SEMCA Michigan Works! providing free legal assistance to expunge criminal record for eligible job seekers


SEMCA Michigan Works! has created a Clean Slate Expungement Program for residents of Monroe and Wayne Counties (excluding the City of Detroit). Eligible residents can have their past criminal convictions expunged which would open a wide range of possibilities in employment, housing and education for people who apply and are approved. According to Greg Pitoniak SEMCA CEO, “The Clean Slate program is yet another opportunity for SEMCA to fulfill its primary mission of helping individuals obtain a job and employers to find the talent they need.” Clean Slate covers all the cost (except for fingerprinting) including providing an attorney for the applicant’s hearing. This program has the potential to change lives and create opportunities for people who may have been held back in life by their past criminal offenses.

Michigan's Clean Slate

On October 12, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the Clean Slate bill which expanded eligibility for citizens seeking expungement of an existing criminal conviction. The law which went into effect April 11, 2021, was a bipartisan agreement on a series of bills which were designed to allow greater access to employment, housing, and other items which a criminal record may have prevented.

SEMCA Michigan Works! is one of 16 Michigan Works! Agencies that received funding from the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to assist eligible applicants in seeking improved employment, training, and educational opportunities by providing greater access to the expungement process. SEMCA has hired a staff attorney and coordinator to assist applicants through the legal process. “I am so fortunate to be a part of this program that can truly create substantial change in people’s lives,” said Connie Ribiat, SEMCA Expungement Program attorney. “Imagine getting a second chance to erase your past criminal mistakes that have been following you around for years and preventing you from getting the jobs you wanted or losing opportunities. This program can potentially change that for you”.

Expungement Eligibility

  • Up to three felonies and an unlimited number of misdemeanors, with certain conditions on the types of offenses that qualify:
    • No more than two assaultive crimes may be expunged
    • No more than one felony conviction for the same offense if the offense is punishable by more than 10 years imprisonment
  • The waiting period to apply after a person’s monitoring by the justice system ends (i.e., sentencing, probation, release from incarceration, parole, whichever occurred last) if they remain conviction-free. The waiting period will be:
    • Three years for misdemeanors
    • Five years for serious misdemeanors or one felony
    • Seven years for multiple felonies
  • Most traffic offenses will be eligible for expungement. This excludes convictions for:
    • Driving while intoxicated (changes in law occurring in February 2022, applications to expunge these offenses will begin January 3, 2022)
    • Traffic offenses that cause injury or death
    • Commercial Driver License (CDL) violations
  • Misdemeanor marijuana possession and use that would not have been considered crimes after recreational marijuana was legalized in Michigan. Judges must grant expungements if prosecutors don’t object.
  • 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
    • None of the offenses can 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
    • Any traffic or driving offense resulting in injury or death

Time for a Second Chance

Interested residents should take the first step and complete the SEMCA Michigan Works! Clean Slate Application to see if they are eligible.

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