeanor marijuana convictions, can now be expunged.

Eligibility for Expungement

In Michigan, the eligibility requirements for expungement vary depending on the type of criminal offense that you want removed from your record. However, the following criteria must generally be met:

  • Waiting Period: There is a waiting period before you can apply for expungement. For misdemeanor offenses, you must wait at least five years after completing your sentence, including probation or parole. For felony offenses, the waiting period is seven years. For certain offenses, such as traffic offenses, the waiting period is shorter.

  • Offense Limits: Michigan law does not set a limit on the number of misdemeanors that can be set aside by application unless the offense was an “assaultive offense.” Three felonies may be set aside by application unless one or more was an assaultive crime. Only two assaultive offenses total, whether misdemeanors or felonies, may be expunged in a person’s lifetime. An “assaultive offense” is generally one that causes injury to another person,

  • No Pending Charges: You must not have any pending charges or arrests at the time of applying for expungement.

  • Good Behavior: Although not necessarily required, Northern Michigan courts may want you to demonstrate that you have been of good moral character and have not been convicted of any other offenses during the waiting period. Working with an attorney can help you gather evidence to show good behavior and present that information to the court.

The Expungement Process

The process of applying for expungement in Michigan involves several steps:

  1. Obtain Your Criminal Record: We will obtain a copy of your criminal record from the Michigan State Police or the county where you were convicted and review your record to ensure accuracy.

  2. Complete the Application: An experienced attorney can help you complete the official expungement application, available thru the State of Michigan. The application requires a good amount of personal information, including details of your conviction, sentencing, and rehabilitation efforts.

  3. File the Petition: We assist you to file the completed petition with the court in the county where you were convicted. Filing fees may apply.

  4. Michigan State Police Report: After you file your application, the Michigan State Police completes a Criminal History Report which accompanies your application.

  5. Attorney General Response: The Office of the Attorney General is then given an opportunity to respond to your application, and their official response is sent to the court involved.

  6. Expungement Hearing: Your Expungement Hearing will be held at the court in which your conviction occurred. At the hearing, a judge will review your petition and decide whether to grant or deny your request. Be prepared to present evidence of your rehabilitation efforts and the positive impact expungement will have on your life.

  7. Follow-Up: If your petition is granted, we can help you follow up with the court to ensure that your record is sealed or cleared. You can then notify relevant agencies, such as the Michigan State Police and the FBI, of the expungement.

In Northern Michigan, the process of applying for an receiving an expungement generally takes approximately six to nine months.

Maximizing Your Chances of Success

At True North Legal Group, we have the experience necessary to help you with an expungement application. We give the same advice to many of our clients -- to maximize your chances of success, consider the following tips:

  • Maintain a Clean Record: During the waiting period, avoid any further run-ins with the law. Demonstrating good behavior and rehabilitation will strengthen your case for expungement.

  • Participate in Rehabilitation Programs: Participate in programs that demonstrate your commitment to rehabilitation, such as education, job training, or community service.

  • Seek Legal Advice: Consider seeking the advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the expungement process and represent you at the hearing.

  • Prepare for the Hearing: Prepare for the expungement hearing by gathering evidence of your rehabilitation efforts, such as letters of recommendation, certificates of completion, and proof of employment or education.

  • Be Honest: Be honest and forthcoming about your criminal history and your efforts to turn your life around. Demonstrating honesty and remorse can work in your favor.

Applying for criminal expungement in Northern Michigan can be a complex process, but with the right approach and preparation, you can increase your chances of success. By following the advice outlined in this guide and taking proactive steps in your personal life, you can take the first step towards a brighter future. Expungement can open up new opportunities and help you move forward with confidence. The team at True North Legal Group is here to help you succeed.