Minnesota Expungement Law
The beginning of 2015 saw a dramatic change to Minnesota’s expungement law. Now, an expungement is available to those that need it and it is a meaningful remedy. A expungement will now seal both court records and those held by different government agencies – most notably, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehensions (“BCA”). The result is that criminal background checks performed by employers or landlords should not reveal expunged records.
What is an Expungement?
An expungement is a court-ordered sealing of a criminal record held by various government agencies, including but not limited to, the district court, BCA, and Dept. of Human Services. An expungement will not result in the destruction or return the criminal record.
The primary benefit of an expungement is that the sealed criminal record should not be seen during a criminal background check. In some cases, the petitioner may even be able to say that they were not convicted of a criminal offense.
This can make a significant difference when a petitioner is job hunting or searching for housing. Some stats can better put into perspective just how important an expungement can be:
- 1 in 4 Minnesotans have some form of a criminal record
- 87% of employers perform background checks on job applicants
- 26% of employers would not extend an offer to an otherwise qualified candidate because of a non-violent misdemeanor conviction.
So, you are probably wondering: how can I take advantage of this new law? There are a number of different options and which one applies to you will depend on your particular case. Below is a summary of the new Second Chance Law.
Grounds for an Expungement
The first and easiest option is when you are seeking to expunge only your arrest records. Under Minn. Stat. § 299C.11, you do not even need to file a petition for an expungement with the court if (1) you have not been convicted of any felony or gross misdemeanors in the 10 years preceding the arrest, (2) all pending criminal actions were resolved in your favor, and (3) either all charges were dismissed prior to a complaint being filed or you were never charged to begin with. When these three conditions are met, the BCA shall destroy the identifying information in the arrest record upon written demand from the individual. You may also send a written request to all other state agencies that may have your arrest record and they, too, should destroy your arrest record upon demand.
If this is not an option, you may be entitled to an expungement under statutory grounds. An expungement under statutory grounds permits the court to order the sealing of the court records and records held by other government agencies – like the BCA. There are several statutory grounds for an expungement. Importantly, convictions of all levels of crimes are eligible for an expungement, with certain limitations for felonies.
The Expungement Process and Analysis
The expungement process takes approximately 5 months to complete. At the outset, there are two mandatory 60-day waiting periods both before the hearing and after the judge issues his or her order. After allowing some time for the judge to make his or her decision and to complete the petition paperwork, you can see why it can take 5 months or longer.
To start the process, you need to file and serve the appropriate expungement paperwork: the notice of hearing and petition,proposed order, filing fee, and affidavit of service. Assuming you want various government agencies ordered to seal their records, it is crucial that you serve them correctly and timely.
A hearing is held, during which you will have an opportunity to further argue to the court why you both need and deserve the expungement. Each government agency whose records are impacted may, and likely will, argue against the expungement being granted. The court will issue its order in the coming weeks following the hearing.
There are different burdens of proof that apply, depending upon the grounds the petitioner seeks the expungement. And the court analyzes 12-factors when making its decision. For more information about this, please click here.
Expungement of Juvenile Records
If you are seeking to expunge a juvenile record, the process is very similar to above. But, it is different. It is eligible to all convictions, the burden of proof is different, and the court looks to different factors when deciding whether to grant an expungement. For more details on expunging a juvenile record, please read more here.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney
You are seeking an expungement because you no longer want your past impacting your life moving forward. The new law is called the Second Chance Law for a reason – it is your second chance. You should hire a Minnesota expungement attorney so that you give yourself the best opportunity to get your second chance.
An attorney will know how to navigate the special procedures that need to be accounted for in serving and filing your petition. An attorney can help you turn a mediocre case into a good case by exploring how you can better present yourself to the court. And an attorney knows how to handle the multiple factors the court will consider when analyzing your case.
Other law firms may charge you as much as $8,000 to do an expungement, and even charge you just to meet. But, North Star Criminal Defense is not like other law firms for a couple reasons. First, Mr. Gempeler, of North Star Criminal Defense, believes so much in second chances that he has devoted a significant part of his practice to this niche practice area, something few other defense attorneys have done. Second, we pride ourselves on offering more affordable and reasonable rates so that you can get the professional help you need to get your second chance. And third, Mr. Gempeler prides himself on being at the forefront of this new law change. He has spoken about the changes to other defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges, and even been published by the Minnesota State Bar Association magazine. Mr. Gempeler is a leader in this area.
Contact North Star Criminal Defense now to start the process of getting the second chance you deserve.