Expungement and Set Aside Conviction
The label of “felon” can make almost every aspect of your life more difficult. A criminal record can interfere with anything from getting a job and obtaining loans and building your credit, to acquiring housing and getting professional certifications. Simple daily living can also be impacted, including the ability to enjoy recreational activities or even take a vacation.
An expungement attorney knowledgeable of Michigan law will help you petition the court to set aside your conviction, expunge your criminal history, and, most importantly, clear your name.
Michigan Petition to Set Aside Conviction Explained
A criminal conviction is almost always permanent. Once a judgment of sentence is entered (after a trial or plea agreement), the conviction will follow the defendant for life. However, in limited circumstances, convicted defendants can ask the court to set aside their convictions to start their lives over with a clean slate.
Michigan has a law that allows for a petition to set aside conviction in certain cases. Petitioners can ask the court to remove one felony or up to two “minor” misdemeanors from their record. There are many obstacles though. For example, if you took a “deferred sentence” in a case or participated in a domestic violence diversionary program, those underlying charges will count toward your existing criminal history for expungement proceedings.
Certain crimes are barred from expungement because of their severity or nature. These include:
- Criminal sexual conduct offenses
- Child pornography or solicitation
- Child abuse
- Traffic offenses, including OWI (drunk driving)
- Felony domestic violence charges (2nd offense or more)
If a felony or misdemeanor is eligible for set aside, you must wait at least 5 years after the latest of your:
- Date of conviction
- Successful probation termination
- Parole discharge
- Jail or prison release
And, if a previous petition to set aside conviction was denied, you will have to wait at least 3 years before you can apply again.
To be clear, there is a legal distinction between an expungement and having a conviction set aside. Expungements are rarely granted, but essentially wipe out a conviction as if it never occurred. Instead of eliminating a conviction completely, a petition to set aside conviction makes the history non-public and unavailable to individuals, employers, and the like. Some entities, however, such as law enforcement, federal agencies, and judicial bodies, will have limited access to verify that a conviction was entered but that it was later set aside.
Advocating to Set Aside Convictions
Even when you can check all the right boxes to petition to set aside your conviction, it is up to the judge whether to grant that petition and clear your criminal history. To make that decision, the judge will consider:
- The circumstances of the original conviction
- What you have done in the time since your conviction
- Why you want your conviction set aside
- What the victim (if any) of your crime has to say about your request
This is where the assistance of an experienced expungement attorney is critical. Anyone can fill out the paperwork to set aside a conviction, get their fingerprints taken, complete a background check, and show up in court. At the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, we go further by helping ensure you’re eligible to have your conviction set aside and make a strong case for why the court should grant your request. We have been representing expungement petitioners for the better part of 50 years and know what judges look for when considering these petitions, and what it will take to win your appeal.
Contact us to schedule your free consultation with an experienced expungement attorney who will educate you on the requirements of “set-aside law” and help craft a solid argument to get your petition granted.
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