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New criminal expungement law takes effect

Judge's gavel with books on a desk

A new law makes it easier for people to have criminal convictions erased from their records. The law allows the expungement to take place automatically in many cases, rather than requiring someone to formally request it from a court. The new law also allows more people to apply to courts to have their records cleared.

“These are offenses that we characterize as indiscretions, as opposed to things like violent offenses and things that develop a pattern,” said State Court Administrator Thomas Boyd. The former judge says this means a second chance for thousands of people who committed non-violent offenses, including teens and young adults.

“They’re just not done growing up,” he said. “So, people who made a series of bad decisions between the ages of 17 and 25 before their brain fully developed have an opportunity under Michigan law to grow up and put their youthful indiscretions behind them.”

A clean criminal record will make it easier for people to find jobs and housing. 

Courts and law enforcement will still have access to criminal records that are not available to the general public.

The bill was adopted by the Legislature and sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer with Republican and Democratic support. Whitmer signed the bill in an event hailed as an example of bipartisanship in an otherwise polarized environment.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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