If you have a criminal record, it can have an impact on many aspects of your life. Luckily, in Minnesota, there is a way for those who have a criminal record to have certain charges, and/or convictions expunged, that is, sealed. This can help if you are looking for work or housing and a criminal background check is needed to be able to qualify. Here are some facts about expungements in Minnesota that you should know.
Expungements can apply to court records showing dismissals as well records showing convictions
If you have had a charge that ended up in a not guilty verdict or a dismissal, it may still show up on your criminal record. Sometimes these can have a negative effect on job qualifications, so it would be beneficial to have them expunged.
Expungements are confidential
If you are successful in getting a record expunged, then the court that approves it will seal that record. That means that no business, landlord or member of the general public will be able to see that a charge has been expunged. After an expungement is granted, if asked, you have the legal right to say you have never been charged or convicted of a crime. However, under certain circumstances, the record may still be available to some agencies.
Expunged records can be seen in some circumstances
In some instances, expunged records can be unsealed by law enforcement agencies that are involved in a criminal investigation, prosecution, or sentencing. However, this can only happen with a court order, so the request has to meet certain strict criteria. A record can also be unsealed without a court order by a criminal justice agency, without a court order, for purposes of evaluating a prospective employee. There are also some jobs – especially those with children – that may allow the unsealing of an expunged record.
You must meet the time limits
Expungement can only be possible, after a specific amount of time has gone by after you have been discharged from the sentence for the crime.
For misdemeanors, and petty misdemeanors, (which are actually not crimes), you must wait and have no new convictions for two years from when you were discharged.
For gross misdemeanors, you must wait and have no new convictions for four years from when you were discharged.
For Felonies, provided the felony is on the list of felonies permitted to be expunged, you must wait and have no new convictions for five years from when you were discharged.
Expungement is not a simple process
The expungement process involves more than asking the court to expunge a record. You must demonstrate to the court, in the written submissions, that you qualify to be considered for expungement under the “Second Chance Law.” At the expungement hearing, the prosecutor may object to your request for the expungement, or the judge may question your situation or reasons for your expungement request. You will need to anticipate and prepare to counter argue or rebut any questions or objections that are raised.
The best way to obtain a positive outcome and have your expungement petition granted is to seek out professional legal help to properly prepare your case and argue it to the court.
Having previous charges expunged can help you move forward with your life.