Do I Need an Attorney to Expunge my Criminal Record in Michigan?
UPDATED: March 10, 2020
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The application process for expunging your criminal record can be rather confusing. If you have any questions about filing, waiting periods, or the law governing expungement, hire an attorney: only an attorney can provide you with legal advice.
Additionally, because this is such an important process for your future prospects (employment, housing rental, financial aid, and more), you want to have an expert to rely on during this process. An attorney will have knowledge and skills of getting an expungement, understand the procedures, and paperwork involved… and do it correctly! Having an attorney represent you will save you a lot of headache in trying to navigate this complicated system.
If you were denied an expungement request because your crime was reportable to the Secretary of State, or think your record is ineligible for that reason, you should definitely consult an attorney. In 2009, an important court case was held in the Michigan Court of Appeals over the issue of expungement of reportable offenses. People v Droog, 282 Mich App 68, 761 NW2d 822 heard the appeal of someone whose application to set aside her criminal conviction was denied because of the "reportable offense" requirement described in the Michigan Vehicle Code. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and concluded that the reportable offense requirement of the Vehicle Code does not apply to prohibit setting aside convictions under the Code of Criminal Procedure. In other words, if your crime falls under the Code of Criminal Procedure, then unless it also meets one of the other three exceptions to eligibility, then its reportability will not – by itself – be sufficient reason to deny expunging your record. The Secretary of State, to whom the crime was reported, may still keep a record of your crime (that's what reportability means), but that does not stop the court from setting aside your conviction and providing you the benefits that come with that. If you think your case may have been affected by this recent court ruling, then consult a local attorney specializing in criminal record expungements for the state of Michigan. (For help finding an attorney, click here for a list of experienced Michigan criminal attorneys.) Note that some lawyers will provide free initial consultations.
For more information on Michigan's law, click the following articles: