Can an expungement offer you a fresh start in Minnesota?

A criminal conviction can haunt you for years, even after you have paid your debt to society. Whether your offense resulted in jail time or a fine, you will likely still suffer negative consequences of a conviction long after you fulfill your sentence from court.

The criminal record that comes from a conviction or guilty plea can impact many areas of your life, from financial aid for college to employment and even housing opportunities. The good news is that for some people in Minnesota, and expungement can reduce the impact of a criminal record. Seeking an expungement could help you get your life back on track after a criminal conviction.

Only certain kinds of offenses are eligible for expungement

If you aren't familiar with the term expungement, it is relatively simple. It involves somebody with a criminal record going to court and asking that a judge seal that record. Doing so can improve the prospects for the person involved.

The judge will consider many things, including your previous criminal record and any subsequent offenses, before determining whether or not to grant the expungement.

Typically, full expungements are available for certain first time drug possession crimes, juvenile offenses when the offender faced adult court instead of juvenile court, petty misdemeanors, misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. There are also some situations in which felony offenses are eligible for expungement.

Expect to wait for some time before you can seek expungement

Typically, you will need to wait at least a year after you completed your sentence or diversion program. In cases where there was a conviction for a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor, you will need to wait two years without a new crime to seek expungement.

For gross misdemeanor offenses, a four-year waiting period is standard. For those who have qualifying felony offenses, the waiting period is five years. So long as you do not wind up convicted of another offense in that time period, expungement may be an option.

Make sure the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension files get sealed as well

It is important to make sure that you seek a full expungement. Typically, expungement orders may only seal court records and not other critical government records. That can leave you in the same situation you were in before going to court.

A full expungement will include sealing the records with the courts and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). The BCA is a common source for employer background checks. If the files there do not end up sealed after your expungement proceedings, you will likely still have issues with background checks.

Each situation is unique, but if you think you may qualify for expungement, seeking one could improve your future options for housing, schooling and employment.

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