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Michigan bill would allow more convicts to expunge record

Should individuals convicted of certain crimes be able to expunge their criminal record in Michigan? Several lawmakers believe so and have introduced legislation that would allow more convicts the option to have their criminal record expunged.

The proposed bill would allow more individuals in Michigan to expunge a criminal conviction. Offenders who are able to have their conviction expunged would mean that their criminal record would not be available to the public but judges and law enforcement officials would still be able to access their criminal record. If the bill is passed, Michigan’s criminal justice system would see some changes.

Current state law allows people with a single conviction on their record to request expungement if it has been five years or longer after their sentencing or being released from prison. The proposed bill would allow more individuals to request expungement.

The bill would allow individuals with one felony conviction and no more than two misdemeanor convictions the opportunity to request expungement. Individuals would not be eligible to request expungement until five years after they have completed probation or parole requirements.

Not all convicts would be allowed to request expungement. Individuals convicted of crimes punishable by life sentences, most sex crimes, some domestic violence crimes, stalking and traffic offenses including drunk driving would not be eligible to be expunged from a person’s criminal record.

Supporters of the proposed bill say that it is very difficult for people with felony and certain misdemeanor convictions to find employment and even housing, leaving many offenders to rely on state assistance to make ends meet. Supporters say that allowing more people to request expungement, more convicts will be able to find jobs and housing.

While there is a lot of support for the bill, opponents are worried that it may impact a victim’s ability to pursue restitution for a crime because once a person’s record is expunged, victims cannot name the convict when seeking restitution.

Source: Michigan Live, “The invisible sentence? Michigan bill would allow more convicts to expunge criminal records,” Jonathan Oosting, May 9, 2013

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