Changes to Criminal Record Expungement Laws

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Do you want to keep that criminal record?  The time to get it expunged is now.  The laws and the requirements have changed making it easier to remove that debacle from your life that you may or may not have done (but plead to it anyway).  Get your future back in order and feel confident about filling out job applications, social activities and so much more.

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Explanation of Recent Changes to the Expungement Statute, MCL 780.621 et seq.amended by 2014 PA 463(eff. Jan 12, 2015)

1.16 The Former Criminal Expungement Rule. 

The eligibility rules before 2011 were (1) that the offender had to have only one conviction on his or her record, (2) that the conviction was for an eligible offense, and (3) that the petition could not be filed until five years after the imposition of sentence or completion of incarceration, whichever was later. Ineligible offenses were those with a maximum penalty of life and attempts to commit those crimes, certain sex crimes and attempts to commit those crimes, and traffic offenses.

2011 Criminal Expungement Rule Change. 

In June 2011, the legislature expanded the list of eligible offenders but narrowed the list of eligible offenses. An eligible offender included an individual with a single conviction on his or her record and also an individual who had one felony conviction and not more than two “minor offense” convictions. “Minor offense” was defined as an offense committed before the offender’s 21st birthday and for which the maximum penalty was not more than 90 days and a fine of not more than $1,000. The list of ineligible offenses was expanded to include child sexually abusive activity, using the Internet or computer to commit a crime, and attempts to commit those crimes. 2011 PA 64 (eff. June 23, 2011).

2015 Criminal Expungement Rule Change. 

Once again, the legislature expanded the list of eligible offenders but narrowed the list of eligible offenses. The legislature also changed the timing rules and expanded the definition of “misdemeanor” and “felony” conviction to include deferred and diverted matters.

Practical Implications

1.17 Eligible Offender. As of January 12, 2015, an eligible offender includes (1) an individual with a single conviction, (2) an individual with one felony conviction and two misdemeanor convictions, or (3) an individual with no felony convictions and two misdemeanor convictions. In the second scenario, the offender may petition to expunge the felony conviction alone. In the third scenario, the individual may petition to expunge one or both misdemeanor convictions. MCL 780.621(1)(a)–(b).624.

Eligible Offenses. An individual may not petition for the expungement of a felony conviction for which the maximum penalty is life imprisonment or attempts to commit those crimes, certain sex crimes and attempts to commit those crimes (including child sexually abusive activity; second degree child abuse; CSC first, second, third, and fourth degree; and assault with intent to commit CSC), and traffic offenses including drunk driving. The list also includes human trafficking convictions and a felony domestic violence conviction if the offender has a prior misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. MCL 780.621(3).

CSC Fourth Degree. If the offender was convicted of CSC fourth degree before January 12, 2015, the individual may petition to expunge this conviction if the individual has no more than two “minor offenses” on his or her record (see the definition of “minor offense” above). There is no relief for a CSC fourth degree conviction entered after January 12, 2015. The statute is unclear about what happens for a CSC fourth degree conviction entered on January 12, 2015. MCL 780.621(1)(c).

Misdemeanor Conviction. This term is now defined to include misdemeanor offenses under a penal law of this state, another state, an Indian tribe, the law of the United States, a local ordinance, etc. It also includes misdemeanor and felony matters deferred or dismissed under certain liquor code provisions, drug court diversions, veterans court diversions, HYTA, MCL 333.7411, domestic violence diversion, parental kidnapping diversion, and certain health care violations. MCL 780.621(2)(16)(f).

Felony Conviction. For purposes of the offense to be set aside, this term applies to Michigan crimes for which the maximum penalty is more than one year or crimes that are designated by law to be a felony. For purposes of determining the offender’s prior record, this term includes convictions from this state, another state, or the United States if the offense is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or is designated by law to be a felony. MCL 780.621(16)(c).

Five-Year Wait. Previously, the individual was not allowed to file a petition until five years from the date of sentencing or five years from the completion of incarceration, whichever was later. Now, the five-year period runs from the completion of probation; the completion of parole; the completion of a prison sentence if no parole is granted (or is revoked); the completion of a jail sentence if no probation is imposed; or the date of sentencing if there is no incarceration, probation, or parole. MCL 780.621(5).

Renewed Petitions. If the application is denied, it may not be refiled for at least three years unless the court specifies an earlier date in the order denying the application. MCL 780.621(6).

Prostitution Convictions.Effective January 14, 2015, an individual may petition to expunge one or more prostitution convictions under MCL 750.448.449, and .450, if the individual can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the crime was committed as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking (i.e, forced prostitution). There appears to be no limit on the number of prostitution convictions that may be expunged, and there is no time limitation for the filing of the petition (i.e., it may be filed without a five-year wait). MCL 780.621(4)(7)(13)amended by 2014 PA 335 (eff. Jan 14, 2015).

Minor Offense.This term is now relevant only for CSC fourth degree convictions entered before January 12, 2015. “Minor offense” means a misdemeanor or ordinance violation committed before the age of 21 with a maximum penalty not to exceed 90 days and a maximum fine not to exceed $1,000. MCL 780.621(1)(c).


About Komorn Law

Komorn Law has represented numerous clients through the legal chaos of starting up a business in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Industry, the criminal justice system and criminal record expungement.

If you or someone you know is facing charges as a result of Medical Marijuana, DUI, Drugs, Forfeiture, Criminal Enterprise, etc. Please contact our office and ensure you’re defended by an experienced lawyer in the evolving laws.

Lead attorney Michael Komorn is recognized as an expert on the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. He is the President of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association (MMMA), a nonprofit patient advocacy group which advocates for the rights of medical marijuana patients and their caregivers.

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