Minnesota Marijuana Expungement: How to Clear Your Criminal Record
The State of Minnesota has enacted expungement laws to provide relief for those convicted of marijuana-related crimes. In this article, we provide an overview of expungement, its benefits, and eligibility criteria. We also highlight the differences in expungement requirements for adult and juvenile offenders.
A criminal record creates many obstacles in life, from finding employment to renting a home to qualifying for student aid. No one should suffer for the rest of their lives because of a mistake made long ago. Many people have possessed marijuana for their personal use but have convictions that make them look like drug peddlers. Expungement erases that record from public view, allowing for a fresh start.
What Is Expungement?
Expungements seal or remove criminal records from public access. Though the expungement gives the convicted person a fresh start outside the criminal justice system, many expunged records can still be accessed by the state. As a result, if the person commits another crime, an expunged record can potentially be used to argue against bail or for a harsher sentence.
Will My Misdemeanor Marijuana Record Automatically Be Expunged Due to the New Legalization Law?
The new law mandates the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension and other law enforcement agencies to seal misdemeanor marijuana records for tens of thousands of low-level offenders. For example, those with petty misdemeanor records and minimal criminal history should see their records cleared automatically.
However, some former offenders may not qualify because of their criminal history. They will need to formally petition a state committee requesting a review of their case for expungement.
Felony marijuana convictions are ineligible for automatic expungement. Individuals seeking to clear these records must formally apply and demonstrate their eligibility under the circumstances of their case and criminal history.
Also, bear in mind that expungements only happen after the sentence is complete and hinge on your record afterward.
Benefits of Expungement for Marijuana-Related Convictions in Minnesota
Expunging your previous marijuana conviction can help you immensely in your future life. Some of the benefits include the following:
- Improved employment prospects
- Enhanced Housing Opportunities
- Access to Education Assistance and Professional licenses
- Restored civil rights
- Improved quality of life
Improved Employment Prospects
Many employers conduct background checks, and a marijuana-related conviction can significantly impact an applicant’s employability. Expungement enables individuals to present themselves without the stigma of a criminal record, increasing their chances of securing gainful employment, providing them with a hand up to a brighter future.
Enhanced Housing Opportunities
Some landlords check criminal records when evaluating prospective tenants. Many property owners worry about drugs being dealt on their property because it can create liability for them and harm property values. Some have policies that prohibit those with drug convictions from renting in their buildings. But with an expunged record, reformed drug offenders can avoid discrimination and have a fair chance at securing suitable housing options.
Access to Education and Professional Licenses
Certain educational institutions and professional licensing boards deny admission or licensure based on prior drug convictions. Further, student aid for higher education excludes applicants with felonious drug records. Expungement helps reformed drug users pursue higher education and vocational opportunities without the hindrance of a marijuana-related conviction.
Restored Civil Rights
Expungement restores certain civil rights that may have been restricted by the conviction. This includes the right to vote, serve on a jury, and possess firearms.
Improved Quality of Life
Expungement removes the social stigma associated with a criminal record and imbues individuals with peace of mind, emotional well-being, and a chance to rebuild their lives without the constant reminder of their past mistakes.
Do I Qualify for a Marijuana Conviction Expungement?
If you have a Minnesota marijuana conviction and want to apply for its expungement, it’s important to understand the eligibility requirements. In the following paragraphs, we discuss the factors that determine your eligibility for a marijuana conviction expungement:
- Eligibility period
- Completion of sentence
- Criminal history
- Waiting period compliance
- Impact of the conviction
In Minnesota, convicts must serve a waiting period before applying for expungement. The length of the waiting period depends on the severity of the offense. For example, for certain misdemeanor offenses, you need to wait at least two years after completing your sentence to be eligible for expungement.
Completion of Sentence
You must have completed all terms of your sentence before applying for expungement. These include probation, parole, or any other court-ordered conditions, such as fines, community service, and drug rehabilitation programs.
In deciding on an expungement request, courts consider the applicant’s entire criminal history. If you have multiple convictions or a history of violent offenses, the court may deny the expungement request.
Waiting Period Compliance
During the waiting period, you must refrain from criminal activity. This includes avoiding any new criminal charges or convictions. Maintaining a clean record during the waiting period can strengthen your case for expungement. An arrest or conviction can tank it.
