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Nonviolent Michigan Offenders Can Seek Expungement Under New Law

A recently-enacted Michigan law allows an offender convicted of a nonviolent felony or two misdemeanors to ask a judge to expunge their criminal record. The expungement bill had been in the works for several years before it was passed in a lame-duck session in December 2014.

The new statute amends current law, which previously allowed for the expungement of crimes committed by those under age 18. After Governor Rick Snyder signed the legislation on January 12, 2015, offenders of all ages can now ask a judge to expunge their record five years after completing their sentence, including any term of parole or probation.

While the bill was being heard, many people testified about the difficulties they experienced in finding employment due to having a felony record, even if it was minor or decades old. It was that issue that Governor Snyder addressed when signing the legislation into law.

“We don’t want to have situations where responsible adults are being held back from holding good jobs and being productive citizens because they can’t pass a criminal background check during the hiring process due to offenses committed in their youth,” he said. “This legislation gives judges the ability to consider whether an individual has turned his or her life around and avoided further wrongdoing.”

The amended statute, codified at MCL 780.621, does not allow expungement for a number of specified crimes, including any felony for which the maximum sentence is life in prison; second- or third-degree criminal sexual conduct; production or possession of child pornography; traffic offenses, including DUI; and human trafficking and terrorism-related offenses, among others.

If an offender petitions to have their record expunged and the petition is denied, they must wait three years before filing another expungement request.

Sources: Detroit Free Press,

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