A recent set of bills that would likely make hundreds to thousands more Michigan residents eligible to have their criminal records wiped clean passed the state House on Thursday. These bills are now on their way to Governor Whitmer’s desk where they are expected to be signed into law.
What Would These Bills Do?
These new bills would dramatically change Michigan’s system for expunging criminal records. Supporters of the bills believe it would increase opportunities for employment and housing to many who have previously struggled while carrying old convictions despite years of staying out of the criminal justice system. Representative Graham Filler (DeWitt) said in a statement on Thursday, “Making expungement cheaper, easier and available to more residents than ever before will remove the barriers that hold too many people back. . . This will change lives for the better by giving people access to the well-paying jobs they have always dreamed about, financing options so they can buy a home for their family and the educational opportunities they need to better their future.”
The Clean Slate Bill
The largest change is likely to come from the Clean Slate bill. The Clean Slate bill would create a system that would automatically clear individuals’ records without requiring them to apply, if they have not committed another crime. This bill would expunge misdemeanor convictions seven years after sentencing and felony convictions 10 years after sentencing or when an individual is released from the court system (incarceration/probation), whichever comes later.
Individuals would be eligible to have two felonies and four misdemeanors automatically cleared under the new legislation. However, violent crimes, crimes of dishonesty such as forgery, crimes punishable by more than 10 years in prison, and other serious crimes like human trafficking would not be eligible.
The bills would also expand the number of convictions eligible for expungement by application. Up to three felonies and an unlimited amount of misdemeanors could be expunged, but no more than two assaultive crimes and no more than one felony if it’s punishable by more than 10 years in prison. This legislation would also make it possible for misdemeanors to be expunged after three years, felonies after seven years, and serious misdemeanors or a single felony to five years.
Further, the bills would create a process for individuals that were conceited of multiple marijuana misdemeanors to be able to apply for streamlined expungement, which would require prosecutors who choose to challenge the expungement to prove that the crime(s) would still have been criminal if it occurred after adult-use marijuana became legal in 2018.
The bills aim to restrict other crimes from expungement such as crimes with a sentence of life in prison, domestic violence, traffic offenses where someone was seriously injured or died, child abuse, sexual assault, and driving while intoxicated.
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