In Minnesota, carrying a felony on your record is a heavy burden, one which usually prevents you from obtaining housing, employment, admission to college and many other opportunities. A gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor or juvenile conviction can have similar effects. As a result, people with a conviction on their record in Minnesota are often prevented from contributing their unique talents and ideas to society. This is an unacceptable and counter-productive outcome of Minnesota’s criminal justice system in many cases. For example, a stupid mistake a young person made by breaking a window while intoxicated should not define that person for the rest of his or her life. Change is hard to come by, however, with the Minnesota legislature’s expansion of expungement, this dilemma can now change for many. Doors which have been locked for years can now be opened.
Expungement seals Minnesota criminal records from public access. Two types of records can be expunged: Judicial records (court records) and Executive records (law enforcement records). Sealing records through expungement can include one or both types of expungement. Once records are sealed, they remain accessible to law enforcement agencies, including in background checks for criminal justice-related positions. Once judicial records are sealed, they are removed from public access. Executive records are removed from public access.
The new Minnesota expungement law, also known as the Second Chance Law, takes effect January 1, 2015. For many Minnesotans with a criminal record, this law provides a new opportunity for expungement which was not previously available. While there are limits to the types of eligible cases, the new law provides a far more expansive list of types of Minnesota convictions which may qualify for this remedy. This law provides new hope for those seeking further employment, education, housing and other opportunities. In addition, this law provides a remedy for expungement of Minnesota juvenile convictions which can have a similar detrimental impact on the young futures.
Beware that there are many exclusions to the new law. The case is not eligible for expungement if the crime involved any of the following: domestic abuse or sexual assault, violation of an order for protection or a harassment restraining order, stalking or a domestic abuse no contact order (DANCO). This prohibition is effective until July 15, 2015. The legislature is likely to clarify this provision in its upcoming session beginning in January 2015, to provide further guidance for the application of this law after July 15, 2015.
The benefit of the Second Chance Law is a broadening of the remedy of expungement for many more Minnesotans. There are other remedies which may be available for an individual if expungement is not available, despite the expansion of the coverage of this law.
Our office handles Minnesota expungement cases, however, there is a screening process to determine eligibility for an expungement, due to the complex nature of the laws. Therefore, we may be unable to determine immediately whether an individual is eligible. When contacting our office, please provide the court file numbers of all convictions and the description of the charges, which will allow us to review and determine whether expungement is the appropriate remedy for the case.
Business screening services, treatment of records, Minn. Statutes 2014 332.70
Crimes of violence, firearms restrictions, Minn. Statutes 2014 609A.03
Criminal records charges, petitions, contents, Minn. Statutes 2014 609A.03
Expunged records, opening
Generally, Minn. Statutes 2014 609A.03
Human services licensees, background checks, Minn. Statutes 2014 245C.08
Unauthorized use, lawsuits, Minn. Statutes 2014 609A.04
Grounds, generally, Minn. Statutes 2014 609A.02
Hearings, time limits, Minn. Statutes 2014 609A.03
Nature of remedy, Minn. Statutes 2014 609A.01, 2014 609A.03
Sealing of records, generally, Minn. Statutes 2014 609A.03
Specific crimes, treatment, Minn. Statutes 2014 609A.02
Juvenile petty offenders, Minn. Statutes 2014 260B.235