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Minnesota's expungement law affords some a fresh start

We are all human and throughout life, make mistakes. It's from these mistakes that we learn about how our behavior and choices impact others and the resulting consequences. In cases where an individual faced or was convicted of certain misdemeanor or felony criminal charges, long after the matter is resolved, he or she is likely to experience negative implications from the fact that a criminal record exists.

Potential employers and landlords routinely request background checks. In many cases, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension maintains copies of criminal records including those that resulted in criminal charges being dismissed or a not guilty verdict. Consequently, discovery of the criminal record of a job or housing applicant may result in an individual losing a job or apartment.

Life is about second chances and for those individuals who previously faced and overcame criminal charges, expungement may be an option. The process, however, is complex and requires the advice and assistance of a criminal defense attorney. 

Effective Jan. 1, 2015, changes to Minnesota's expungement law will go into effect which will serve to effectively seal criminal records that are held by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. This is important as the BCA often provides background check information to employers and landlords. The new law, therefore, will afford qualified individuals a full expungement. 

Individuals eligible for expungement include those who meet the following criteria: 

  • Individuals with records related to juvenile delinquency matters
  • Criminal charges were dismissed or an individual was acquitted
  • Individual was convicted of a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor conviction and two years have passed without further incident
  • Individual was convicted of a gross misdemeanor conviction and four years have passed without further incident
  • An individual was convicted of a low-level, nonviolent criminal felony and five years have passed since the sentence was completed and without further incident. Examples of low-level and nonviolent felonies that may be eligible for expungement include some felony charges related to fraud, drug possession and firearms

Source: The Council on Crime and Justice, "MINNESOTA EXPUNGEMENT LAW IS CHANGING!," 2014

Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Basics on Criminal Expungement," 2014

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