Did you know that even if no charges were pressed or you were acquitted at trial, your arrest and court records will still show up on a criminal background check – even though you were legally cleared of all wrongdoing?
Most people don’t.
This is truly unfortunate, because one of the most devastating consequences of past legal trouble is having a criminal record. Most employers, landlords, and lenders run criminal background checks, meaning that your criminal record could compromise many aspects of your life.
Fortunately, you may qualify to have your record expunged so that it will no longer be accessible to the public and will not show up on a criminal background check.
Below, we’re going to cover the specifics of Minnesota criminal record expungement, including which crimes are eligible for expungement, and the circumstances required for eligibility.
Minnesota Criminal Record Sealing
If your Minnesota criminal record is sealed (also known as expunged), it will not be available to the public. This means that your criminal record will no longer appear on background checks, and you may legally state that you do not have a criminal record on housing, employment, and loan applications.
Prior to 2015, Minnesota was one of the toughest states in the nation for criminal record sealing. Very few offenses were eligible for expungement, and even if the petition for record sealing was approved, only court records were sealed. Other records, such as arrest records maintained by police departments, were not sealed, meaning that expungement offered little relief.
Fortunately, in 2015 Minnesota enacted a new expungement law. Known as the “second chance law,” it greatly expanded the offenses eligible for criminal record sealing, and required that other agencies seal records as well when a petition for record sealing is approved.
Categories of Minnesota Record Sealing
In Minnesota, there are seven main categories of cases that are eligible for criminal record sealing:
- Cases resolved in petitioner’s favor: If your case was dismissed without entering a guilty plea, or if you were acquitted at trial, you may apply to have these records sealed immediately.
- First time drug offenders: If you are convicted of a low-level drug crime and have no prior drug offenses, you may apply for criminal record sealing if the case was dismissed after successful completion of a drug diversion program.
- Juvenile offenses: If you had criminal convictions as a juvenile, but were not prosecuted as an adult, you are eligible for record sealing once you are legally an adult.
- Diversion programs and stays of adjudication: You can apply for criminal record sealing after successfully completing your diversion program, including programs for petty theft and drug offenses. You may also apply if you pled guilty to the offense, but the court withheld adjudication of guilt (did not find you guilty) and the case was dismissed.
- Misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors: If you are convicted of a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor, you will be eligible to apply for record sealing two years after completing probation, provided you do not commit an additional crime.
- Gross misdemeanors: If you are convicted of a gross misdemeanor, you will be eligible to apply for record sealing four years after completing probation, provided you do not commit any other crimes in the meantime.
- Some low-level felonies: If you are convicted of a low-level felony, you may be able to apply for criminal record sealing six years after your sentence and probation are complete.
What does all this mean? Criminal record sealing can give former offenders a second chance. You can stop getting passed over for jobs. Finally achieve loan approval. Move to a better apartment.
It’s not guaranteed, though. Filing a petition to have your record sealed does not necessarily mean that your petition will be granted – it is merely an application.
That is why we recommend working with an attorney experienced in Minnesota criminal record expungement, who will be familiar with the process and can maximize your chance of success.
About the Author:
A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.