A couple of months ago we shared some information with you about Michigan’s new Clean Slate Act, and the impact it will have on the state of Michigan’s expungement laws. However, the Clean Slate Act is much more complex than just a law that makes expungement of certain misdemeanors and felonies automatic after a certain period of time. There is a lot more going on here. So because we’ve had people asking for clarification on several points, we thought we’d take a minute to clear up a few things for our readers.
A ‘set aside’ is not the same thing as an exoneration:
By definition, an exoneration is what happens when a person who was convicted of a crime, is officially cleared based on new evidence of innocence. In essence, it’s when the court says, “We were wrong about you. You were never guilty of this crime, and your conviction has been completely overturned.” But a ‘set aside’, which is another term for an expungement, is completely different. (Both of these are different from a pardon.)
When a criminal record is expunged, the court is not saying they were wrong, or that the convict is actually innocent. They are simply making it so that your criminal record is no longer publicly visible. Michigan’s new Clean Slate Act allows certain misdemeanors and felonies to be set side after a period of time, but it doesn’t mean you weren’t guilty of those crimes, and those records are still available to law enforcement, courts, and government officials.
Having a record expunged doesn’t change certain consequences:
If you were ordered by the court to pay restitution to a victim when you were convicted of a crime, and that record is now being set aside, that doesn’t change the legal obligation you have to complete those restitution payments. Set aside or not, you will still be required to complete those payments. And the same goes for any other fees, costs or fines that were ordered by the court at the time you were convicted.
Expungement doesn’t affect certain legal rights:
Having a criminal record expunged in Michigan doesn’t give you the right to sue for damages for incarceration based on the set-aside conviction. Remember, having a criminal record set aside is not the same thing as being exonerated. You were convicted of a crime in court, served the time, and now the court is allowing you to move out from under the shadow of that past.
But they aren’t saying you’re innocent, so you can’t sue for damages against the prison or government officials who might have caused physical injuries or other harm during your incarceration. And on the flip side, having your record expunged doesn’t mean your victim can’t sue you for civil damages in civil court. For example, if someone from Ingham County is convicted of joyriding in a stolen vehicle that was damaged (but the incident didn’t result in anyone being injured or killed) the owner of the car could still sue them for the cost of the damages.
Some crimes that were never covered before are included now:
Under the old system, very few criminal convictions were eligible for expungement. But under the new law, there are a number of options available that were never even up for consideration before. For example, it will be possible, starting in April of 2021, for first time DUI drunk driving convictions to be eligible for expungement.
However, they won’t be covered under the automatic expungement law, and your attorney will have to petition the court to have those records set aside. Nor would any subsequent drunk driving convictions be eligible for expungement.
You don’t need an expungement if you never get convicted to begin with!
As we like to remind our readers every time we discuss the subject of expungement, you won’t ever have to worry about clearing criminal records if you never get any in the first place. And the only way to do that is to make sure that if you’re ever charged with a crime, you have the best defense attorney money can buy.
So if you get arrested in Lansing, Brighton, Mt. Pleasant or Grand Haven, or accused of a crime in Saginaw or Battle Creek, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our aggressive criminal defense warriors are available 24 hours and for emergency crisis consultations. The right attorney is critical to the outcome of your case. We are available by phone at 866 7NoJail to protect your rights and help you fight against unnecessary incarceration.