Whitmer signs 'clean slate' bills reforming Michigan's expungement laws

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Posted at 1:11 PM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 13:11:18-04

(WXYZ) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan package of bills that reforms Michigan's criminal expungement laws on Monday.

House Bills 4980-4985 and 5120 will allow a person to set aside one or more marijuana offenses if the offense would not have been a crime after Dec. 6, 2018, when recreational marijuana use became legal in Michigan.

“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,” Whitmer 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. I am proud to sign these bills today alongside Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist and many of the bipartisan leaders who worked on them.”

The changes in the bills include:

  • Creating an automatic process for setting aside eligible misdemeanors after seven years and eligible non-assaultive felonies after 10 years
  • Expands the number and revises the type of felonies and misdemeanors eligible to be set aside
  • REvises waiting period before being eligible to apply
  • Treats 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, or involves possession or use of a dangerous weapon, or is a crime that carries penalty of 10 or more years in prison.
  • Expands expungement eligibility to various traffic offenses
  • Allow 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.

“This anti-poverty, pro-job opportunity Clean Slate legislation will reinvigorate the economic potential of hundreds of thousands of Michiganders whose records have hindered their availability to get a job or secure housing, and it will help us grow our workforce,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist added in the release. “This is the right thing to do on behalf of people everywhere who deserve another chance, and will help improve livelihoods. There is more work to do, but Michigan has now established itself as a leader in removing barriers to economic opportunity for people who have made mistakes. I will continue to stand tall for Michiganders across the state who need someone in their corner.”

“Everyone deserves the chance to build a good life for themselves and their families. But far too many people enter the criminal justice system and end up cut off from those opportunities and are pushed toward a cruel cycle of poverty and crime. That’s not right, and it creates bad outcomes for all of us,” House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) added. “These bills are an important step to righting that wrong and helping good people who’ve paid their debt get back on their feet. I am glad we were able to find common ground on this important issue and deliver reform that will help people statewide.”

“With the signing of these bills, Michigan becomes a national leader in empowering citizens to lead productive lives,” said Rep. David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids). “Michigan will be the first state in the nation to expunge some felonies automatically. I have planned to do everything I can to encourage other states to follow Michigan’s lead.”