Implications of Michigan Case on Pennsylvania

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | May 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

A criminal record is more than just an informational document. People with criminal records struggle to move on with their lives after serving out their sentences. These parties have a more difficult time securing work, applying for government assistance, and getting their lives back on track.

Michigan, however, recently took a step to make the lives of convicted criminals a little easier. The state's “Clean Slate” law took effect on April 11. This new legislation expands on existing Michigan law, which already allows for two misdemeanors or a single felony to be wiped from an offending party's record after five years.

Nowadays, the program is more generous. Michigan residents who have been convicted of misdemeanors, felonies, and non-violent crimes will have up to three applicable convictions automatically erased from their records after serving their sentences. None of these convictions may detail violent crimes. Similarly, parties convicted of the same crime twice or more are not eligible for the forgiveness program.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel specifically notes that parties convicted of marijuana offenses have the right to request that a judge consider expunging their record if their offenses took place after December 2018. Any party denied the right to expunge their record may apply for expungement again after a three-year waiting period.

The Finer Details

There are other aspects of the law that won't come into effect until 2022 and 2023. For example, the law notes that all non-violent misdemeanors recorded in the state will be erased from the applicable party's criminal record after seven years.

These parties, however, won't see changes implemented onto their record until next year or later. Similarly, parties with felonies on their records will see those notations erased after ten years, provided they've maintained a clear record since facing justice.

Setting a Precedent

The work done in Michigan sets a precedent for other states. At this point in time, Pennsylvania has its own clean state legislation in place. Any parties convicted of misdemeanors or summary offenses in the state can see those records sealed after ten years, provided that their records or otherwise clean. This legislation went into effect as of January 2021 and occurs via petition. Come November 2021, those parties convicted in the state may have their records automatically sealed, provided that they meet the state's requirement for relief.

Even so, the state may see fit to expand its expungement legislation. With Michigan leading the way, there may be a future in which states forgive minor, non-violent offenses with more regularity. In turn, those parties facing undue stigma for the mistakes of their past may have more opportunities to make a life for themselves on the straight and narrow.

Reaching Out For Help

Pennsylvania's clean slate legislation can be difficult to parse, especially without legal experience. Luckily, no one who wants to explore criminal expungements has to do so alone. Instead, interested parties can reach out to attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm. Schedule a case consultation by calling 888-535-3686 or by reaching out via the firm's online form.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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