If you have ever been accused of a crime, you understand all too well that the effects of that accusation remain long after the case has settled. Even decades after a journey through the criminal justice system, some individuals will struggle to obtain meaningful employment, to receive student loans, or to find housing. Fortunately, the Minnesota legislature recently enacted a law that provides a second chance for Minnesotans struggling to escape the lingering consequences of a criminal charge and/or conviction.
Under Minnesota’s new expungement statute, individuals may ask the court to order that their criminal record be sealed by the courts, the prosecutors, and by the law enforcement agencies that retained such records. In order to qualify for a full expungement, you must first show that you have waited the required amount of time. The amount of time required depends on the charge and the outcome of the underlying case.
- If you were charged with a crime, but that charge was dismissed without a guilty plea, you do not have to wait at all before seeking expungement.
- If you were charged with a crime, but received a stay of adjudication or entered into a diversion program which led to your charge being dismissed, you must wait one year following the discharge from probation.
- If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you must wait two years after the discharge from probation.
- If you were convicted of a gross misdemeanor, you must wait four years after the discharge from probation.
- If you were convicted of a felony, you must wait five years after the discharge from probation, and the offense must be one of fifty specifically enumerated offenses.
If your case falls into any of these categories, you may ask the court to seal your record. However, if your case falls into categories 3, 4, or 5, you must prove to the court that an expungement would yield a benefit to you that is at least equal to the public’s interest in keeping the charge on your record. If your case falls into categories 1 or 2, the state has the burden of proving that the government’s interest in maintaining your record is so great that it exceeds any benefit you would derive from an expungement. This is a high burden, and the state doesn’t even try in some cases. In fact, in some cases, the prosecutor will agree to the Minnesota expungement and no petition needs to be filed.
This law has been in place for almost two years now. The attorneys at Leverson Budke, PPLP have helped many achieve their goal of putting their criminal record behind you. If you would like to learn more about sealing your criminal record, please contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation.