Changes In Our State's Expungement Law

The Minnesota Legislature has passed a law which gives judges more leeway to permanently shield the records of reformed criminal offenders. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton on May 14, 2014.

What is an expungement? It is a means to seal a criminal conviction.

The law came into effect January 1st, 2015. In order to qualify for expungement, the offender must show that a criminal record is making it difficult for the offender to find housing or a job. It will also make it easier for offenders to receive educational opportunities. To read more about the basics of an Expungement, click here.

Convictions that can be expunged:

  • There is a waiting period which depends on how long it's been since the conviction and being discharged from probation, the level of the offense, and so forth.
  • You also cannot have been charged with a new offense during the probationary period stemming from the conviction.
  • Petty Misdemeanor or Misdemeanor offenses: The wait is 2 years after probation has been completed.
  • Gross Misdemeanor offenses: The wait is 4 years after probation is completed.
  • Felony offenses: The wait is 5 years after probation has been completed.

Having dealt with the previous expungement law on behalf of clients, we are happy to see that additional expungement possibilities are being opened up. It has been difficult to obtain expungements in the past and we believe there are cases where expungements are justified in the circumstances. The new law allows more of a case-by-case analysis rather than one-size-fits-all.

One area of concern we have is that the law requires offenders to prove difficulty in getting a job or housing. Shouldn't an offender who has surmounted those obstacles, and actually been able to get a job or housing, equally qualify for expungement? Certain crimes remain ineligible for expungement.

Cases that cannot be expunged:

  • There are many felony convictions that will not qualify and only a specific list of felonies under the statute will qualify such as various theft offenses, fraud, and controlled substance in the fifth degree.

The process isn't a quick one, however. First a petition is filed and a hearing takes place at least 60 days later. If the Judge grants the request, the Order is stayed for another 60 days to allow time for the appeal.

It is important that you hire an experienced attorney when dealing with expungements as there are a lot of unique aspects to this law. Contact us or call 651-319-5180 to schedule a free initial consultation.