Minnesota has made it easier to expunge criminal records so that individuals can move forward with their lives. The courts may agree to expunge an individual’s record if certain conditions are met.
Qualifying for Expungement
- A judgment was issued in the individual’s favor — for example, a not guilty verdict or a dismissal. All court cases where an individual has not admitted guilt also qualify for expungement.
- Petty misdemeanors may be expunged following a two-year period without a conviction for another crime.
- Gross misdemeanors may be expunged following a four-year period without a conviction for another crime.
- Dismissal from court-ordered diversion programs for drug possession.
- Stays of Adjudications or diversion if the individual has gone for 12 months or longer without a subsequent conviction or violating the terms of the stay or diversion.
In all cases, a request for expunging a criminal record can only be initiated after the requisite time periods.
Limitations of Expungement Orders
Minnesota has granted criminal justice agencies the authority to use, open, or transfer sealed records without court order. This allows these agencies to investigate, prosecute, or sentence individuals. In cases where the individual was acquitted or the case was dismissed, these agencies must acquire an ex parte court order prior to accessing the record.
Certain low-level, non-violent crimes qualify for expungement. More than fifty felonies are eligible, including the sale of simulated controlled substances, fifth-degree substance possession, theft of $5,000 or less, and receiving stolen goods. Other offenses eligible for expungement include forgery, willful evasion of fuel tax, gambling, failure to appear, possession or sale of stolen goods, and embezzlement of public funds less than $2,500.
Reasons to Seek Expungement
There are many reasons for seeking an expungement of a criminal record. These reasons include:
- Obtaining housing
- Securing employment
- Acquiring credit
- Pursuing professional licensure
- Pursuing higher education
- Purchasing a home
Because these common activities can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, it is worth discussing the possibility of expungement with a Minneapolis felony lawyer. The process involves paying filing fees of $325, petitioning the court for expungement, and waiting for the court to go through the two-month appeal period. The process can take 5 to 6 months to complete, so it is best to start the process as soon as possible. Doing so can make it easier to move forward.