Thousands of Detroiters will soon be eligible for expungement in April after legislation signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in October 2020, and Mayor Mike Duggan is encouraging eligible Detroiters to apply now to give Detroiters the best chance for quick review and expungement.
Duggan hopes to process 1,000 applications in the first year after the new law kicks in.
Last October, the Michigan legislature approved a bill that significantly expanded the number of residents eligible to have criminal offenses expunged from their record. That bill, which takes effect April 11, received broad Republican and Democratic support and was quickly signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, opening new doors of possibility to thousand of Detroit residents and Michiganders
Today, Mayor Mike Duggan, who advocated for the bill passage and attended the bill signing, thanked Whitmer and legislators on both sides of the aisle for their commitment to giving residents a chance to finally put behind them their past mistakes and start with a clean slate.
Among the primary changes in the new law are:
- Expungement no longer restricted applicants to one felony over a lifetime. In many cases, those with 2-3 felonies and a five-year clean record are now eligible.
- Expungement is no longer limited to only misdemeanors over a lifetime.
- Expungement is now available for the first time for traffic offenses (other than DWI and traffic accidents involving death)
Don’t wait. Apply today.
While the effective date of the new bill is not until April, Mayor Duggan today urged all eligible Detroiters to begin the application process at www.detroitmi.gov/projectcleanslate so they have everything in order when the court starts considering new expungement requests.
”Thousands of Detroiters have lived for too long with this obstacle to opportunity, and we don’t want them to have to wait a day longer than necessary to have that barrier removed,” said Duggan. ”If you start the process today, our team of lawyers will get right to work for you, so you can be ready to have your case heard as quickly as possible after April 11th and start again with a clean slate.”
Duggan was joined today by members of the City Council and the Detroit Police Department to kick-off an aggressive campaign to encourage Detroiters to apply for expungement now via Project Clean Slate (PCS) in advance of new legislation taking effect in April. Under expanded legislation, more than twice as many Detroiters are now eligible to have their records cleared starting April 11, when the new law takes effect.
Duggan said he hopes the city will be able to process 1,000 expungements in the first year after the law takes effect in April. Last year, PCS staff helped about 300 Detroiters clear their records.
Anyone interested in having their record expunged can follow this simple five-step process, which will take between six months to nine months:
- Visit detroitmi.gov/projectcleanslate to begin the registration process. Residents can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 313-237-3024 and leave a voicemail. All calls will be returned within five business days. PCS staff will review your eligibility.
- If PCS determines you are eligible, PCS will make an appointment for you to be fingerprinted free of charge so staff can verify your identity and request your police and court records. Each applicant is required to have their fingerprints taken for verification purposes.
- Your city attorneys will file your Application to set aside your convictions with the court.
- Approximately 90 days later, you will attend a hearing represented by your PCS attorney.
- Approximately 4-6 weeks after the hearing, you will receive a notice of your expunged conviction.
The PCS team handles all steps of the expungement process – from preparing the expungement application, ordering court records, preparing residents for the hearing, and attending the hearing.
“As chair of the RCTF and the daughter of a returning citizen, this issue is close to my heart and something I’ve worked on throughout my time in office,” said councilmember Janee Ayers. “It’s been an honor to partner with Project Clean Slate in continuing to do this work. I am thrilled at the new legislation being passed regarding expungements and for the many Detroiters this will help.”
Since the program began in 2016 under existing laws, more than 6,700 Detroiters applied, however, only 12% of them were eligible under previous rules. Even for those who were eligible, many did not seek expungement because they either did not know they were eligible or how to navigate the process. So, the city created Project Clean Slate, (PCS) which provides a legal team to help eligible residents through the process. ,
The program is only open to city of Detroit residents and proof of Detroit residency must be provided. Other requirements include:
- No more than three felony convictions (no more than 2 assaultive, with exclusions).
- No operating while intoxicated, no traffic causing injury/death, no traffic if have CDL.
- Depending on the type of offense, the incident must have taken place either three, five, or seven years prior. PCS staff will go through each offense with their clients.
- Under the new legislation, multiple offenses that occurred as part of the same incident may be treated as one conviction (with some exceptions).
For one Project Clean Slate client, expungement has meant a wage increase from $10/hour to $26/hour. For others, it means going back to school to pursue previously unattainable career goals. And for some, it might mean shedding a life-long stigma of being able to chaperone their child on a field trip.
In the words of one PCS client, “My life changed completely. I have more respect for myself. My family is so proud of me. Today, I am going forward in life without having to worry about my conviction. Today, I am a free man.”
With the new law soon to take effect, Project Clean Slate is scaling up to meet the demand created by the new legislation. PCS also is retaining additional legal support through partnership and financial support from the following organizations and individuals:
- The Bendit Fund
- Mark Bernstein and Rachel Bendit
- BSP Law Charitable Foundation
- Hudson-Webber Foundation
- Sam Bernstein Law Firm
- The Simon Foundation
- The Song Foundation
Residents should visit www.detroitmi.gov/projectcleanslate to register.