Your past does not define your future.
What is expungement?
Expungement is the legal act of clearing criminal convictions off your public record. That means, when you get your conviction expunged, you are able to answer “no” when someone asks whether you have ever been convicted of an offense. This can mean the difference between whether or not you get a job or are approved for housing.
The Pathway to Expungement
The Legal Process
This is the basic process. But remember: This is general information, not legal advice.
Not all cases are the same and expungements are not guaranteed.
Getting Legal Help
Legal Aid of Western Michigan (LAWM) and our volunteer attorneys provide free legal help to eligible expungement clients in Kent and 16 other counties. Other sources of help are available in Michigan. For more information:
Want to learn more about Clean Slate and Expungement?
Explainer: Michigan’s New Expungement and “Clean Slate” Laws
Read a summary of how the expungement laws work, what convictions can be expunged, and when they can be expunged.
Legal Process Checklist
Keep track of the steps you must take to complete the expungement legal process.
Expungement Self-help Toolkit
Use Michigan Legal Help’s guide for people applying for expungement without a lawyer.
Kent County Expungement Guide
Read information on the expungement process in Kent County, written by the county prosecutor and a county commissioner
For the phone number to apply for Legal Aid of Western Michigan’s help, click on the county where you have past criminal convictions. If you have convictions in multiple counties, click on the county with the most recent conviction.
The Legal Process Details
The Legal Process Details. This is general information, not legal advice
- Order a copy of your “ICHAT” (Internet Criminal History Access Tool) background check at https://apps.michigan.gov/. There is a $10 charge for this search.
- It is always best to have an attorney review your ICHAT. If you are reviewing your ICHAT without an attorney, Michigan Legal Help provides an expungement toolkit.
- ICHATS are not always accurate. You can check local court records to confirm your conviction type. Once you have confirmed your eligibility, request a Certified Copy of Conviction for the conviction(s) you wish to set aside.
- There is generally a $10 fee for the first page and $1 for any additional pages, so if you have several convictions, the costs can really add up. You only need certified records for the convictions that you wish to expunge.
- Fingerprints must be filed with most kinds of expungement applications. They are not required for an application to set aside misdemeanor marijuana conviction(s).
- Options for getting fingerprints:
- The Michigan State Police are currently doing fingerprints for free.
- Most police stations or sheriff posts provide fingerprints for a fee.
- Private businesses also provide fingerprints for a fee.
- You need only one set of fingerprints for multiple applications if you mail the applications to the Michigan State Police together.
A $50.00 processing fee will still be required per application.
- When you have fingerprints and all certified records for the convictions you are seeking to expunge, you are ready to complete the application form.
- For most convictions, use the “MC 227” application to set aside conviction(s)
- Note: Michigan Legal Help’s online expungement toolkit guides you through the process of completing the form, which you can then print out.
- You must have your application notarized before filing. You can find notary services at many banks, law offices, or at the courthouse. The misdemeanor marijuana application does not require a notary.
- Filing: file your application at the court where you were convicted. Call the court to find out their process for filing and scheduling a hearing. When you are filing, bring your application, certified records, and fingerprint records, along with at least 4 copies of each.
- Mail to the Michigan State Police: 1) a copy of the filed expungement application, 2) a copy of certified conviction records, 3) fingerprints, and 4) a $50 check (made out to the State of Michigan) for each expungement application. Exception: no fee required for misdemeanor marijuana applications
- Mail to the Department of the Michigan Attorney General: 1) a copy of the filed expungement application, 2) a copy of certified conviction records, 3) fingerprints,
- Mail to the prosecuting official from your case (usually the county prosecutor): 1) a copy of the filed expungement application, 2) a copy of certified conviction records, 3) fingerprints.
- If you get a court date when you filed the expungement application, send notice of that hearing to all three parties. This will be completed on page three of the application.
- If you do not get a court date scheduled when you file the application, ask the court whether they notify the other parties. If the court does not notify those parties, you must do it.
- Review Michigan Legal Help’s “What to Expect When You Go to Court” guide.
- At the hearing:
- be ready to explain how your life has changed since the convictions(s) and what you learned from your mistakes. Do not talk about why the conviction was unfair, even if you feel that way.
- You may submit letters of support, evidence of educational degrees (like a GED or college degree), proof of employment.
- The judge has the discretion to decide whether setting aside a conviction is consistent with the public welfare or not, so expungement is not guaranteed even if a conviction is eligible.
- Generally, if the judge denies your application to set aside any conviction, you cannot re-apply for three years. If you are unsuccessful, you can ask the judge to allow you to re-apply sooner, but that must be done at the hearing. You can also ask the court to reconsider the decision or appeal the decision, but either action must be done within 21 days from the hearing.
- Hopefully, the judge has granted your application and signed an order to set aside conviction(s). If so, the court sends a copy to the Michigan State Police.
- Once the MSP receives the court order, it can take up to 8 weeks to remove the conviction(s) from your record.
- After two months, order another ICHAT to verify whether the convictions have been removed.