Gov. Whitmer signs bills expanding criminal record expungement

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Courtesy state of Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan House Bills 4980-4985 and 5120 on Monday aimed to reform the state’s criminal expungement laws.

Under the new Clean Slate legislation, individuals who commit certain felonies and misdemeanors will have their records expunged. One of the changes in the legislation allows adults who have one or more marijuana offenses that would not have been a crime if it was committed after Dec. 6, 2018, when recreational marijuana use by adults became legal in the state, to have their records expunged.

“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. “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 (Monday) alongside Lt. Gov. (Garlin) Gilchrist and many of the bipartisan leaders who worked on them.”

The changes proposed by House Bills 4980-4985 and 5120 include the following:

  • Creates 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 types of felonies and misdemeanors eligible to be set aside by application.
  • Revises the waiting periods before being eligible to apply.
  • Treat 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 a 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,” Gilchrist said. “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.”

In May 2019, Whitmer signed into law bipartisan bills reforming civil asset forfeiture, limiting and in some cases ending, the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize a person’s property before that person has been judged and convicted.

Additionally,  Whitmer signed “Raise the Age” into law, which is an 18-bill package that increased the age of one who is legally considered an adult in the criminal justice system from 17 to 18 years old.

With the passage of “Raise the Age,” Michigan joined 46 other states in ending the unjust practice of charging and punishing children as adults when they make mistakes.

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