A criminal conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. First-time offenders charged and convicted in Minnesota, however, have an option of having their criminal records erased or expunged. There are several conditions and requirements that must be met before a Minnesota court will grant an expungement.
The idea of expungement is a compromise between two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, criminal offenders want to be able to apply for jobs, housing, and school without having the shadow of a conviction hanging over their heads. On the other hand, law enforcement wants to be able to track criminal offenders as a means of deterrence so that the rest of the community is aware of the offender’s previous conduct. The expungement process allows those offenders who have only made one mistake to get out from under the stigma of the criminal conviction, though under limited circumstances.
There are two separate provisions in the Minnesota criminal code that govern expungements. The first is Minnesota Statutes, section 299C.11. It covers arrest records that are kept by police departments and other law enforcement agencies. The other is Minnesota Statutes, chapter 609A. It applies to all other criminal records, including convictions and judgments entered against a person. Each one of these laws is for different scenarios and the remedies available under each are very different. For example, Section 299C.11 allows an individual who has been arrested without probable cause to request that the law enforcement agent return the arrest record to them. On the other hand, chapter 609A is reserved for those individuals whose arrests have satisfied the probable cause standard and who have been convicted of a criminal offense.
Chapter 609A requires that, once all of the requirements for expungement are met, the court order that the criminal records are sealed. It mandates that the law enforcement agency or prosecutorial office that is keeping the records not reveal to anyone that they exist unless another court order mandates that they be opened. There are, however, limits on this expungement remedy, the most notable being that an order of expungement can be reversed and a court can order that the records be opened in the following circumstances: (1) another conviction occurs after the expungement; and (2) a request for employment with a law enforcement or prosecutorial agency.
If you need help with an expungement or have questions about the process, contact Douglas T. Kans, an experienced Minnesota criminal attorney today at (952) 835-6314 for a free consultation.
Source: “Expungement of Criminal Records,” by Deborah K. McKnight.