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New ‘Clean Slate’ Legislation Reform Michigan’s Expungement Laws

If you follow our blog here on The Kronzek Firm’s AggressiveCriminalDefense.com site, then you already know we discuss expungement whenever it happens to come up here in Michigan. And while there’s been a lot of dialogue over the years regarding the introduction and passage of an expungement bill package, we can finally share with you some very interesting details. Michigan’s newest piece of legislation – the Clean Slate legislative package, was signed into law just this month by Governor Whitmer. This ushers in a whole new way of dealing with the issue of expunging old criminal records in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton Counties, and everywhere else throughout the Great Lakes state.

The Michigan flag. Michigan's new expungement laws will change a lot for people in this state.

What is the “Clean Slate” bill package, and why is it important for expungement?

There were a total of seven bills included in this package. We’ve provided a simple breakdown of the different bills and the areas of criminal justice they will affect.

  • House Bill 4980: This creates an automated process for expunging eligible misdemeanors after seven years, and eligible non-assaultive felonies after 10 years.
  • House Bill 4981: This makes most convictions for traffic offenses (which constitute half of all criminal cases in Michigan) eligible for expungement.
  • House Bill 4982: This allows most marijuana convictions to be expunged, which would have become legal as of December 6th, 2018, when recreational marijuana was legalized in Michigan.
  • House Bill 4983: This reduces the required waiting period a person needs to file a petition to expunge a record of a misdemeanor conviction to only three years.
  • House Bill 4984: This increases the number of misdemeanors and felonies a person can have expunged to: an unlimited number of non-assaultive misdemeanors, and up to three felonies (However you still wouldn’t be able to have more than two assaultive felonies expunged, or multiple convictions of the same crime with a maximum sentence of over 10 years.)
  • HB 4985: This allows multiple convictions for certain specific offenses that all happened on “one bad night” to be eligible for expungement as a single offense.
  • HB 5120: This creates a rebuttal process for marijuana expungements and sets it up so that the burden of proof is on prosecutors, not on the defense.

What would this expungement law mean for the people of Michigan?

According to John S. Cooper, the Executive Director of Safe & Just Michigan, in an interview with LegalNews.com, the passage of this bill package will revolutionize futures for many Michigan residents. “Old criminal records prevent people from getting good jobs and housing, even after decades of lawful behavior, and Michigan’s current expungement process is too narrow and too burdensome to help the vast majority of people who could benefit from it. 

Research has shown this would be beneficial for everyone.

According to a press release shared by the Governor’s Office, research done by the University of Michigan law school, that was recently published by the Harvard Law Review, showed that people whose criminal histories are expunged see a 23% increase in income within a year. That’s a significant rise! This translates into more resources for families and communities all over Michigan, like those in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Howell. It also means a broader tax base, which benefits the public in general without having any negative impact on the people’s safety.

However, our new law is not without its critics. Some argue that we are not holding people accountable for their past actions. Others argue that the new law attempts to rewrite history by eliminating important historical information about people. Some employers are concerned that they might hire people with a history of making bad decisions. Regardless of what you think about the new law, it’s important to understand that an expungement only clears a conviction from public view. It does not hide those past convictions from the government, judges, or courts. 

The best way to avoid a criminal record is to avoid a conviction!

Obviously, the best way to not end up with a criminal record is to not break the law. But let’s be real – that’s a very simplistic attitude to take when you consider the wrongful conviction rate in Michigan. So our advice is to make sure that, no matter what, you always get the best attorney you can afford. When you’ve been accused of a crime, regardless of your innocence, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 and talk to our experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorneys. We’ve got decades of experience fighting false allegations and wrongful charges, and we’re available 24/7 to protect your rights by calling 866 7NoJail.

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