LANSING, MI – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday signed a bill package that provides a framework for thousands of Michigan residents to seal prior criminal records from public view.
The “Clean Slate” legislation is designed to expand expungement options for people who have gone several years without committing another offense, including low-level marijuana offenses. The House bills passed the Michigan Legislature with wide bipartisan support in September.
House Bills 4980-4985 and 5120 all were sponsored by both Republican and Democratic state lawmakers. Whitmer thanked the “bipartisan leaders” who helped make the legislation possible.
“These bipartisan bills are a game changer for people who are seeking opportunities for employment, housing and more, and they will help ensure a clean slate for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders,” she said in a release. “This is also an opportunity to grow our workforce and expand access to job training and education for so many people.”
Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, echoed Whitmer’s sentiment, saying the collaboration on both sides of the aisle will help limit the “cruel cycle of poverty and crime.”
Read more: What pending changes to expungement laws mean for setting aside criminal records in Michigan
Under previous law, Michigan residents with up to two misdemeanors or one felony conviction for certain crimes are eligible to ask a judge to clear their record if they haven’t committed other offenses for five years or more.
The changes made by the newly-approved bills include:
- The implementation of an automatic process for scrubbing certain misdemeanors after seven years and certain felonies – not including those involving assault – after 10 years.
- An increase in the number of felonies and misdemeanors eligible to be sealed from a person’s public record, as well as the types of offenses that can be removed.
- The establishment of a three-to-seven-year waiting period before someone is able to apply for expungement.
- The added ability to combine multiple felonies or misdemeanor offenses arising from the same transaction as a single felony or misdemeanor conviction, as long as the offenses happened within 24 hours of one another and are not crimes involving assault, possession or use of a dangerous weapon, or an offense that requires more than 10 years in prison.
- The expansion of expungement eligibility for lesser traffic offenses, not including operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
- The added ability for a person to request that a judge expunge one or more marijuana offenses if the violation occurred after Michigan legalized recreational use in December 2018.
It’s unclear exactly how many Michigan residents would be impacted by the new legislation, but experts estimate it could be in the hundreds of thousands.
In Detroit alone, Mayor Mike Duggan said the bills would help the city’s economic recovery through a new supply of workers.
“Thousands of Detroiters who want to work and be a part of Detroit’s comeback have been held back for too long because of mistakes they’ve made in their past,” he said. “Thanks to the Governor and our state