State Lawmakers Move Forward With “Clean Slate” Legislation

Sep 24, 2020

Michigan lawmakers are moving forward with so-called “clean slate legislation.”

The bills would make it easier to expunge criminal records for low-level offenses.

The legislation would require the state to automatically expunge the records of some offenders after a certain amount of time had passed without re-offending. 

The bills would require the expungement of a felony offense after ten years and a misdemeanor offense after seven years. 

The legislation would also cap expungements at two felony convictions and four misdemeanor convictions over a person’s lifetime. 

Eligibility for convictions to be expunged is removed when someone has been convicted of more than one assaultive crime.

Democratic State Senator Jeff Irwin worked on the package. 

“That will provide relief for maybe a million people in the state who have offenses for extremely petty crimes,” he said. “The big ones are driving with license suspended, driving without insurance, cannabis user possession. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people who have a record for those kinds of petty crimes.”

Irwin introduced additional legislation to the package to offer the same automatic expungement to juvenile offenders. 

“What it is is a clean slate for kids. It can affect people’s applications for financial aid. It can affect people’s applications for housing. It doesn’t make sense for us to take folks who have already stumbled to make it even harder to reintegrate in our communities.”

Irwin’s legislation would expunge low-level juvenile offenses either two years after court supervision ended, or when a person turned 18, whichever comes later. Irwin’s two bills were co-sponsored by Republican Peter Lucido. 

“We’re trying to give folks, particularly folks, who have committed a low-level offense and have shown for many years that they can stay out of trouble that we won’t hold it against them,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish with this - we’re trying to make sure it doesn’t stick with people forever in those cases.”

The package has strong bipartisan support. It has passed through the Senate and is awaiting final approval in the house before moving on to the governor’s desk.