Expungement Lawyers in Michigan

The Michigan Expungement Lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. can help you get a fresh start. Don’t trust your fate to the lowest bidder.

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Michigan Expungement Attorney

Is your criminal record holding you back? Are you having difficulty advancing in your career or getting a job? Is a prior error in judgment standing in the way of a professional license? Do you want a clean criminal history? Your best hope of getting a clean record is with an expungement lawyer in Michigan.

“Everyone makes mistakes in life, but that does not mean they have to pay for them for the rest of their life. Sometimes good people make bad choices; it does not mean they are bad, it only means they are human.”

The law firm of LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has successfully represented clients throughout Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, and throughout Michigan. They will do whatever it takes to help clients clear their criminal records. We can use our decades of experience to help wipe out your criminal history. You may have had a lapse in judgment many years ago, or maybe you were wrongfully convicted of a crime. A skillful lawyer can clear your record with an Application to Set Aside a Conviction or Motion for Expungement.

Whatever your particular situation, we will consult with you free of charge and determine whether you may qualify for an expungement. In Michigan, an expungement is also known as a Motion to Set Aside a Conviction. We can then guide you through this process for a felony or misdemeanor and, if you are eligible, help you clear your criminal history as quickly as possible. When many people represent themselves or hire a bargain lawyer, the result can be unnecessarily devastating. You may only get one chance to request an expungement, and we can ensure it is done right the first time.

A Fresh Start Without a Criminal Record

Setting aside a felony or misdemeanor conviction can result in better or new employment, housing, restoration of voting rights, and financial opportunities. Imagine the relief when your prior conviction is set aside, and you can move forward in life with no criminal record. You will have peace of mind knowing they can truthfully and legally answer “no” when asked whether they have any criminal convictions. If you want to learn more about felony or misdemeanor expungement and how LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. can help you with that process, contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Unpaid restitution does not prevent a judge from setting aside a conviction; however, the defendant will still be responsible for paying outstanding restitution.

Clean Slate Expungement Laws

On October 12, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed seven bills into law, expanding the number and types of expungeable offenses. To determine if your prior convictions can be set aside, you need to call us for a free consultation. The law provides many exceptions and limitations, and we will need to hear from you to determine your specific eligibility. The expungement lawyers in Michigan with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have vast experience winning motions to set aside felony and misdemeanor convictions. The fundamental provisions of the Clean Slate Laws are as follows:

  • Up to three (3) Michigan felony offenses and an unlimited number of misdemeanors can be expunged through the application process (an Application to Set Aside Conviction can be filed before that date; however, the hearing before the judge cannot occur until that time).
  • If applying for expungement, no more than two assaultive crimes can be expungeable. No more than one felony conviction for the same offense if the offense is punishable by more than ten (10) years imprisonment.
  • Assaultive crimes include:
    • Threats, assaults, and batteries against Family Independence Agency employees,
    • Any felony or misdemeanor assault of any type,
    • Carjacking and Robbery,
    • Offenses involving explosives, harmful chemicals, biological substances, radioactive material, electronic or electromagnetic devices, offensive or injurious substances or compounds, combustible substances,
    • Offenses related to terrorism,
    • Murder, Homicide, Assault with Intent to Murder, and Mayhem,
    • Kidnapping, Unlawful Imprisonment, or taking an adult or child hostage, Stalking,
    • Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC), Molestation, Child Abuse, and Rape,
    • A crime resulting in miscarriage, stillbirth, or death, or harm to an embryo or fetus,
    • Home Invasion, and
    • Felonious Discharge of a Firearm.
  • The waiting period is three (3) years for many misdemeanors, five (5) years for a serious misdemeanor or up to one felony, and seven (7) years for multiple felony convictions (it was five (5) years for all offenses under the old expungement law).
  • Traffic convictions other than a second or subsequent OWI/DUI (a first offense DUI or OWI can be expunged), traffic crimes that resulted in death or injury, or traffic offenses involving a commercial vehicle’s operation can be set aside under the Clean Slate Laws.
  • Crimes that aren’t eligible for expungement include:
    • life felonies or attempted life felonies,
    • felony domestic violence with a previous misdemeanor domestic violence conviction,
    • second-degree child abuse,
    • child abuse in the presence of another child,
    • most criminal sexual conduct offenses (CSC) (some exceptions for CSC 4th),
    • child sexually abusive material or activity offenses,
    • second or subsequent OWI/DUI (drunk or drug-related traffic offenses),
    • crimes committed during the operation of a commercial vehicle,
    • traffic offenses causing injury or death,
    • permitting a 16-year-old or younger female to be in a house of prostitution,
    • holding an individual in debt bondage,
    • certain offenses involving the use of a computer or the Internet,
    • any offense directly or indirectly related to human trafficking for forced labor,
    • or any offense related to terrorism.
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First Offense Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) Expungement

In 2021, Michigan adopted expungement for first offense Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) convictions. The law applies to first offense OWI, DUI, OWVI, OWPD, and Zero Tolerance convictions. The applicant must wait five (5) years from the sentencing date or release from jail, whichever comes last. In addition to the ordinary proofs for expungement, an applicant must prove they’ve benefitted from rehabilitative or educational programs and whether they voluntarily availed themselves of such programs before sentencing. The conviction will remain on the applicant’s driving record if the judge grants OWI expungement.

