Criminal background checksMichigan’s Senate Judiciary committee is scheduled to consider a bill tomorrow that would make it easier for individuals previously convicted of certain crimes to have their records expunged.

Specifically, Michigan House Bill 4186 would allow individuals convicted of a single felony or a couple of misdemeanors to apply to have them removed from their record.  Notably, the bill’s sponsor, Stacy Erwin Oakes, is a former Michigan Assistant Attorney General who previously prosecuted criminals under both Democratic and Republican Attorney Generals (Granholm and Cox, respectively).

Michigan law currently allows for expungement if (1) the person does not have more than one conviction or (2) the person has two or three convictions and all but one are for a minor offense, as defined by the statute. If either of these exceptions apply, proceed to the next question. The proposed legislation is intended to give people not otherwise eligible under current law another chance to have their records expunged.

Such expungements are especially critical when it comes to employment opportunities because an expungement has the effect of setting aside a prior criminal conviction. This permits a job applicant to honestly represent in a job application or to a potential employer and others that he or she has not been convicted of a crime. 

Under the proposed legislation, however, there are certain convictions that could not be removed, such as child abuse and acts of terrorism. The bill previously cleared the state House without a single dissenting vote.  The bill must pass the state senate this week or it dies and would need to be reintroduced next year. The smart money is on the bill dying, but that is just an educated guess.

For more information about conducting criminal background checks of job applicants and in hiring decisions, see our prior post What Employers and Employees Should Understand about Conducting Background Checks. And for more information about complying with federal or Michigan employment law or improving your company’s risk management of human resource issues, contact attorney Jason M. Shinn.