Oakland County Program Helps Expunge Certain Convictions

Oakland County Clean Slate Program Helps Expunge Certain Convictions

(Oakland County, June 8, 2021)

Pontiac, MI – Oakland County and its Michigan Works! agency has launched a new program that enables county residents with criminal convictions to have specific offenses expunged from their public record, opening the door to find better jobs, housing and educational opportunities.

The Oakland County Clean Slate Program provides free legal assistance to eligible individuals seeking expungement.

To start the process, individuals should complete an online Request for Services at www.oakgov.com/cleanslate.

After this information is submitted, a program representative will contact the person with more details on their eligibility.

“This program clearly has the potential to help some of our residents pursue full time employment without the worry of being turned away because of past mistakes,” said Oakland County Executive David Coulter. “Clean Slate is a win-win for both our returning residents and employers, who were already facing a shortage of people to hire before the COVID-19 hit the county last year. That scarcity of workers has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

Statewide only 6.5 percent of eligible residents take advantage of the expungement process, according to a 2019 University of Michigan report, “Expungement of Criminal Convictions: An Empirical Study.”

The lack of participation in the expungement process, according to the study, is due to a shortage of information on how it works, time constraints, costs, a general distrust in the criminal justice system and lack of legal counsel.

Those who complete the expungement process, however, earn an average 25 percent increase in wages within two years.

The Oakland County Clean Slate Program is being funded through a $314,500 allocation from the state of Michigan. A total of $4 million is being awarded to all 16 Michigan Works! agencies throughout the state. These funds cover staff time, documentation and court fees associated with the expungement process. The program is currently scheduled to run through June 2022.

 

Up to three felony convictions may be expunged after seven years (only two may be for assaultive crimes and no more than one felony conviction for the same offense if the offense is punishable by more than 10 years imprisonment).

An unlimited number of misdemeanor convictions may be expunged after three years.

Serious misdemeanors and one felony conviction may be expunged after five years.

Various traffic offenses may be expunged.

A person can petition to set aside misdemeanor marijuana offenses if they would not have been a crime after recreational use was legalized.

Multiple felonies or misdemeanors arising from the same 24-hour period are treated as one conviction for the purposes of expungement (none of the offenses can be assaultive, involve the use or possession of a dangerous weapon, or carry a maximum penalty of 10 or more years in prison).

Convictions that cannot be expunged from a criminal record include:

-Felonies that carry a maximum punishment of life in prison

-Attempt to commit a felony for which the maximum punishment is life

-Felony domestic violence (if the person had a previous domestic violence misdemeanor)

-Child abuse

-Most criminal sexual conduct offenses

-DUI and traffic offenses causing injury or death

The Clean Slate Initiative is a national bipartisan coalition advancing policies to automatically clear all eligible criminal records across the United States. It reports one in three Americans has a criminal record, which can include misdemeanors. Nearly 90 percent of employers conduct background checks and some industries bar hiring individuals with criminal convictions. The exclusion of this segment of the population in the workforce costs the U.S. economy an estimate $87 billion annually in lost GDP, according to the organization.

“We’re so excited to be launching this program, which we expect will truly have a positive impact on so many people and employers,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, director, Oakland County Michigan Works! “Expunging certain felonies and misdemeanors provides new career opportunities for people but also has a significant impact on the size of the labor market and pool of job candidates available to employers in Oakland County and across Southeast Michigan.”

To start the process, individuals should complete an online Request for Services at www.oakgov.com/cleanslate. There has been a high number of responses, so participants should expect a delay in processing.

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