People charged with a felony or misdemeanor know how consequential these convictions can be, even years after they faced the consequences of their actions.
While most records of arrests and prosecutions stay on your record forever, you may have the right and the opportunity to have your records sealed from public view. This is commonly referred to as expungement, which refers to a legal process in which your criminal records are removed from public view.
Having your records expunged can increase your chance of getting a good job, renting a nice apartment or purchasing the perfect home for you and your loved ones.
If your criminal record is hindering your personal or professional progress, consider speaking with an experienced Minnesota criminal lawyer who can help you set in motion the process of expungement.
Does My Case Qualify to Be Expunged in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, there are three crime classifications: misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor and felony. Misdemeanors are considered significantly less serious than felonies and typically involve limited jail time (up to a year) or some type of community service or rehab as punishment. Felonies can result in prison sentences of years or even decades depending on the severity of your crime.
Your eligibility to have your record expunged depends on the offense and whether you’ve met the requirements for expungement, like not being charged with a new crime for at least a year or having completed a diversion program.
You may be eligible to have your criminal record sealed if you were:
- Convicted of a first-time drug offense
- Convicted as a child but prosecuted as an adult
- Convicted of a misdemeanor or low-level felony
- Found not guilty
Not all criminal records are eligible for expungement. If you’ve committed the following offenses, you likely will never be granted full expungement:
- Sexual assault
- Certain types of DUIs
- Domestic violence
- Violating a restraining order
- Other types of criminal harassment
Offenders having to register as sex offenders will not be allowed to have their records expunged.
How Long Do I Have to Wait Before Becoming Eligible for Expungement?
There is a mandatory waiting period before you can request your records be sealed. How long you must wait depends on the type of crime you committed:
- Petty misdemeanors and misdemeanors: Two years after completing your sentence
- Gross misdemeanors: Four years after completing your sentence
- Felony: Fiver years after completing your sentence
If you are charged with another crime during the waiting period, these timelines will no longer apply, and you’ll no longer be eligible for expungement.
You can learn more about expungement and the types of crimes that are eligible in Minnesota Statutes Chapter 609A.
How to File for Expungement in Minnesota
The expungement process usually takes an average of five to six months. While you can theoretically go through the process without legal help, working with an attorney can make the process a lot easier and less time consuming.
After you and your expungement lawyer obtain your criminal case history, you’ll have to fill out the required expungement forms, which you can find online. Your next step will be to deliver the completed paperwork to the appropriate government officials. This is where working with an attorney comes in handy, as they make sure your forms have been filled out correctly and sent through the proper channels.
Once you’ve served the paperwork, you’ll have to endure a mandatory waiting period before being scheduled for a court hearing. If the court grants you an expungement, your records will be hidden from public access.
Do You Need Legal Help with Expunging Your Records in the Twin Cities?
Your criminal record doesn’t have to torment you for the rest of your life. If you’re interested in learning more about Minnesota’s court system or expunging your records, but you’re not sure where to start, Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) can help. Our referral counselors will take the time to connect you with a local expungement lawyer who can assist.
Call (612) 752-6699 to schedule a consultation.