Is it worth filing a petition with a court to get your criminal record expunged? This answer depends on several factors including the type of criminal act you were charged with committing and manner in which your case ended. Certain offenses called “serious crimes” such as murder, criminal sexual conduct, aggravated assault, and driving while intoxicated may never be expunged if the case is not resolved in your favor. Hence, if you are convicted of one of the foregoing crimes by a judge or jury or you plead guilty to one the crimes, the expungement process may prove nothing more than a waste of time.
If you are found guilty or plead guilty to a crime other than those mentioned above, expungement is possible, but rarely granted. However, even if you do convince a judge to expunge your record, Minnesota law limits the court’s authority to expunge to court records ONLY. The problem with this constraint is that many government offices, such as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) maintain their own database of criminal records that district court judges have no ability to expunge. Hence, the Minnesota BCA, an exceptionally popular place employers and landlords utilize for background checks, may still maintain your entire criminal record that the public may view. The only exception to this law in which the Minnesota BCA must seal your record would be if not expunging your record would violate your constitutional rights.
Criminal cases resolved in your favor may be expunged. These outcomes include being found not guilty by a jury or judge, having a prosecutor dismiss a case against you, or participating and successfully completing a pretrial diversion program. However, similarly to cases not resolved in your favor, a district court judge is still limited to expunging only your criminal court record. Other offices such as the Minnesota BCA, city and county prosecutor’s offices, and law enforcement officials may still keep a record open for the public to view.
Being allowed to expunge your criminal record does not guarantee that a judge will grant expungement. In most cases, you must prove the benefit of expungement outweighs the disadvantage of having the public view your record. In generally, you must prove the following:
1. You have been denied work, housing, or a professional license because of your record;
2. Sealing your criminal record will not negatively affect public safety; and
3. You have rehabilitated yourself.
Expungement can be a complicated process that may take over four months to resolve.
It is important when you are seeking expungement in Minnesota that you get advice from an experienced attorney. The sooner you talk to an attorney, the better your chances that all of your options can be explored. At Bradshaw & Bryant, we have been helping people with all levels of charges from DUI and drug charges to physical assaults and homicides. We have put the time in to court to make a difference for you.