Expungement of Michigan Criminal Convictions

MILS & Detroit Mercy School of Law Expungement Presentation

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MILS may be able to help with expungements. Contact us at 231-947-0122.

SECOND CHANCES:  All of us value a second chance when we’re given one.  But for people who have a criminal record, that second chance is often elusive.  The pervading myth is that once the “debt to society” has been paid, the punishment would end.  Sadly, it usually does not.  Once released from jail or probation, affordable housing and gainful employment are often denied or unattainable due to a criminal record, even though all punishments and sentencing have ended.  Many landlords refuse to rent property; many employers refuse to consider an application that has been check-marked for a criminal.  As a result, some people continue to pay for their mistakes for many years or even decades.  A second chance allows these folks to become a positive and contributing member of their community.

Expungements of adult records - Legal Aid of Western Michigan has a one page to explain the expungement process, as well as a short video. Michigan Legal Help also provides information and forms

Expungement of a juvenile record- Juvenile records may be expunged. Learn about the process. Michigan Legal Help provides DIY forms.  

Michigan amended the statutory provisions governing the setting aside of eligible convictions in 2020, with the changes becoming effective in 2021.  One of the provisions included in the amended statute was an automatic setting aside of eligible convictions, effective this year. 

The Michigan State Police (MSP) is the agency responsible for the development and maintenance of the automatic setting aside of eligible convictions. On April 11, 2023, MSP’s “Rules Engine” went live. Since then, some people have noted their eligible convictions have been set aside. Others, who may be eligible, have not seen their convictions set aside. So, what’s the scoop? And is there a difference between the automatic setting aside of convictions the setting aside of convictions by application?

There are some significant differences between the automatic setting aside of convictions or setting aside of convictions – these differences are shown below.

Types of convictions eligible to be set aside:

        Automatic Set Aside:


  By Application:



Timing that must happen before a conviction can be set aside:


        Automatic Set Aside:



By Application:



Number of offenses that can be set aside:


         Automatic Set Aside:



         By Application:





 In general, all fines/costs/restitution must be paid before one can have any convictions set aside, whether by application or automatically.


Automatic Set Aside:


No cost to the person eligible for automatic setting aside of convictions.  Currently, MSP is requiring the various state courts to review the convictions automatically set aside and determine whether, from the court’s perspective, the automatic setting aside of a person’s convictions stands.


By Application, including the expedited process of setting aside marijuana convictions:



Length of time for conviction to be set aside:


        Automatic setting aside of convictions:


        The automatic setting aside of convictions is occurring on an ongoing, rolling basis. MSP has apparently started the process by working forward (oldest to newest). Michigan’s courts are now required to upload data to MSP on a daily basis.


        Unknowns include: 

How far back MSP is going.  Clients with really old convictions (older than 30 years) that are otherwise eligible for the automatic setting aside of convictions are not having these convictions automatically drop off. In addition, Wayne County has for years refused to submit convictions to MSP for entry into the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN). Downstate colleagues are reporting this is presenting issues for clients seeking to set aside Wayne County convictions.


        By Application:


       The length of the process is dependent upon a lot of different variables. These variables include the client’s ability to get documents to attorneys. Currently, Michigan’s courts are swamped. Part of the issue is the backlog because of COVID; Michigan’s courts continue to try and work through the backlog, in addition to keeping up with the current cases. Throw in the now added requirement of daily uploading of data to MSP, and the courts are overwhelmed and understaffed.  

Downstate colleagues continue to report (2 years into this) clients are experiencing long delays in being able to obtain the required documents.


        Attorney workloads are also an issue. Much like the courts, attorneys continue to play catch-up with delayed trials, hearings and proceedings. As well as continue to provide services to clients with new issues.


        In our office, we have experienced the US Postal Service losing documents during this process. When this happens, everyone essentially has to start over.  We haven’t noticed as many lost documents over the last six months, but we continue to experience significant delays in the mail and getting documents from and to clients for signature. 


        It has taken up to two months for MSP to complete their background check. MSP then forwards their findings to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office for their blessing. Despite an upgrade in software last year, the AG’s office continues to require at least four months to process the application and send their findings to both the courts and attorneys. Whether the automatic setting aside of convictions will decrease their workload has yet to be seen. In general, it is currently taking about six months from the time a client begins the process to the time of a hearing.