“Expungement” refers to the legal process of setting aside a criminal conviction. A growing recognition that many people deserve second chances has led to the expansion of this opportunity. When Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the new law, she proclaimed, “This is a historic day in Michigan. 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.”
Highlights of this “Clean Slate” legislation, codified at MCL 780.621d (effective April 11, 2021), include:
- Expanding the number and revises the types of felonies and misdemeanors eligible to be set aside by application.
- Revising the waiting periods before being eligible to apply for a set-aside.
- Treating multiple felonies or misdemeanor offenses arising from the same transaction as a single felony or misdemeanor conviction, provided the offenses happened within 24 hours of one another and are not assaultive crimes, nor involves possession or use of a dangerous weapon, nor is a crime that carries a penalty of 10 or more years in prison. (Sometimes called the “One Bad Night” provision.)
- Expanding set aside eligibility for various traffic offenses.
- Allowing a person to petition to set aside one or more marijuana offenses, if the offense would not have been a crime if committed after the use of recreational marijuana by adults became legal in the state.
- Creating an automatic process for setting aside eligible misdemeanors after seven years and eligible non-assaultive felonies after 10 years (effective April 2023).
What Exactly Does Expungement Do?
Expungement has the effect of setting aside a criminal conviction, which permits the person to honestly tell potential employers and others that the individual has not been convicted of a crime. There are two important caveats. First, it is not automatic; expungement “is a privilege and conditional and is not a right.” Second, even an expunged criminal record can be used against a person for certain purposes. Even so, it is such a benefit in so many other ways that it’s well worth the effort.
May the Conviction be Expunged?
There are limits to expungement in three key areas. First, certain crimes are ineligible for expungement. Second, a person may have too many convictions. Third, there are waiting periods. A careful review of the law is important. Contact your team at NachtLaw to see if you are eligible to start the expungement process and have a “clean slate.”