Everyone knows that having a prior criminal conviction can affect your ability to get a job, sometimes apply for student loans, and even prevent your license from being suspended. Now that could all change. Michigan is proposing that everyone, with some exceptions, could get their record automatically expunged after 10 years without any further convictions. In Wayne County alone, the bills would make about 180,000 more people eligible for expungement.
House Bills 4980-85 and 5120
Research by bridgemi.com reports that: “Expungements — which makes certain criminal offenses invisible to the public while remaining visible to police and prosecutors — improves access higher wages and better jobs too without threatening public safety. But the process can seem like an impossible maze for people who can’t afford a lawyer.”
An individual’s records follow them for life. Employers are much less likely to hire people with criminal records and many specifically screen against former offenders. People with records can have a harder time getting financial aid, housing, occupational licenses, and public benefits. And these consequences disproportionately affect people of color, who are more likely and unfairly to be charged with criminal offenses by police and prosecutors. Research at University of Michigan found that expungement can make a difference: Wages rose an average of 23 percent in one year after Michigan residents had an offense expunged. That is amazing!
The New Legislation would:
Open the process to those with three felonies and any number of misdemeanors.
Shorten wait times for applications to three years for misdemeanors, five for felonies and seven for multiple felonies.
Automatically expunge up to two felonies after 10 years and four misdemeanors after seven years for those who have stayed crime-free — no application required. Violent crimes and “crimes of dishonesty” such as fraud or embezzlement are ineligible.
Make most traffic offenses eligible for expungement.
Require judges to set aside misdemeanor marijuana offenses that would otherwise be legal under the new adult-marihuana possession law within around 80 days of receiving the application if prosecutors don’t object.
Make multiple offenses surrounding one crime count as a single offense, excluding violent crimes or those punishable by 10 or more years.
Keep the expunged records shielded from the public, employers or landlords, but available to law enforcement. Bridgemi.com (2019)
Recently, I was able to remove a criminal conviction from one of my client’s record and it was one the most satisfying experiences of my professional career. They can now work without the stigma of something that happened to them 20 years ago when they were 17. It changed their life.
Call me if you want to discuss the implications of this new law and I will keep you informed on whether the Michigan Senate is likely to pass the legislation soon.
Take care and do not let the government take advantage of you….Ever!!
Scott Weinberg, Esq
Former Prosecuting Attorney
Criminal Defense Attorney