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Michigan Legislature approves automatic expungement bills: What it means

The Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing
The Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing

Michigan would automatically expunge the criminal records of hundreds of thousands of residents under sweeping “clean slate” bills that received final legislative approval on Thursday.

The process, which would begin in approximately 2 1/2 years, would be automated — so people convicted of crimes would not have to apply. They would be eligible seven years after their misdemeanor sentence and, in the case of a felony, 10 years after their sentence or prison term, whichever occurred last.

Those with certain misdemeanor or felony convictions would not be eligible. The six-bill package also would let people with misdemeanor pot convictions clear the offenses beginning in January if they would not have been crimes before voters' legalization of marijuana in 2018.

In Michigan, an expungement — or set aside — clears the public record of a conviction so it does not appear in a background check. Law enforcement still keeps a non-public record, but no longer have to disclose their past on job applications or other forms.

“The changes we’re making are going to solidify our state as a national leader in criminal justice reform,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Graham Filler, a DeWitt Republican. “Making expungement cheaper, easier and available to more residents than ever before will remove the barriers that hold too many people back.”