Most people deserve a second chance. That’s the premise behind Michigan’s new “Clean Slate” laws, which are intended to allow some adult and juvenile residents an opportunity to clear their criminal records of nonviolent crimes.
How Michigan's Clean Slate laws work
The new laws were approved last fall and took effect on April 11, 2021. Court and law enforcement authorities have two years to secure funding and develop plans for automatically setting aside some offenses (other offenses require people to file an application). This means automatic “set asides” will not occur until April 2023, at the earliest.
Program highlights include:
- Creating an automatic process for setting aside eligible misdemeanors after seven years and eligible non-assaultive felonies after 10 years (will not be implemented until April 2023).
- Expanding and revising the types of eligible felonies and misdemeanors that can be set aside by application.
- Revising waiting periods for applying.
- Treating multiple felonies or misdemeanor offenses arising from the same crime as a single felony or misdemeanor conviction under certain conditions. The offenses must have occurred within 24 hours of one another and cannot involve assaults, possession or use of a dangerous weapon, or a crime with a penalty of 10 or more years in prison.
- Expanding eligibility to some traffic offenses.
- Allowing petitions to set aside marijuana offenses if the offense would not have been a crime if committed after the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana use by adults.
The benefits and how to apply
Setting aside a criminal record is often called expungement. This allows people more opportunities to find good jobs and to secure safe and affordable housing. The result is stronger families, communities, and local economies across the state, as well as the promotion of public safety. A study was conducted by University of Michigan Law School professors. They found people whose criminal records were expunged experience “a sharp upturn in their wage and employment trajectories.”
Under the law, adults must follow a process that determines their eligibility. This is based on the nature of their crimes, the number of convictions, whether they were convicted of two or more assaults, deferred and dismissed convictions, high misdemeanors, counting multiple convictions as one (the “One Bad Night Rule”), traffic and marijuana convictions, and other legal factors. Adults must obtain a copy of their record, file an application, and appear for a hearing before a judge. Waiting periods also apply.
For juveniles wishing to set aside convictions (in their case called adjudications), the process takes into account the person’s age, the time since the adjudication, the number of adjudications, and the type of offense. Juveniles must obtain a copy of their record, file an application and appear in court before a judge who will rule on their case.
An attorney can help you navigate new laws and procedures
Any new law is open to interpretation, appeals, and modifications through the court system, seemingly on a case-by-case basis. If you are an adult or juvenile trying to apply through the Clean Slate program, you won't be the only person with questions. A simple mistake or misunderstanding, however, on either your part or the part of the people overseeing the program, could place unnecessary roadblocks in your path.
At Manley & Manley, our criminal defense lawyers boast more than 70 years of combined experience. Our dedicated legal team aggressively serves clients in Flint, Genesee County, and throughout Michigan, and our attorneys know the state and local laws, courts, and judges. Let us see if we can help you so that you can start to put your life back in order. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.