Michigan Becomes the First State to Automatically Expunge Felonies
Governor Whitmer has signed bills that will wipe certain felonies and misdemeanors off a person’s record. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle worked together to make Michigan the first state in the nation to expunge some felonies automatically.
The reforming of Michigan’s criminal expungement laws would allow a person to set aside one or more marijuana offenses if the offense would not have been a crime after recreational use by adults became legal in the state.
“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,” said Governor Whitmer.
Research conducted by the University of Michigan law school, which was recently published by the Harvard Law Review, found that people who receive expungements see a 23% increase in income within a year. This means more resources for families and communities, and a broader tax base, without any negative impact on public safety.
The changes go far beyond just marijuana-related convictions.
- 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.
“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,” said Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield. “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.”