Expungements of criminal convictions — Part II
On Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of bills, which created a new expungement law in Michigan.
These bills were passed by the legislature with wide bipartisan support and are called “Clean Slate” legislation because they substantially expand the number of criminal defendants who will be eligible to have their convictions expunged.
There are a number of significant provisions in the new law with the main one being “automatic expungements” of specific offenses.
As the name implies, rather than filing a motion with the court for an expungement after a certain period of time has elapsed, a defendant’s conviction will automatically be set aside with no other actions necessary subject to certain requirements.
These are a 10-year waiting period and no new pending offenses or convictions after sentencing for felonies carrying less than 10 years in prison, with the same requirements for seven years after sentencing for 93 day or more misdemeanors. The limit on these types of expungements is two felonies and four misdemeanors.
There is no limit on the number of automatic expungements for 92 days or less misdemeanors and only the time period requirements apply. This includes most traffic offenses.
A number of offenses can’t automatically be expunged, including life felonies, misdemeanors when there is a victim, and drunk driving.
Other new provisions include a change in the time periods to file expungement motions for
eligible offenses with the periods being seven, five, or three years depending on the severity of the crime.
Using this procedure, up to three felony convictions and an unlimited number of eligible misdemeanors can be expunged with a two-conviction limit on assaultive crimes.
There will be no waiting period for setting aside marijuana convictions if the conduct, which gave rise to the conviction would be legal under Michigan’s new Recreational Marijuana Law.
The law will take effect in 180 days after being enacted. The automatic expungement system is to be put in place in two years.
These are just the highlights. A full explanation of the bills can be found at the Michigan Legislature’s website.
A very informative Harvard Law Review article published in June concludes that defendants who have received expungements have a very low recidivism rate. It can be found at harvardlawreview.org/2020/06/expungement.