Any criminal conviction can have serious consequences for your future, freedom, and household finances. Even after fulfilling all of the terms of your probation, the impact of a criminal record can continue to negatively impact your educational aspirations, housing options, immigration status, career opportunities, and constitutional rights.
Many don’t realize the consequences until it’s too late, like when they fail a background check for a new job or a new home. The good news is that Minnesota has relatively strong laws that allow expungement of your criminal record in many cases.
Why should I consider expungement?
In January 2015, Minnesota law became even more favorable for individuals with convictions. Under the existing law in Minnesota, an experienced criminal defense law firm like Gerald Miller, P.A. can seal some or all of your police and/or judicial file, preventing an isolated instance of poor judgment from determining your future.
How does Minnesota Define Expungement?
There are two distinct types of expungement in Minnesota: (1) Inherent Authority; and (2) Statutory.
Type 1 – Inherent Authority Expungement
Inherent authority expungement permits you to seal the court file related to your criminal case. While this might seem like an appealing option, this form offers limited benefits. Your judicial file is protected from disclosure and public scrutiny, but records of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), police, and prosecutors are not affected.
This form of expungement will provide the most significant benefit in cases involving petty misdemeanors or cases where you are not booked.
What Matters to the Court?
When seeking an expungement based on inherent authority, you face the burden of proof unless the case was resolved in your favor (e.g., not guilty verdict, dismissal of charges). The judge must consider a number of factors when weighing this form of relief:
- Risk posed by petitioner
- Criminal record
- Nature and severity of offense
- Community involvement and employment
- Aggravating and mitigating factors related to the offense
- Crimes involving child victims
- Need for expungement (e.g., obtaining housing or employment)
- Feedback from the prosecutor, law enforcement, corrections officers
- Status regarding restitution
- Duration of time since the commission of an offense
- Feedback from victims
- Rehabilitation efforts
Type 2 – Statutory Expungement
Statutory expungement is the other type of relief for those with a criminal record in Minnesota. This form offers broader relief because it extends beyond the judicial file to other criminal case records, like ones held by the BCA and other executive agencies.
Since BCA records are the primary source of information in background checks conducted by employers and landlords, this type of expungement can provide an enormous benefit.
What Matters to the Court?
To obtain this type of relief, the applicants who were convicted must prove the need to have their records sealed outweighs any public safety concerns associated with granting the expungement.
Statutory expungement permits sealing of both court and executive records under the following circumstances:
- Case resolved in the applicant’s favor (dismissal or acquittal)
- One year elapsed crime free since completion of sentence after diversion or stay of adjudication
- Two years elapsed crime free since petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor conviction
- Four years elapsed crime free since conviction of gross misdemeanor
- Five years elapsed crime free after conviction of a low-level non-violent felony (Limited to eligible felony offense)
Seek Legal Help to Understand the Changes to Expungement Laws
Since important changes in the law became effective on January 1, 2015, you should seek legal advice to determine if you qualify for either of these types of expungement in order to reclaim your reputation.
If you are interested in expunging your criminal records, we invite you to speak to a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start protecting your rights. Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.