Understanding Changes to the Expungement Law

The expungement law has recently changed making it easier to set aside a conviction.
An individual called me today about expunging (setting aside), a misdemeanor larceny conviction from 2007. In addition, he had two other misdemeanor convictions in 2008, for drunk driving and resisting arrest when he didn’t obey the arresting officer who pulled him over for the DUI.

The new expungement law, Public Act 4186, took immediate effect on January 14, 2015. Under the new changes, a person may set aside certain felonies even if they have two misdemeanor convictions. The law also allows a person with two misdemeanors to set aside both at the same time if they do not have another felony or misdemeanor conviction.

In the case of the individual who called me, the original larceny charge against him was a felony, that, as a result of a plea bargain, was reduced to a misdemeanor. While at the time, this probably was a good idea, under the new law, because he has three misdemeanors rather than two misdemeanors and a felony, he is out of luck.

When you think about, it seems better to have three misdemeanor convictions than two misdemeanor convictions and a felony. Unfortunately, the law is specific. While the new law probably does not make a lot of sense the way it is currently written, it is the law until it is changed again.

Bottom line, contact your state lawmaker. The expungement law has changed two times in the last few years and maybe another change is needed.