In 2015, Minnesota made significant changes to its expungement laws. Under the new rules, you may expunge arrest records, misdemeanors, and some felony convictions. If your criminal record is expunged, it is removed from public view and you do not have to disclose it to prospective employers or landlords. However, expunged records are still available to law enforcement.
Expungement of Juvenile Criminal Records
In Minnesota, most juvenile criminal records are private, unless you were 16 or 17 years old and charged with a felony. However, law enforcement and certain state agencies may access your private juvenile records. You may expunge your juvenile record, but Minnesota law does not clearly set out a process for juvenile expungements. If you need help expunging your juvenile record, contact an expungement lawyer for assistance.
Expungement of Adult Criminal Records
You may expunge a wide variety of adult criminal records in Minnesota, including some adult felonies, misdemeanors, and arrest records. However, you cannot expunge sex offender information. The expungement process varies, depending on the type of record.
When you are charged with a crime, your criminal records may be stored by law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, courts, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). A full expungement seals all of these records and hides them from public view. You may be eligible for a full expungement if:
- The charges resulted in an acquittal or dismissal,
- You have a juvenile conviction where you were prosecuted as an adult,
- You completed a diversion program and haven’t been charged with another crime in at least one year,
- You have a petty misdemeanor conviction and haven’t been charged with another crime in at least two years,
- You have a gross misdemeanor conviction and haven’t been charged with another crime in at least four years, or
- You have been convicted of certain non-violent felonies and haven’t been charged with another crime in at least five years.
(For more information, see Minnesota Statute §609A.02.)
To request a full expungement, you must file a series of forms and a copy of your criminal case history. You also must send copies of these forms to the prosecutor and law enforcement agencies involved in your case. The court will schedule a hearing where you and others may testify and present evidence. The judge will issue a decision either granting or denying your request. The entire expungement process takes at least four months from beginning to end.
If you are not eligible for a full expungement, you may ask the court for a partial expungement, which seals only your court records. (The public will still have access to records at the BCA and other agencies.)
You may also seal arrest records if charges were not filed against you. In these cases, law enforcement and the BCA will have records, but the courts were not involved. To expunge arrest records, you must file a written request with the law enforcement agencies involved in the case. (You do not have to file anything with the courts and a hearing isn’t necessary.) If you need help drafting your request, you can either use the State of Minnesota’s sample letters or contact an expungement lawyer.
Associated Fees and Paperwork
Filing fees and costs vary, depending on where you live and the severity of your crime. You may file a fee waiver if you cannot afford to pay the court’s filing fee. If you hire an expungement or criminal defense lawyer, you may also be charged for attorney fees and other costs.
Implications of a Successful Expungement
If your request is granted, you may lawfully state that the expunged criminal record does not exist. When most employers search your Minnesota criminal record, the charges will not be present. Expunged records will still be available to law enforcement agencies.
Consulting an Attorney
In order to expunge a criminal record, you must submit specific paperwork and may have to attend a hearing. A criminal lawyer or expungement lawyer can help guide you through the expungement process and insure that you have the correct information in your request. Additionally, a lawyer can speak on your behalf during any necessary court hearings and give you the best chance of expunging your record.