Marijuana Conviction Expungements

There is a streamlined process for expunging marijuana possession convictions, including no waiting period (if filed on or after April 21, 2021). The process is more straightforward for misdemeanor marijuana convictions. Once filed, the prosecutor has 60 days to consider the application and determine if there is a legal basis to object. The judge must grant the application to set aside the marijuana possession conviction if the prosecutor does not object.

Some of the key differences with marijuana expungement are that the application need not:

  • wait any particular period before filing an application
  • get fingerprinted or obtain a criminal history report from MSP
  • have a notary sign the application
  • serve the Michigan State Police or the Attorney General’s office
  • show up in court for a hearing (unless the prosecutor objects to setting aside the conviction)
  • prove they are worthy of expungement or that it is in the community’s best interest.

One Bad Night Provision (Expungement Lawyers in Michigan Have Expertise with Advocating this Provision)

Multiple felonies or misdemeanors that arise within the same 24-hour period and arising out of the same transaction count as one conviction for expungement, except:

  • assaultive crimes,
  • offenses involving the use or possession of a dangerous weapon, or
  • crimes that carry a maximum penalty of 10 or more years in prison.

The attorney general, prosecutor, and judge will not assist a defendant in proving that multiple offenses qualify for the “one bad night” provision. The defendant must prove in court that this provision is applicable and they are eligible for relief.

Nuances to the Clean Slate Laws You Need to Know

  • If a judge expunges a criminal sexual conduct conviction, the defendant is no longer “convicted” for the Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act’s purposes.
  • An expunged conviction can still enhance the maximum possible punishment for a post-expungement felony conviction under Michigan’s habitual offender laws, MCL 769.10 et seq.
  • The expunged conviction will be part of a nonpublic record that is available to the governor, law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts for a variety of purposes, including pardon decisions, employment with MDOC or law enforcement, plea bargaining, licensing through the judicial branch of government, sentencing for either a felony or misdemeanor punishable by more than one year of imprisonment and consideration of future set-aside applications.
  • The “same transaction within 24-hours rule” applies to non-automatic expungement and expungement under the special marijuana provisions of the Clean Slate Laws.

After Expungement, the Conviction Never Occurred

Under Michigan law, upon entry of an order setting aside a conviction or following an automatic expungement, it is as if the person was not previously convicted. In other words, when asked whether they have a previous conviction, the answer is “no.” There are a few exceptions, including the following:

  • the applicant is not entitled to a refund of fines and costs
  • anyone with an expunged sex offense must still register under SORA
  • setting aside a conviction does not relieve the applicant of their obligation to pay restitution
  • an expunged conviction can still be used to enhance a sentence under Michigan’s habitual offender statute
  • an expunged conviction can still be considered relative to a licensing function of the judicial branch of state government
  • consideration at sentencing for a subsequent felony conviction
  • consideration by the Governor of Michigan relative to a request for pardon on another conviction
  • consideration by a prosecutor or judge relative to charging, plea offers, and sentencing for a subsequent criminal charges

How Expungement Lawyers in Michigan Win

Michigan law provides that a person may apply for a conviction set aside if certain conditions are satisfied. A court may set aside a conviction if (1) the circumstances and behavior of the applicant since the date of the conviction warrant the requested relief and (2) the setting aside of the conviction is consistent with the public welfare. Most expungement lawyers in Michigan fail to grasp the concept of arguing that setting aside a conviction is in society’s best interest. To win, you must make a persuasive and credible argument that setting aside the conviction is in the public welfare. Failure to properly make this argument will result in the denial of your motion to set aside the conviction. If the judge denies your motion, you cannot file again for three (3) years. Top lawyers know how expungement works in Michigan.

Michigan cases have held that the analysis and consideration of an expungement motion request should be based solely on the defendant’s circumstances and behavior and not solely upon other factors outlined in the statute. The Michigan Court of Appeals has interpreted the statute as establishing a balancing test between a defendant’s “circumstances and behavior” after the conviction and the “public welfare.” Finally, courts have ruled that the expungement statute should be liberally construed to favor its remedial policy.

People often lose in court when they represent themselves or hire an inferior attorney. The conviction remains on their record, preventing them from obtaining meaningful employment or promotions at work. When deciding on the caliber of a lawyer to hire for an expungement motion, it is helpful to consider the cost of losing. What is the cost of three years of lost opportunity if you lose? When considering the value of clearing your criminal history, the importance of hiring an experienced, successful lawyer becomes clear.

