A criminal record can hold you back for decades. A single assault conviction or drug possession charge could limit your educational and employment opportunities. Expungements are the legal process that allows people to seal the record of previous legal issues to move on with their lives.
Michigan has recently changed its expungement process, which could potentially help thousands of people with old criminal infractions on their record to move on with their lives.
What led to changes in state expungement rules?
Public pressure played a big part in helping reform expungement in Michigan. Last year, state lawmakers passed a bill aimed at changing expungement in Michigan to help give people a clean slate. After the governor signed it into law last fall, the changes officially go into effect on April 11, 2021.
How did the new law change the expungement process?
People can potentially expunge up to three felonies and an unlimited number of misdemeanor crimes, although there are still limitations on qualifying offenses. People will no longer have to wait as long to seek an expungement. Those who have a misdemeanor they want to remove only have to wait for three years after their release from incarceration, probation completion or their sentencing hearing, whichever is the last to happen.
Those with serious misdemeanors or a single felony have to wait five years, while those hoping to expunge multiple felonies will have to go without new criminal problems for at least seven years before they can apply for an expungement.
More offenses now qualify for expungement
Those with traffic-related criminal offenses including drunk driving convictions and even commercial license violations can also file for expungement.
The state has also taken a more liberal stance on marijuana misdemeanors by making a more streamlined process accessible for those with misdemeanor possession charges that are no longer criminal offenses under the new legalization statute. Finally, judges can now consider multiple offenses occurring in a 24-hour window to be a single offense for expungement purposes.
Those with a criminal record in Michigan could find that these new laws improve their access to expungements and give them more opportunities for a future if they have avoided additional criminal issues since their previous conviction.