Questionnaire about legal issue

Bifurcation of Charges Allowed In Expungement Cases

In 2015 the court of appeals affirmed an expungement case where bifurcation of the charges was granted in one incident where two separate charges arose. What does bifurcation mean? Bifurcation means the point or area at which something divides into two branches or parts. The court of appeals case known as T.J.Z. stemmed from a case where the defendant was pulled over and charged with fifth degree drug possession of a controlled substance and one count of fourth degree driving while impaired (“DUI”/”DWI”). The driver received a stay of adjudication on the felony drug possession and received a misdemeanor conviction on the DUI charge. A stay of adjudication means that after the probation period, if the defendant successfully completes probation, the charge would be dismissed which is also known as a “152.18 stay of adjudication.” In some counties operation denovo is another term used which has similar consequences as a stay of adjudication.

T.J.Z., the defendant in the case ended up successfully completing probation and the proceedings were dismissed and he was discharged from probation without an adjudication of guilt. T.J.Z then wanted to expunge the drug possession case while leaving the DUI conviciton in tact. DUI/DWI convictions are not eligible for expungements because they are deemed enhanceable offenses in Minnesota. Because the drug possession case was eventually dismissed, the drug case was eligible for an expungement because it was “resoled in favor of the Petitioner.” The court of appeals court, over the State’s objection, held that it is possible to separate the two charges meaning to bifurcate them. This means that it was possible for the defendant in the T.J.Z. to get his drug possession record sealed even though the DUI charge stemmed from the same incident and was not able to be sealed. The decision will help many people who are looking for expungements who are charged or convicted of multiple counts or charges at the same time.

In the past few years there have been many changes to Minnesota expungement law. Specifically, there are now certain time periods that must be met before becoming eligible for expungement. Minnesota statute 609.02 lays out the different time periods that a petitioner must wait before becoming eligible. Under the new law certain felony convictions are not subject to the expungement laws along with an conviction requiring sex offender registration. If you have been charged with a crime and if you are inquiring whether you are eligible for an expungement, contact the expungement attorneys at Keller Law Offices. For a further explanation of the T.J.Z case, contact Max Keller.  If a statutory expungement is granted, your entire criminal record will be sealed including executive and judicial branch records. The lawyers at Keller Law Offices will file the expungement paperwork for you, file all necessary documents, and will appear with you in court for the motion hearing.

If you have been convicted of a crime and want your records sealed, contact Keller Law Offices for a free consultation. The defense attorneys  at Keller Law Offices are skilled expungement attorneys. Contact 952-913-1421 to see if you are eligible for an expungement.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.