Free legal assistance offered to clear criminal records of eligible job seekers – The News Herald


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Even though there are many “help needed” signs, those with criminal offenses on file can still have difficulty getting hired.

But there is hope that may change for some of them, thanks to the Clean Slate Expungement Program for residents of Monroe and Wayne counties (excluding the city of Detroit), created by SEMCA Michigan. Works!

Eligible residents can have their criminal convictions struck down, potentially opening up a wide range of employment, housing and education opportunities for those who apply and are approved.

“The Clean Slate program is another opportunity for SEMCA to fulfill its core mission of helping individuals get jobs and employers find the talent they need,” said Greg Pitoniak, CEO of SEMCA.

Clean Slate covers all costs (except fingerprints), including the provision of a lawyer for the hearing of the applicant. The 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, officials said.

On October 12, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the Clean Slate Bill, which expanded the eligibility of residents seeking to strike out an existing criminal conviction. The law, which entered into force on April 11, 2021, was a bipartisan agreement on a series of bills intended to provide better access to employment, housing and other items that a criminal record might have prevented.

SEMCA Michigan is working! is one of Michigan’s 16 jobs! Agencies that have received funding from the Ministry of Labor and Economic Opportunities to help eligible applicants seek better employment, training and education opportunities by providing better access to the de-listing process.

SEMCA hired a lawyer and a coordinator to help applicants through the legal process.

“I am so lucky to be a part of this program which can really make a substantial change in people’s lives,” said Connie Ribiat, lawyer for the SEMCA Erasure Program. “Imagine having a second chance to erase your past criminal mistakes that have followed you for years and prevented you from getting the jobs you wanted or losing opportunities. This program can potentially change that for you.

Those eligible for delisting can have up to three felonies and an unlimited number of offenses, with certain conditions on the type of eligible offenses.

No more than two violent crimes can be written off. In addition, the individual cannot have 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 judicial supervision has ended (i.e., conviction, probation, release from incarceration, parole, whichever is later) if they remain without conviction.

The waiting period will be three years for misdemeanors, five years for serious misdemeanors or one felony, and seven years for multiple crimes.

Most traffic violations can be canceled. This excludes convictions for impaired driving. Changes in the law regarding DWI offenses take place in February 2022. Requests to erase these offenses begin on January 3, 2022.

Other traffic offenses not eligible for expungement are traffic offenses causing injury or death, and commercial driver’s license (CDL) violations.

Possession and use of misdemeanor marijuana that would not have been considered a crime after recreational marijuana was legalized in Michigan can also be expunged. Judges must grant strikeouts if prosecutors do not object.

Multiple felonies or misdemeanors resulting from the same 24 hour period are treated as a single conviction for expungement. None of the offenses can be assault or involve the use or possession of a dangerous weapon. None of the offenses can carry a maximum sentence of 10 years or more in prison.

Convictions that cannot be removed from a criminal record include:

● Crimes punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

● Attempting to commit a crime for which the maximum penalty is life.

● Domestic violence crime (if the person has already committed a domestic violence offense).

● Child abuse.

● Most criminal offenses related to sexual conduct.

● Any traffic or driving violation resulting in injury or death.

Interested residents can visit semca.org/job-seekers/clean-slate/ and complete an application to see if they qualify.

SEMCA Michigan Works !, with an office at 25363 Eureka Road in Taylor, is a non-profit organization that operates various human service programs in Monroe and Wayne County.

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