A criminal record can be an obstacle plenty of Minnesotans have to overcome in their lives…more than once. If you’re one of them, know you’re not the only one.
Also know, Minnesota law offers the option for many past offenders to truly leave your history where it belongs through the record sealing process.
Learn here what sealing your record means, whether you qualify, and how to initiate the record sealing process here in Minnesota.
What Does Sealing Your Minnesota Record Mean?
Minnesota law allows for a criminal record to be “expunged.” An expungement effectively removes your criminal record from public view. A Minnesota District Court Judge is the only person that can order the sealing of a criminal record.
In brief, the judge issues an expungement order. The court then seals the record. Upon sealing the criminal record, they send out a notification to all state agencies and courts that may hold a copy or have access to your criminal record.
The notice prohibits them from acknowledging, disclosing, or opening the record except under a court order. So you see, record sealing does not mean that your criminal record is completely erased. It simply means that your records are sealed and therefore not accessible to the public.
However, when you submit applications for jobs, housing, and some financial requests, it is the same as if it were erased. Only prosecutors, the courts, and law enforcement agencies are legally able to access a sealed criminal record.
Who Qualifies for Minnesota Record Sealing?
In 2015 the law addressing Minnesota record sealing changed. This change made it possible for the court to seal more convictions and criminal records. You have the right to seek record sealing when:
- All pending legal proceedings or actions were resolved in your favor
- You successfully completed the terms of a diversion program and have not been charged with a crime for at least one year since the program’s completion
- You received a stayed sentence for a misdemeanor, or you have not been convicted of a new crime for at least two years
- You were convicted of a gross misdemeanor but had your sentence stayed and have not been convicted for a new crime in the last four years
- You received a stayed sentence or were convicted of a felony and have not been convicted of a new crime in the last five years
There are still some crimes that are disqualified from expungement. If your history includes issues not addressed above, and experienced Minnesota criminal attorney can review your case and advise whether you meet eligibility requirements.
How Do You Get the Expungement Process Started in MN?
Due to COVID-19, the courts are currently closed. That doesn’t mean you can’t prepare what you need ahead of time, though. There are a number of documents you can gather electronically and complete at home.
To have your criminal record expunged in Minnesota, you must file a petition that includes the following information and any pertinent documentation:
- Your full name and any aliases
- Your date of birth
- Every address you’ve had since the date of the offense to the date of the petition
- Why you are seeking record sealing and why it should be granted
- The details of your offense, including the date it took place, the victims, and jurisdiction
- Steps you have taken since the offense toward rehabilitation (personal advancements, work, or treatment)
- Your criminal record
- Any record of criminal charges even if not convicted of the offense
- Any previous requests for expungement from any state or jurisdiction
- If you have a current restraining order or order of protection against you
When completing necessary forms isn’t something you can do from home, you also have the option of partnering with an attorney to help you complete them.
In either case, once the petition is filled out, it then needs to be mailed to the prosecutor’s office that has jurisdiction over your offenses as well as any agency that may be impacted by the expungement. A hearing will then be scheduled once the court reopens.
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).