Impact of the Conviction
Expungement laws allow courts to consider the impact the conviction has had on the applicant’s life. These include the negative consequences it has had, such as unemployment, homelessness, or barriers to educational opportunities. Demonstrating how the conviction has hindered your rehabilitation and reintegration into lawful society supports your case for expungement.
Juvenile Versus Adult Marijuana Conviction Expungements in Minnesota
In Minnesota, the expungement process for marijuana convictions differs between adult and juvenile offenders. Expungement laws recognize the potential for rehabilitation and provide opportunities for individuals to move forward without the burden of a criminal record.
Expungement for Adult Offenders
The expungement eligibility standards for adult offenders include:
Adult offenders must generally complete a waiting period before becoming eligible for expungement. The waiting period varies based on the severity of the offense and the type of conviction. It can range from a few years for misdemeanors to longer periods for felonies.
Adult offenders must have successfully completed all terms of their sentences, including probation, fines, community service, and any other court-ordered conditions.
No New Criminal Activity
Demonstrating a law-abiding lifestyle during the waiting period is crucial.
The court considers the nature and severity of the offense, along with the individual’s criminal history and rehabilitation efforts, to determine whether expungement is appropriate.
Expungement for Juvenile Offenders
Juvenile offenders also have the opportunity to seek expungement for marijuana-related convictions, but the standards are more relaxed, focusing on rehabilitation and providing a fresh start for young individuals. Key aspects of expungement for juvenile offenders include:
Best Interest of the Juvenile
The court evaluates the best interest of the juvenile when considering expungement. Factors such as age, circumstances, and rehabilitation efforts are considered.
Juvenile Record Expungement Act
Minnesota has a specific Juvenile Record Expungement Act that provides guidelines and requirements for expunging juvenile records. The Act outlines the eligibility criteria, waiting periods, and procedures for filing expungement petitions.
Confidentiality and Sealing of Records
Juvenile expungement generally involves sealing the records rather than completely erasing them. This means that the records are not accessible to the public but may still be accessible to law enforcement in specific circumstances.
For detailed information on expungement requirements and procedures for juvenile offenders in Minnesota, you can visit reputable educational sources like the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s website on juvenile record expungement.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help With Marijuana Conviction Expungements
A criminal defense attorney can play a vital role in helping individuals with marijuana expungement by providing valuable guidance, legal expertise, and advocacy throughout the process. Here are some ways in which a criminal defense attorney can assist with marijuana expungement:
Legal Knowledge and Expertise
A skilled criminal defense attorney is well-versed in expungement laws, including the specific requirements and procedures for marijuana-related offenses. They understand the eligibility criteria, waiting periods, and other legal standards. This knowledge allows them to assess the strength of your case and provide accurate advice tailored to your specific situation.
Case Evaluation and Eligibility Assessment
Defense attorneys carefully evaluate your case to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for a marijuana record expungement. They review your criminal record, assess the nature of the offense, and consider other relevant factors, such as your rehabilitation efforts and conduct during the waiting period.
Expungement Petition Preparation
Filing an expungement petition requires precise documentation and adherence to procedural requirements. A criminal defense attorney can assist in preparing the necessary paperwork, ensuring that all relevant information is included and that the petition is correctly filed within the specified timeline. This helps to maximize the chances of a successful expungement application.
If your expungement petition faces opposition or challenges from the prosecution or other parties, a defense attorney can provide strong legal advocacy on your behalf. They can present compelling arguments to support your case, address any objections, and fight for your rights during court proceedings.
Negotiating Plea Bargains
In some cases, pursuing a plea bargain may be a strategic approach to obtain an expungement. A defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to achieve a favorable outcome, such as a reduced charge or sentence, that increases the likelihood that you become eligible for an expungement after your case and sentence concludes. This approach avoids the risk of going to trial, losing, and then being struck with a permanent record.
Talk to an Attorney in Minnesota
A criminal defense attorney’s expertise is invaluable when seeking marijuana expungement. They can navigate the legal maze, assess eligibility, prepare and file the necessary paperwork, provide legal advocacy, and negotiate with prosecutors and the court. By consulting with a skilled attorney, you can receive personalized guidance and increase your chances of a successful expungement.
For help with your Minnesota marijuana conviction expungement, contact Gerald Miller, P.A.
Related Content: Minnesota Drug Laws: Marijuana Charges Explained