We explored the purpose and qualifications for expungement in a previous blog, but exciting new changes in the law will positively impact many people in the future, and are explained here. Keep reading to see if you qualify.
Expungement is the process in which a conviction is removed from one’s criminal record. Since a criminal conviction has other consequences beyond jail or prison time, like making it difficult to get a job, everyone should apply to expunge their convictions, if eligible, as soon as possible.
As you may have heard, a group of bipartisan lawmakers proposed a package of bills called the Clean Slate Legislation, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed all six bills into law on October 13, 2020. Five of the six bills will take effect on April 10, 2021, and the remaining bill, the one that automatically expunges convictions, will take effect on October 13, 2022.
The Clean Slate Bill creates an automatic expungement system which will take effect on October 13, 2022. The system will automatically expunge misdemeanors seven years after sentencing, and felonies 10 years after sentencing or release from incarceration (whichever comes later), without requiring individuals to apply for an expungement. Individuals may automatically expunge up to 2 felonies and 4 misdemeanors. Crimes not eligible for automatic expungement include:
- violent crimes
- “crimes of dishonesty” (ie forgery/fraud)
- crimes punishable by more than 10 years in prison, and
- other serious crimes such as human trafficking.
Ask a qualified expungement attorney for assistance to see if you qualify.
Another bill, House Bill 4984, expands the number of convictions eligible for expungement. The new law will allow an individual to apply if he has three or fewer felonies – misdemeanors no longer limit an individual’s qualification for expungement! This will allow for up to three felonies and an unlimited number of misdemeanors to be expunged via application. The only exceptions to applying for expungement are:
- A maximum of two convictions for an assaultive crime can be set aside.
- Only one felony where the maximum penalty was 10 years can be set aside.
What about marijuana and drunk driving convictions?
House Bill 4982 streamlines the expungement process for marijuana misdemeanors. After applying to expunge those marijuana misdemeanor(s), the prosecuting attorney who prosecuted the case has to prove the crime would still have been a crime if it occurred after adult use marijuana was legalized in 2018. If the prosecutor fails to satisfy this burden or does not oppose the individual’s expungement, the convictions are set aside!
Also, currently sitting on the Governor’s desk is Senate Bill 1254. This bill, if signed into law, would allow those who have one drunk driving conviction to petition to have that conviction removed from their record, starting April 2021
Who’s got the time?
House Bill 4983 changes the time an individual needs to wait before filing to expunge either a misdemeanor or felony. Most misdemeanors may be expunged after 3 years but serious misdemeanors or a single felony will still require an individual to wait 5 years before applying. And if an individual wishes to expunge more than one felony, his waiting period will increase from 5 to 7 years.
But, amazingly, House Bill 4985 changes the system’s treatment of misdemeanors or felonies from the same 24 hour period – all convictions within that time period will be treated as one conviction for the purposes of expungement. That means if you were convicted of multiple crimes from the same incident, they will only count as one conviction!
There’s always an exception, right?
Unfortunately yes, House Bill 4981 bars certain crimes from expungement. Crimes ineligible for expungement include: crimes that may bring a life sentence, domestic violence, traffic offenses where someone was seriously injured or was killed, child abuse, sexual assault, and driving while intoxicated.
Also, some crimes are not eligible for automatic expungement, as previously stated, you should still consult an attorney to see if you are eligible.
Still a game-changer!
These six bills are a game-changer for Michigan citizens. In fact, Michigan now becomes the fifth state for automatic expungement of misdemeanors and the first state to include low-level felonies in the automatic expungement system. At White Law PLLC, we are committed to keeping up with these exciting new changes in the law, helping you navigate the system if you need assistance, and hopefully wiping your record clean.