Having a juvenile record can crush the job prospects of a young person exactly the same way having a criminal record does. Last year it got easier to set aside a juvenile record in Michigan. Setting aside your record, sometimes called expunging, means it will no longer be public and won't show up on a background check.
Not everybody who committed an offense as a juvenile can set aside their record. The state isn't willing to clear records it considers too long or too serious. The state will only set aside juvenile records for people who:
- Don't have any federal convictions or criminal convictions in another state
- Don't have more than one crime that would have been a felony if committed by an adult
- Don't have more than three misdemeanors. Two things to know about this:
- If you have one crime that would have been a felony then you can only have two misdemeanors to qualify for expungement.
- If your record has several acts committed in a row over 12 hours or less, they'll count as one offense as long as there were not violent crimes or weapons possession charges involved
You also have to wait to file any paperwork until a year after any sentence is over or until age 18, whichever is later. If you don't know exactly what's on your record, get a copy for $10 from ICHAT (the Internet Criminal History Access Tool) here.
If you want to try to set aside your record:
Of course, there's a form for that (form JC-66). Before you fill out the form you'll need to get fingerprinted at a local police station. Ask for a fingerprint card and fill it out completely. The station sends this to the state police to check your records so they and the FBI can compare your prints with their records. Get ready to spend up to $50 on this part of the process.
Going back to court:
You'll need to go back to the court where your juvenile offense was adjudicated to get certified copies of the offenses you want to set aside. You can also file your paperwork at that court. It pays to be nice to the clerk of the court! The clerk has all the information to best help you with questions you have about the process, which is listed below:
- You need a certified copy of each offense you want to set aside. A certified copy shows the state the document comes directly from the court, each of those copies cost around $10 each. You need more copies of these for your application, but they don't all need to be certified.
- It makes sense to fill out the application at the court where you're going to hand it in since you need to sign in in front of the clerk.
- When you turn in the form you'll get a date for your hearing. It's likely to be a week or so after you turn in the application. (If you're trying to clear more than one offense you might need to fill out more than one application).
- Frank Vandervort from the University of Michigan's juvenile justice clinic says if a person is eligible to set aside their record it's usually successful, but that's not a promise.
If a Google search on your name turns up mugshots on a website like mugshots.com, you'll need to contact them once your record has been set aside and ask them to take it down.
How to find help:
Vandervort's clinic has lawyers and law students working on juvenile justice issues. It's one place to call if you're running into trouble trying to set aside a juvenile record.
There's also a list of legal organizations that might be able to help young people find lawyers to help them through the process of getting a record cleared.
If you've had problems setting your record aside:
Tell us about it. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 734-763-0538. Others might be able to learn from your experience.
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