What are your New Year’s resolutions? Save up some money? Get a better job? Move into a nicer place? These are great goals, but if you have a criminal record, you know that they aren’t so easy to achieve. Landlords, employers, and financial institutions may take your past mistakes into account when deciding whether to provide you with future opportunities.
Don’t let your mistakes hold you back. If you have served your time and you are ready to move on with your life, Minnesota wants to help you out. Apply to have your record expunged and prevent your mistakes from holding you back any longer.
How Does Minnesota Expungement Work?
Currently, your criminal record may list arrests, charges, and convictions that put a mark on your reputation. Even if you weren’t convicted, landlords may hesitate to give you the apartment you want.
Expungement “hides” these marks away so it doesn’t become an issue when you are applying for jobs, higher education, or other opportunities.
Who Can Apply for Expungement in Minnesota?
Every state handles expungement and criminal record sealing a bit differently. Here in Minnesota, you can apply for expungement if:
- You were arrested and charged but never convicted
- You were put through adult court proceedings as a juvenile
- You were arrested for low-level drug possession
Additionally, persons with convictions on their record may get their record expunged under the following circumstances:
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor, you can get your record expunged if you successfully completed your sentence and have not committed any new crimes for at least two years after the sentence was completed.
If you were convicted of a gross misdemeanor, you can get your record expunged if you successfully completed your sentence and have not committed any new crimes for at least four years after the sentence was completed.
If you were convicted of some felonies, you can get your record expunged if you successfully completed your sentence and have not committed any new crimes for at least five years after the sentence was completed.
It is important to note that not all felonies qualify for expungement. For example, anyone who has to register as a sex offender cannot apply for expungement.
Taking Steps Toward Expungement in Minnesota
If you meet the qualifications for expungement, here is what you need to do to apply:
Reach Out to a Lawyer
The hardest part of the expungement process is usually the clerical work. Reach out to a criminal defense lawyer for assistance with the expungement process.
Fill Out the Appropriate Forms
Find these forms on the Minnesota Judicial Branch website. You must make a few copies of these forms to distribute to the appropriate offices that handle criminal records. Remember to keep a copy for yourself and document who received the forms.
Prepare for a Hearing
If you were arrested but never convicted, you probably won’t have to go to court. You may just get a notice in the mail with further details about the expungement process. People with convictions, however, may get a letter with details about their hearing.
Defendants will have to show up in court and plead their case for expungement. Judges want to see that the defendant has been rehabilitated since their conviction and has turned over a new leaf. The court will also consider the nature of the crime, your behavior during the criminal process, and your ability to complete your sentence before making a decision.
Expungement can help you wipe your slate clean in the New Year. Don’t wait – get started on this process today to ensure a brighter future tomorrow.
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.