Auto expungements may not always happen on time.
Automatic expungement of certain criminal convictions began this year in Michigan—two years after the Clean Slate Act took effect. The legislation also expanded expungement eligibility through the application process.
Expungement is important because criminal records can have long-term negative impacts on people even after they have completed their sentences. Past criminal activity that appears in background checks can be used to deny a person housing, financing, education, and work opportunities (among other detriments).
In Michigan, the automatic expungement process is set in motion by a daily update from state police regarding when a person's crimes are eligible to be wiped clean. The courts do their due diligence, and if everything checks out (and nothing falls through the cracks), an automatic expungement is granted. Unfortunately, delays and missed auto expungement opportunities happen. Many people need help obtaining a clean slate.
Do you qualify for automatic expungement in Michigan? Here's what you need to know.
Qualifying for a Clean Slate
The Clean Slate Act created a process for removing some felonies and misdemeanors from an individual's criminal record without that person having to make a request or take other action. The types of crimes that can be automatically wiped from a person's record after a certain amount of time include:
- Misdemeanors punishable by less than 92 days of imprisonment. Records of this type of conviction can automatically be expunged seven years after the sentencing date. There is no limit to how many convictions for this type of misdemeanor can be wiped clean.
- Misdemeanors punishable by 93 days or more of imprisonment. This type of conviction can be wiped clear seven years after the sentencing date if there are no criminal charges pending against the individual and they have not been convicted of another criminal offense within the seven years. Only four convictions of this type may be auto-expunged from a record.
- Felonies. Up to two felonies, including some types of first-offense operating while impaired (OWI or DUI), can be automatically expunged 10 years after the sentencing date or the completion of an imprisonment sentence, whichever happened last. An automatic expungement may not be granted if the individual has pending charges or was convicted of another crime within 10 years.
Offenses that cannot be automatically expunged include violent crimes like assault, kidnapping, rape, homicide, and manslaughter, "serious" misdemeanors, second and subsequent DUIs, "dishonest" crimes like forgery, and crimes punishable by 10 or more years in prison. Also, most crimes involving minors, vulnerable adults, serious injuries, death, or human trafficking cannot be auto-expunged either.
Did your automatic expungement go through?
It's not always obvious when an automatic expungement has taken place. Just because the required wait time for an auto expungement has lapsed does not mean the process is complete. Individuals can check to see if their records were expunged with the help of a lawyer or by running background checks on themselves through Michigan State Police's ICHAT service. It costs $10 per search.
Talk to a criminal defense attorney in Flint, MI about your options
Automatic expungement and expanded eligibility have been life-changing for thousands of people in Michigan. However, technical difficulties and backlogs have put expungement out of reach for others. People are reportedly waiting up to 6 months to a year or longer for expungements. The wait is significant even for people who qualify for automatic expungements.
Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can help expedite the process. It ensures legal standards for expungement are met, roadblocks are addressed, and the case keeps moving forward.
If you want to expunge a past conviction in Michigan, Manley & Manley has extensive experience getting convictions expunged or set aside. Every case is different. Contact us for a free case evaluation to learn whether you are a candidate for expungement and how we can help.