There is hope even if you’re not eligible for an expungement.

What if you have one or more offenses that are not eligible for expungement? Clients who have too many convictions are in a difficult situation. We have handled many cases for clients ineligible for relief and successfully cleared their records. A post-conviction motion would have to be filed on one or more of their prior offenses to either get them dismissed, reduced, or changed to make the client eligible for an expungement. This process can be an uphill battle and often requires the prosecutor’s capitulation.

Automatic Expungement

A maximum of up to 2 felony convictions and up to 4 misdemeanors will be subject to automatic expungement, with various exceptions, including:

  • an assaultive crime,
  • serious misdemeanors,
  • a crime resulting in injury, serious impairment of a body function, or death,
  • a crime of dishonesty,
  • a felony punishable by 10 or more years,
  • a crime against a child or vulnerable adult, or
  • a crime related to human trafficking.

For an offense to be eligible for automatic expungement, there must be no contact with the criminal justice system for seven (7) years from the imposition of sentence for a misdemeanor and 10 years from the conclusion of probation or incarceration, whichever is later, for a felony. The applicant must not have been convicted of more than one assaultive crime (more than one assaultive conviction bars automatic expungement of any conviction).

According to an April 26, 2023, article in the Detroit News by Beth LeBlanc, automatic expungement does not result in federal firearms rights restoration.

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Attorneys with an Unparalleled Track Record of Success

If you have one or more convictions and want a fresh start with no criminal history, please call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. today for a free consultation and confidential case evaluation. Our expungement lawyers have decades of experience winning these motions in Michigan. Do not hesitate to call our Expungement Defense Team for a free consultation. If there is a way to help you, we will find it.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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Frequently Asked Expungement Questions (FAQs)

Expungement laws and procedures can vary from state to state, including Michigan. It is best to consult with an experienced defense attorney to get answers to your specific questions. Michigan’s expungement statute is complex and nuanced. Common questions related to expungement in Michigan include the following:

What is expungement in Michigan? Expungement in Michigan, also known as “set aside,” is a legal process that allows individuals to have certain criminal convictions removed from their public criminal record, making them non-public and non-disclosable in most circumstances. Under Michigan law, expunged convictions remain on non-public federal and state databases.

Am I eligible for expungement in Michigan? Eligibility criteria have changed with recent legislative updates. Generally, some non-violent and non-sexual offenses are eligible for expungement, but certain convictions, like felonies with life sentences or certain traffic offenses, are not eligible. You can file a Motion to Set Aside most misdemeanor and felony convictions.

How long do I have to wait before I can apply for expungement in Michigan? The waiting period depends on the type of conviction. Typically, you have to wait:

  • 3 years for misdemeanors.
  • 5 years for most felonies and to set aside multiple misdemeanor convictions.
  • 7 years for certain serious felonies and to set aside multiple felony convictions.

Can I expunge multiple convictions at once? Michigan law allows multiple convictions to be expunged in a single application, as long as they were part of the same case and met the eligibility criteria.

Do I need an attorney to apply for expungement in Michigan? While it’s not required to have an attorney, many individuals hire one to ensure the process is completed correctly and improve their chances of success. Someone who proceeds in pro per (by themselves) or with a bargain lawyer risks losing an expungement motion. If a motion is unsuccessful, the petitioner must wait three (3) years before trying again and risks being unable to change the judge’s decision to deny the expungement request.

How much does it cost to apply for expungement in Michigan? There are minimal costs associated with court fees. The Michigan State Police charge $50.00 for a background check.

Will my expunged record be completely erased? No, it won’t be completely erased. Instead, your conviction will be sealed from public view. However, it may still be accessible to law enforcement, certain government agencies, and in specific circumstances, such as applying for a job that requires a security clearance or one in law enforcement. An expunged conviction can interfere with an application for a concealed pistol license or registration of a firearm.

How long does the expungement process take in Michigan? The process can take several months, and it varies depending on factors such as the court’s caseload and the complexity of your case. With LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., we have a team of lawyers and paralegals ready to start the expungement process immediately and can process the necessary paperwork and pleadings expeditiously.

Can I expunge a conviction for a crime no longer illegal under current Michigan law? Yes, you may be able to expunge convictions for certain crimes that are no longer illegal under current Michigan law. For example, there is an expedited process for expunging marijuana convictions.

Can expunged records be used against me in court if I get into legal trouble again? Expunged records are generally not admissible as evidence in court unless you face serious charges or apply for a job in certain fields. However, some crimes, such as domestic violence and OWI (Operating While Intoxicated), can be introduced into evidence and used to enhance future charges even if expunged from your public criminal history.