Years after committing an illegal act, you may find that your criminal record still stands in the way of your professional or personal progress. Fortunately, if you meet certain requirements, you may be eligible to have your record sealed so that the mistakes of your past do not appear in background checks. 

The process for achieving record restriction is complex, and you should not attempt to go through the application process without legal counsel. With the advice of a Minnesota expungement lawyer, you could increase your chances of concealing your criminal history and make a fresh start.

Expungement Definition Under State Law

When a criminal record is expunged, it is concealed and made unavailable to the public. A person’s criminal history may contain more than just convictions, including criminal investigations, acquittals, dismissals, and other forms of clemency. Although some of these instances do not translate into guilt, their presence on someone’s record can be problematic if they are revealed during a background check to obtain employment, school admissions, professional licenses, loans, or housing.

It is important to note that expungement does not completely erase their criminal information, but rather makes those records invisible to the public. Their records are not gone, and law enforcement may still have access to the information in some cases.

Additionally, not every criminal offense is eligible for expungement, and Minn. Stat. § 609A.02 lays out the specific standards for granting such relief. An attorney familiar with expungement laws could help a petitioner understand how they can apply to their case.

Qualifications for Expungement

The law allows expungement without conditions in cases where authorities investigated an offense but dropped the charges, ordered a dismissal, or acquitted the defendant. If an individual was convicted or admitted guilt in some way, the appropriateness of sealing records depends on the nature of the crime and the petitioner’s behavior since completing their sentence. 

Those who finished a diversionary program or probation, such as first-time drug offenders, may seek expungement if they have avoided additional criminal charges for at least a year after completing the program. Individuals guilty of petty misdemeanors or misdemeanors must wait at least two years, and those convicted of gross misdemeanors must wait at least four years. 

In felony-level cases, a Minnesota attorney will determine whether the crime is identified in the list of eligible offenses outlined in Minn. Stat. 609A.02, Subd. 3(b). Low-level felonies are on this list, but expungement is not an option for serious felonies, such as murder or sexual offenses. 

If the crime in question is an eligible offense, the petitioner must have led a crime-free life for a minimum of five years. Regardless of the crime, these timelines begin after the petitioner fulfills their sentence, not from the date of the arrest or conviction.

The Process of Concealing a Criminal Record

Those seeking an expungement must complete the following steps: 

  • File a petition and proposed order with the appropriate court
  • Serve those papers on all relevant agencies and offices holding the records
  • Appear at a hearing to justify the request and answer any objections

These steps may seem simple, but a mistake at any point could cost the petitioner dearly. For example, if the individual fails to serve the papers on all government agencies, such as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension or the Department of Public Safety, the judge may deny the request. By working with an experienced expungement Minnesota attorney, petitioners may avoid costly mistakes and achieve a clean public record. 

A Minnesota Expungement Lawyer Could Help You Achieve a Second Chance

If you have worked hard to turn your life around but feel that your criminal history is holding you back, expungement may be the answer. With the help of a seasoned Minnesota expungement lawyer, you may secure the clean record you need to lead a successful life. Call us today to start working on your case.