Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan House Bills 4980-4985 and 5120 reforming Michigan’s criminal expungement laws making it easier for people who have committed certain felonies and misdemeanors to have their record expunged. Changes in the bills include allowing a person to set aside one or more marijuana offenses if the offense would not have been a crime if committed after December 6, 2018 when recreational marijuana use by adults became legal in the state, due to the referendum that voters approved to legalize marijuana in 2018. During her 2018 campaign for governor, Governor Whitmer made expungement for marijuana convictions one of her key priorities, and today she is following through on that promise.
“This is a historic day in Michigan. These bipartisan bills are a game changer for people who are seeking opportunities for employment, housing, and more, and they will help ensure a clean slate for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders,” said Governor Whitmer.
“This anti-poverty, pro-job opportunity Clean Slate legislation will reinvigorate the economic potential of hundreds of thousands of Michiganders whose records have hindered their availability to get a job or secure housing, and it will help us grow our workforce,” said Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II.
Research conducted by the University of Michigan law school, which was recently published by the Harvard Law Review, found that people who receive expungements see a 23% increase in income within a year. This means more resources for families and communities, and a broader tax base, without any negative impact on public safety.
The changes proposed by House Bills 4980-4985 and 5120 include the following:
• Creates an automatic process for setting aside eligible misdemeanors after seven years and eligible non-assaultive felonies after 10 years.
• Expands the number and revises the types of felonies and misdemeanors eligible to be set aside by application.
• Revises the waiting periods before being eligible to apply.
• Treat multiple felonies or misdemeanor offenses arising from the same transaction as a single felony or misdemeanor conviction, provided the offenses happened within 24 hours of one another and are not assaultive crimes, or involves possession or use of a dangerous weapon, or is a crime that carries penalty of 10 or more years in prison.
• Expands expungement eligibility to various traffic offenses
• Allow a person to petition to set aside one or more marijuana offenses if the offense would not have been a crime if committed after the use of recreational marijuana by adults became legal in the state.
Governor Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist have been committed to enacting criminal justice reforms since the day they took office. In April of 2019, Governor Whitmer created the bipartisan Michigan Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist and Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, which reviewed the state’s jail and court data to expand alternatives to jail, safely reduce jail admissions and length of stay, and improve the effectiveness of the front end of Michigan’s justice system. The task force has produced a report and made recommendations.
In May of 2019, Governor Whitmer signed into law, bipartisan bills reforming “Civil Asset Forfeiture,” limiting and in some cases ending the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize a person’s property before that person has been judged and convicted. Additionally, Governor Whitmer signed “Raise the Age” into law which was an 18-bill package that increased the age of who is legally considered a juvenile or an adult in the criminal justice system from 17 to 18 years old With the passage of “Raise the Age,” Michigan joined 46 other states in ending the unjust practice of charging and punishing children as adults when they make mistakes.