A criminal record can destroy your life. It can negatively affect your professional and educational opportunities as well as your housing prospects.
So what can you do if you don’t want your criminal history to hold you back?
Here in Minnesota, depending on the circumstances of your conviction, you might be able to get your criminal record expunged. Expungement is the legal process of asking the court to seal your criminal record.
While an expungement does not completely destroy your criminal record, it does seal it from public access. However, law enforcement and other public officials will still be able to see your record for certain purposes.
If you think expungement might be for you, let’s over the answers to the most frequently asked questions.
What Records Can Be Expunged?
Not all criminal records can be expunged. Your record has to meet certain criteria in order to have it sealed. Your record might be eligible for expungement if:
- Your offense was a certain first time drug possession offense.
- Your juvenile offense was prosecuted in adult criminal court.
- You were found not guilty or the case was dismissed.
- You were convicted of a petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor, or gross misdemeanor depending on the crime, how much time has passed since your sentence was discharged, and your criminal history.
What Are the Expungement Qualifications For Convictions?
If you were convicted of a crime, you have to meet the following criteria:
- You completed the terms of a diversion program or stay of adjudication and you haven’t been charged with a new crime for at least one year.
- You were convicted of or received a stayed sentence for a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor and you haven’t been convicted of a new crime for at least two years.
- You were convicted of a gross misdemeanor and you haven’t been convicted of a new crime for at least four years.
- You were convicted of or received a stayed sentence for certain felonies and you haven’t been convicted of a new crime for at least five years.
When Is Expungement Never Allowed?
If you are required to register as a sex offender for your crime, you are not allowed to have your record expunged.
What Is the Expungement Process?
To petition for expungement, you will need to properly fill out and file the required expungement paperwork. Once your expungement forms are complete and you’ve paid your filing fee, a judge will set a hearing date that you have to attend. The judge will then grant or deny your request for expungement.
How Long Does the Expungement Process Take?
The entire process will take at least four months. According to the law, a hearing on the petition for expungement can’t be held sooner than 60 days after service of the petition. If your expungement request is granted, you will have to wait another 60 days for the court to seal your record.
Can I Petition for Expungement on My Own?
While you can complete the expungement process on your own, it’s advised that you find an experienced expungement attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to determine whether your record can be successfully expunged as well as make sure you thoroughly complete the required paperwork correctly and on time. Any errors or mistakes might cost you your expungement. If you’d like to have your criminal record expunged, reach out to a skilled Minnesota expungement attorney today.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).