After you are convicted of a crime and serve your sentence, you may have a hard time finding employment, housing, financial or educational opportunities. Fortunately, the state’s Second Chance Law widens the possibilities for your criminal record to be expunged. This means that your files are sealed and cannot be accessed in a public search. Let our legal team help your situation. Consult a Bloomington expungement lawyer about sealing your record.
Minnesota allows expungements through two different processes, by the court’s inherent authority and by statute.
Until 2015, when the Second Chance Law became effective, statutory expungement was extremely limited. Expungement could only be granted under court authority, if the petitioner made a convincing argument to the judge. The courts could only seal court files and criminal histories contained in the electronic Minnesota Court Information System (MNCIS). Other records in the archives of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) were still available for public searches, meaning petitioners still had problems getting jobs and finding housing.
The Second Chance Law expanded the availability of statutory expungement to most convictions. To be eligible, petitioners must stay crime-free for at least one year after completing a diversion program or receiving a stay of adjudication. For example, someone convicted of Driving Under the Influence may have to complete an alcohol rehabilitation program instead of being incarcerated. A stay of adjudication means the judge will not convict a person for an offense if the terms of the stay are met. This could include admitting guilt or being subject to probation.
If someone was not successful in getting their criminal conviction sealed in the past, a local criminal defense lawyer could help them determine if this new type of expungement is possible.
Petitioners are eligible for statutory expungement after a waiting period, such as a diversion program or a stay of adjudication. Petty and misdemeanor cases can be expunged two years after the case is discharged, while gross misdemeanor cases are eligible after four years. Many felonies qualify for expungement after five years. Some common felonies subject to expungement include:
Some domestic and sexual assault case files are also eligible to be sealed. An expungement attorney in the area could determine if an individual’s case qualifies.
Minnesota Statutes 609A.03 details the information to be included when filing a Petition for Expungement. If successful, caveats apply. For example, criminal justice agencies may still share a person’s information if it concerns a crime they are investigating or prosecuting. However, the agencies involved must get a court order to open files. An individual’s files may also be opened as part of a background check if they are a prospective employee of a criminal justice agency. The expungement process is complicated, and a nearby defense lawyer could help someone move forward with sealing their court files.
Our team of criminal defense lawyers knows that life after a conviction can be difficult. Even after enduring your penalties, you may face skepticism and prejudice once a prospective landlord, employer, or mortgage lender does a public record search and learns about your past.
A Bloomington expungement lawyer could be your advocate in this situation. A team of skilled legal professionals could work tirelessly on your behalf to get your record sealed. Call today to schedule a consultation and discuss your next steps to improve your future.