More Michigan citizens will be eligible to have some of the misdemeanors or felonies on their criminal record expunged, courtesy of the Clean Slate Act.
The act, which went into effect Sunday, allows individuals who committed low-level misdemeanor marijuana offenses and traffic offenses to apply for expungement.
However, offenses such as DUIs or offenses that cause injury or death, and offenses committed while operating a commercial vehicle are grounds for ineligibility.
Individuals who were convicted of one or more misdemeanors or local ordinance marijuana crimes that would not be crimes based on the 2018 voter initiative that resulted in the legalization of recreational marijuana use now can apply to have their criminal record expunged.
Those who have been convicted of one or more criminal offenses, including felonies and misdemeanors, but not more than a total of three felony offenses, may apply to the convicting court to have their records expunged with a few exceptions.
An individual cannot seek to expunge more than two assaultive crime convictions during his or her lifetime or seek to expunge more than one felony conviction for the same offense if it is punishable by more than 10 years’ incarceration.
“Having worked as a criminal defense attorney for more than a decade, I have encountered all sorts of people who have gotten themselves entangled in the criminal justice system,” said Sarissa Montague, criminal defense attorney at Kalamazoo-based Levine & Levine Attorneys at Law. “It is not uncommon for people, at certain times in their lives, particularly when they are young or going through a difficult time, to make a series of bad choices.
“For some people, this becomes a pattern throughout their lives; for others, it is just a blip. I have seen countless people who made bad choices but, some time thereafter, turned themselves around and never got into legal trouble again. Up until this point, until the passage of the Clean Slate Act, these people were forever stigmatized by their criminal convictions because there was no mechanism by which these convictions could be removed from their record.
“The Clean Slate Act provides an opportunity for people who have made the effort to better their lives to no longer be stigmatized by the decisions they made, years, if not decades, before.”