A decade ago, a Minnesota woman served time in prison for two felonies. According to the Star Tribune, she still struggles to find work because of her criminal history. However, a new law that went into effect Jan. 1 of this year enables people in the state who have been convicted of low-level felonies and other petty crimes to seal their records.
As a criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis knows, there are certain requirements that dictate which crimes may be expunged. Knowing how the process works could help many secure a brighter future.
An expungement is a sealed record, not a destroyed one. In order to obtain one, people typically have to prove that the benefit of sealing the record outweighs any possible disadvantage to the public. Sealed records will not show up on a criminal background check, which is why the Second Chance Law is so beneficial. A criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis knows that before an expungement may be granted for a conviction, the defendant must have completed the sentence.
According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch, crimes that may be expunged under the new Second Chance Law include the following:
- A case that ends in the defendant’s favor, such as getting found not guilty or having charges dismissed
- A case in which a defendant never entered a guilty plea and completed a diversion program
- A case in which a defendant pled guilty and received either at stay of adjudication or a stay of imposition
Thanks to the new law, people may also be eligible for an expungement following conviction of certain crimes. In those cases, the crimes must be a low-level felony, a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or juvenile delinquency. Further, it is important to note that depending on the specifics of the case, an expungement may not be granted to people who have been either charged with a new crime or convicted of a new crime since completing a sentence, stay of adjudication or diversion program.
As the Minnesota Judicial Branch notes, there are some crimes that are not currently eligible for an expungement. For example, convictions of aggravated assault, domestic violence, sex offender crimes, DWI and murder charges will remain on someone’s permanent record unless the case is appealed and results in the defendant’s favor.
However, the law separated out these crimes until July 15, 2015. At that time, the state legislature may review the acts and determine whether or not they will qualify for an expungement. Anyone who has questions about this matter should consult with a criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis.