Attorney: ‘Clean Slate’ will eliminate barriers caused by old convictions

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Parts of Michigan’s new ‘Clean Slate’ act, which eases the pathway to expungements for certain crimes, went into effect Sunday.

The aspects of the the legislation that launched Sunday expanded the number and types of felonies that can be wiped from records, and limited the period between when someone is convicted and when the expungement process can begin.

“This is a really big deal and really an amazing thing for people who have gotten in trouble in the past but are no longer making bad choices that bring them into the criminal justice system,” Sarissa Montague, a criminal defense attorney with law firm Levine & Levine in Kalamazoo, said. “And they’ve made changes and haven’t made mistakes in a number of years, and so this gives them the opportunity to move forward with their lives…”

She noted specifically that the law makes it much easier for people convicted of having marijuana — which is now legal in Michigan — to get those convictions set aside.

She said the legislation will help people to get jobs, lower their insurance rates and back to a normal life.

“I think it’s really difficult for people who have criminal convictions on their records. Often times, the criminal conviction is a barrier to getting jobs. It’s a barrier to housing. It’s a barrier to business loans, maybe college loans,” Montague explained to News 8. “And so having the convictions set aside really impacts a lot, particularly for people’s families” and parents.

After the Clean Slate law is fully implemented in April 2023, it will automatically wipe some misdemeanors from records after seven years and some non-assaultive felonies after a decade. The changes are expected to help about 1 million people.

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