Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan
LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder today signed legislation giving judges more discretion to look at cases individually when deciding whether to clear criminal records.
Under current law, courts may not clear a person's criminal records if he or she committed more than one offense. Senate Bill 159, sponsored by state Sen. Rick Jones, a former sheriff, gives judges the ability to expunge a person's criminal record even if there are up to two additional minor offenses on it.
A minor offense is defined as a misdemeanor or ordinance violation with a maximum 90-day penalty and maximum $1,000 fine that was committed when the individual was 21 or younger. Serious crimes such as murder and rape cannot be expunged.
"We don't want to have situations where responsible adults are being held back from holding good jobs and being productive citizens because they can't pass a criminal background check during the hiring process due to offenses committed in their youth," the governor said. "This legislation gives judges the ability to consider whether an individual has turned his or her life around and avoided further wrongdoing."
The legislation, which is supported by prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys, was approved by lawmakers with strong bipartisan support. With this change, individuals must still wait at least five years before they may ask a court to clear their criminal record.
S.B. 159 is now Public Act 64 of 2011.