Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently signed a bipartisan Clean Slate bill that completely overhauls the formerly restrictive laws here in Michigan. It will automatically wipe out some criminal convictions and increases the potential eligibility for others who apply. This change will impact hundreds of thousands here in Michigan, and heralds the state as a national leader in expungement reform.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the automatic record clearing is the most comprehensive in the country, while the governor referred to it as historic, adding:

“These bipartisan bills are going to be a game-changer. They will ensure a clean slate for hundreds of thousands of people. And they will help us grow our workforce and expand access to education and skills training.”

New economic opportunities

Advocates have long pushed for this reform because the state’s expungement process was complicated and costly. Its restrictions were also unduly narrow. This lead to only 6.5% of those previously eligible to have their records expunged. The result of this new law is that those formerly charged not have some criminal charges not show up during background checks. This shift will lead to more economic opportunities, higher pay and lower recidivism rates to those previously charged.

How it works

Highlights of the new law include:

  • Qualifying crimes will automatically be expunged seven years after the sentence or time served.
  • A non-assaultive felony will be automatically be expunged 10 years after the sentence or time served.
  • Residents convicted of a serious misdemeanor or felony can apply for expungement after five years. Those with more than one felony can apply after seven years.
  • Multiple felony offenses or misdemeanor offenses that happened simultaneously will be considered one offense when applying for expungement.
  • Those crimes expunged will still be considered a prior conviction when the courts, prosecutors and agencies charge an individual.
  • Those convicted of one or more marijuana misdemeanor charges before legalization in 2018 can immediately apply for expungement.

Not sure how to seek expungement?

Those with questions can go to the state’s various web sites to get information, but the information may be confusing. Those with questions often can get the answers they need by consulting a criminal defense attorney who handles expungement.

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