Many people make mistakes in their childhood of which they are not proud. In some cases, those lapses in judgment may have resulted in a criminal conviction. The Minnesota Council on Crime and Justice reports that crimes can follow an individual and limit his or her future in terms of finding employment and even a safe place to live. People struggling with such issues may be relieved to know that a new law will enable judges to expunge certain qualifying incidents from their permanent records.
By the numbers
A young woman with a history of drug possession decided to turn her life around. More than a decade after her arrest, she went back to school and earned a degree in marketing. Upon graduation, she received three job offers with great employers. Unfortunately, as soon as they learned of her juvenile record, the companies rescinded their offers.
Such is the case for thousands of individuals living in Minnesota. According to the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, nearly 1.5 million individuals across the country under the age of 18, faced criminal charges in 2011. More than 36,000 of those arrests involved Minnesota youths.
A second chance
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension holds a number of juvenile records and is the primary source of background information for businesses and housing agencies. Currently, judges are unable to seal those records, but a new law that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015, will change that. To qualify for a full expungement of court and executive branch records, people will have to assure the court that there is no concern for public safety as well as one of the following:
- An individual was either acquitted or the charges were dismissed
- All the juvenile delinquency records can be expunged
- A stay of adjudication or diversion occurred and the individual is crime-free for one year after completing the sentence
- For a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor conviction, the individual is crime-free for two years after completing the sentence
- For a gross misdemeanor conviction, the individual is crime-free for four years after completing the sentence
- For a non-violent, low-level felony conviction, the individual is crime-free for five years after completing the sentence.
Individuals with juvenile records are not the only people who stand to benefit from the new law. For example, the law requires agencies to seal housing evictions if the case was settled in favor of the tenant. Additionally, the measure also offers protections to businesses and landlords who employ or accept individuals with an expunged record. For example, if an individual with an expunged record creates a serious problem with a customer that leads to a lawsuit, the business would not be held liable. Anyone with questions regarding the new guidelines should consult with a criminal defense attorney in Minnesota.