Healthy, Safe & Thriving Communities

Everyone should have a safe and healthy community to call home. We all want to live in a place where everyone can find a job with a fair wage and secure safe and affordable housing. But for hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents, this simple dream is out of reach.

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Email or call us at info@safeandjustmi.org or 517.482.7753 with your interest to co-sponsor an event.

Clean Slate for Michigan Implementation

Question: What does the new “Clean Slate” law do?

Answer: The new law expands eligibility to petition for an expungement in several ways, and creates a new process that will automatically seal certain non-violent conviction records if a person has remained conviction-free for a period of time (seven years for misdemeanors, 10 years for felonies).  

Question: When will the new law become effective?

Answer: There are different answers for the bills related to the petition process and the automatic expungement.

  • Expanded eligibility to petition (H.B. 4981-85 & 5120): These bills become effective 180 days from the day they are signed by the governor.  Because they were signed on October 12, 2020, the effective date of these bills is April 11, 2021.
  • Automatic Expungement (H.B. 4980): This bill has a two-year implementation period.  That means the earliest it will become effective is December 30, 2022.

Question: How long will it take for the court to process my petition?

Answer: Processing times vary from court to court, but it is not uncommon for the petition process to take 6 months or more to complete.  Many courts schedule the hearing on the petition three months or more after the filing date to allow the State Police and Attorney General’s office to complete the required background check and statutory eligibility analysis.  If these steps are not completed before the scheduled hearing date, the hearing will need to be rescheduled.  In addition, processing times may also be impacted by hearing backlogs that have accumulated in many courts during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please contact the relevant court or a local legal services provider with specific questinos about processing times.

Resources

There are a number of free resources available for people who need a lawyer or legal advice.  We recommend the free resources produced by Michigan Legal Help, and the free legal services provided by Legal Aid (generally for people whose income is <200% of the federal poverty line).  Michigan Legal Help also offers a lawyer referral service for those that are interested and may not qualify for assistance from Legal Aid.

Michigan Legal Help (https://michiganlegalhelp.org/)

Expungement resources (including online eligibility tool): https://michiganlegalhelp.org/self-help-tools/crime-traffic-and-id/i-have-adult-criminal-conviction-i-would-set-aside-expunge 

Intake for Legal Aid via Michigan Legal Help

Online: https://michiganlegalhelp.org/call_intake_intro

Phone: Phone intake is available through the Counsel and Advocacy Law Line (CALL) at 1-888-783-8190.  Operates Monday through Thursday between 9:00am – 5:00pm (and until 6:00 on Wednesday only), or Friday between 9:00am – 1:00pm.

Legal Aid

Find your local legal aid: https://www.michbar.org/public_resources/legalaid 

Project Clean Slate (free expungement services for Detroit residents)

To register online: https://detroitmi.gov/departments/law-department/project-clean-slate

Other ways to contact: Project Clean Slate, 2 Woodward Avenue, Suite 500 Detroit, MI 48226, (313) 237-3024, Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm, projectcleanslate@detroitmi.gov

Oakland County MichiganWorks!

Oakland County Michigan Works!  launched a  program to help eligible county residents expunge certain criminal convictions from their record.  To start the process, individuals should complete an online Request for Services at www.oakgov.com/cleanslate. After this information is submitted, a program representative will contact the person with more details on their eligibility.

Petition processing times

Processing times vary from court to court, but it is not uncommon for the petition process to take 6 months or more to complete.  Many courts schedule the hearing on the petition three months or more after the filing date to allow the State Police and Attorney General’s office to complete the required background check and statutory eligibility analysis.  If these steps are not completed before the scheduled hearing date, the hearing will need to be rescheduled.  In addition, processing times may also be impacted by hearing backlogs that have accumulated in many courts during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please contact the relevant court or a local legal services provider with specific questions about processing times.

Second Chances

All of us value a second chance when we’re given one. But for people who have a criminal record, that second chance often seems elusive. They were told they had to pay their debt to society – with the implication that once that debt is paid, their punishment would be over. But after they are released from jail, prison or probation, many of them continue to pay for their mistakes. Many landlords won’t rent apartment or homes to them, and many employers refuse to even look at a job application after a job seeker checks a box acknowledging that they have a criminal record. As a result, many people continue to pay for their mistakes for decades — even if they never had another run-in with the law.

While there was a process to have a criminal record cleared in Michigan, it was not available to everyone–only someone with a limited criminal record (one felony or two misdemeanors*) and who was five years from the end of their sentence could apply.  Also, many offenses were excluded from expungement, including traffic offenses.

Even people who did qualify for an expungement faced significant challenges. The process of clearing a criminal record took months, and involved complex eligibility rules, fees, fingerprinting, appearing before a judge, and facing potential challenges from prosecutors and crime survivors. That’s why nearly 95 percent of people eligible for expungement didn’t even apply. The automatic expungement process removes all these barriers for those with non-assaultive offenses.

If more people can get their criminal records expunged, more people will have the opportunity to find good jobs and secure safe and affordable housing.  This will help strengthen families, communities, local economies across the state, and promote public safety.

Definitions:

Expungement: The elimination of arrests and convictions from a person’s public criminal record. Strictly speaking, when a record is expunged, a criminal past is excluded from view from everyone. However, in Michigan, “expungement” means that law enforcement and the courts can continue to see someone’s criminal history, while employers, landlords and other members of the general public cannot (see “record sealing”).

Record Sealing: Setting aside or sealing a criminal record so that it is hidden from view of the general public, but still visible to law enforcement and the courts.

Why Clean Slate for Michigan is important

Having a criminal record can prevent people from getting a good-paying job, obtaining safe and affordable housing or even getting into a college or job training program. Many employers and landlords have policies that exclude hiring or leasing apartments to people with a criminal history. An expungement shields those convictions from public view, while allowing police and courts to still view the information.

While an existing expungement process existed in Michigan, it was limited in eligibility, expensive to complete and confusing to navigate. As a result, fewer than 7 percent of all people who qualified for an expungement even attempted to obtain one. However, great benefits awaited those who did — a University of Michigan study found that wages rose an average of about 25 percent within two years after getting an expungement.

Here are stories why Clean Slate is important: