Filing an Innocence Claim
Prosecutors play a special role in the criminal legal system. They must seek both truth and justice. Consistent with that duty, Michigan prosecutors have a legal duty to correct wrongful convictions. The Conviction Integrity and Expungement Unit’s (CIEU) goal is two-fold: both to prevent and correct wrongful convictions.
The CIEU investigates claims of actual innocence to see if there is new, credible, material evidence never specifically addressed by any court that supports those claims. The CIEU will make a recommendation to the Prosecuting Attorney and Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney about the appropriate remedy (if any) that should result from the Unit’s findings. The Prosecuting Attorney will make all final decisions about whether a remedy is appropriate. Only a court can grant any relief requested.
If you would like the CIEU to review a case, please read the below and submit an application. If you need a hard copy of the application sent to you, please contact us at [email protected] or write to:
Conviction Integrity and Expungement Unit
Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office
200 North Main Street
P.O. Box 8645
Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8645
Frequently Asked Questions:
Who is eligible?
Only people who can answer YES to all of the following questions are eligible to apply for CIEU review:
- Was the applicant prosecuted by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office and convicted in a court in Washtenaw County, Michigan?
- Has the applicant been convicted and sentenced?
- Is the applicant factually innocent of the crime(s) of which they were convicted?
What should I know about a CIEU review of my case?
The CIEU is part of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office, which is a government agency. You have the right not to provide information to the CIEU.
Writing the CIEU:
- DOES NOT give legal advice.
- DOES NOT stop or postpone any deadlines imposed by law, such as for filing an appeal or federal habeas petition.
- DOES NOT require you to waive attorney-client privilege.
- DOES NOT guarantee the CIEU will investigate your case.
- DOES NOT promise any outcome of any review undertaken by the CIEU.
How will the CIEU communicate?
- The CIEU will communicate with lawyers for those applicants who are represented by attorneys.
- The CIEU will communicate directly with applicants who are not represented by attorneys, NOT family members or friends who may have prepared the application on an applicant’s behalf (unless given authorization in writing directly from the applicant).
What can I expect from a CIEU investigation?
If the CIEU investigates your case, it MAY:
- Collect your case files from the prosecutor’s office, police agencies, courts, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), and other governmental entities.
- Request additional information from you or others about your case.
- Request that you authorize your trial attorney(s) to discuss your case with us.
The CIEU will NOT:
- Attempt to speak with your trial counsel without your written permission.
- Provide your application or the materials you submit to the CIEU to other members of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office for prosecution purposes. Your information, however, may be shared with the Prosecuting Attorney and the Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney to discuss recommendations on your innocence claim.
What are some of the causes of wrongful convictions?
As of 2022, there have been over 3,200 exonerations of wrongfully convicted people. Every case is different, as is the reason that a conviction was wrongfully obtained. That said, there are common causes of wrongful convictions—those that our office has been trained to be aware of, and to avoid. You can view our full office training on wrongful convictions here, which provides a national overview of wrongful convictions, their causes, and how prosecutors can prevent them.