What You Need to Expunge Your Criminal Record in Minnesota
How to erase a criminal history and improve background checks
on February 23, 2018
Updated on March 21, 2022
When you’re charged with a crime, your life has changed forever. The ramifications of even having a criminal charge alleged against you can affect your ability to be employed, manage your credit score or find stable housing. Often, after the difficulties of the court system have passed, citizens assume that the problem has been solved. In reality, this could be just the beginning.
Is there anything that can be done?
Yes. There is a process in Minnesota called expungement—which is also known as clearing a charge or sealing a criminal record.
Before getting involved in the lengthy process of expungement, one must be certain that the charges attempting to be cleared aren’t excluded. Statutory expungement is not allowed for offenses that require a predatory offender registration. But, there is the opportunity to seek expungement under the “inherent authority” of the court, which, if granted, would clear court records of that specific charge—though not law enforcement's arrest records associated with the crime.
What crimes can be removed from a record?
Statutory expungement includes clearing your court record and the records of the executive branch. You may petition the court for expungement of something on your record if:
- The criminal case was resolved in your favor.
- You pled guilty but successfully completed a diversionary program or a stay of adjudication, and have not been charged with a new crime for a year since completion of any program.
- You were convicted of, or received a stayed sentence for, a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor, and have not been charged with a new crime for two years since the discharge of the sentence for the crime.
- You were convicted of, or received a stayed sentence for, a gross misdemeanor, and have not been convicted of a new crime for at least four years since discharge of the sentence for the crime.
- You were convicted of, or received a stayed sentence for, certain enumerated felonies, and have not been convicted of a new crime for at least five years since discharge of the sentence for the crime.
What must be met to be eligible for expunging a charge or a crime from a record?
Your eligibility depends on two factors:
1) The court has to balance the advantage for the petitioner asking to clear the charge against the disadvantage for the public for the charge being lifted. If a victim is put in danger, or requests a charge to stay on a petitioner’s record, often the disadvantage to the public will outweigh the burden of the person who committed the crime.
2) The burden of proof is either on the state or the petitioner to prove expungement is warranted. The state is responsible if the petitioner’s previous charges were resolved in favor of the petitioner—for example, if the case is dismissed or acquitted. In all other instances, the burden to prove is on the petitioner.
If I have the burden to prove, what do I do?
First, gather your criminal record and fill out a petition for expungement. It will be helpful to gather affidavits from those in support of your petition, and to ensure that you send it with proofs of service to all applicable law enforcement agencies, courts, and people involved in the case. The court will set hearing dates and schedules for you to follow and adhere to.
To be represented at these hearings, contact a reputable and experienced criminal defense attorney. He or she can help guide you through the long and precise road of the expungement process, and other legal advice. For more information on this area of law, see our overview of criminal defense.