It is just a myth that juvenile court and conviction records in Minnesota are either automatically sealed or expunged at the age of 18. The truth is actually much more complicated.
What is expungement?
An expungement can hide your criminal records from public viewing and keep them from being opened or disclosed at a future date. To be clear, expungement does not mean that your records are destroyed.
While most juvenile records are sealed from the public’s view, a few circumstances allow the public to see your juvenile record, including:
- If you committed a crime that would have been a felony had you been an adult
- If you were at least 16 years old while committing the offense for which you were found guilty
Expunging juvenile criminal records in Minnesota
If you or your child wishes to have a criminal record hidden, you must submit an expungement request to a court. The court – when properly petitioned – may grant expungement of your juvenile records if you meet the following criteria:
- If the charges against you have been dismissed
- You were found not guilty
- You did not plead guilty to the charges for you were convicted
An expungement order only affects records held by state courts. This means that the order may not affect records held by others, including certain agencies. Additionally, if you are under investigation or sentencing for another crime or are subject to a criminal background check your records may be opened by the court. A court order is not needed if you are applying for a job in law enforcement.
What about my arrest record?
If the prosecution never filed formal charges against you, and you have had a clean record for ten years, you do not need a court order to have your records expunged. However, you still need to go through the process of having them hidden.
None of these courses of action is easy without the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Seek the counsel of a skilled lawyer if you have been arrested, are facing criminal charges or wish to learn your options regarding expungement.