A new proposed law would allow more people to erase criminal convictions from their records. The process for clearing the record is called an expungement.
Right now, a person can expunge either a felony or two misdemeanors after five years from the end of the sentence. A person with more on the record is not eligible for any expungement. Not all types of convictions can be expunged.
What Would The New Law Do?
There are six proposed bills in all. Here is a list of possible changes:
Expand the number of convictions eligible for expungement: A person with three felonies and any number of misdemeanors could expunge all convictions, so long as none are crimes involving an assault. A person with an assaultive conviction could expunge up to two felonies and four misdemeanors. Certain convictions could not be expunged, including criminal sexual conduct charges and murder.
Automatic expungement in some cases: Convictions would automatically be cleared after 10 years from end of sentence. This would not happen if the convictions are felonies punishable by ten years or more, assaultive convictions, or serious misdemeanors. It probably would not include at least certain traffic offenses such operating while intoxicated. Restitution must have been paid for automatic expungement.
Expungements for marijuana convictions: A bill would allow the expungement of marijuana convictions for actions that would be legal under today’s law. People could petition a judge for the expungement. In a different bill, those expungements would be automatic.
Expungements for multiple convictions arising out of one incident: This would allow the expungement for convictions of multiple offenses from “one bad night.” However, this would not apply if any there were a conviction for an assault, possession of a weapon, or for a felony punishable by ten years or more.
Traffic Offenses: Potential bill would allow for expungement of some traffic offenses. Operating while intoxicated (drunk driving) and traffic violations resulting in serious injury or death would not be included. Right now, expungement for traffic offenses is not possible.
Shortening of period for misdemeanor expungements: Non-serious misdemeanor convictions can be expunged after three years. A serious misdemeanor or one felony could be expunged after five years. An application to set aside a conviction could be filed after seven years.
The Effect of these Bills
Expanding people’s ability to clear old convictions is a great proposal. In one estimate, these laws would benefit 100,000 people in Wayne County alone. Under the current law, a common situation is a person want to expunge an old conviction, but they can’t because they have too many convictions for driving on a suspended license or other traffic offense.
Another common situation is here a person is ineligible for an expungement because of the “one bad night.” The person had several convictions for really one incidence – those convictions prevent an expungement of any convictions.
People deserve a second chance. A person who successfully completes probation or a sentence of imprisonment doesn’t deserve to have the conviction then follow them around for the rest of their life and prevent employment. How many people were denied jobs in this country because of old marijuana convictions?
Sam Bernstein is an Ann Arbor Criminal Defense Lawyer.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.
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