The state of Minnesota offers a free Public Criminal History Search that allows internet users to access details of past criminal convictions Minnesotans have picked up. The availability of details about any past criminal conviction you have could affect your ability to secure work and accommodation.
Expungement is an avenue many Minnesota residents with criminal histories explore to help get themselves back on track after convictions.
So, what is expungement in Minnesota, and how might it help you?
What Is Expungement in Minnesota?
Expungement occurs when a court agrees to seal public records of a criminal conviction or charge.
It’s important to note that expungement does not erase your criminal history. Government agencies will still be able to view the expunged items on your criminal record under certain circumstances. However, the general public (including prospective employers and landlords) will not.
How to Apply for Expungement
Your first step toward having your criminal record expunged should be collecting all records of any court case in which you were charged with a crime. This includes charges that did not end in a conviction, as well as charges filed in federal court, charges from states other than Minnesota, and charges from foreign countries.
You will have to contact the courts, the police, and public prosecutors to acquire all the necessary records. Where the court cases were from other states or federal courts, you may need to contact the authorities in the relevant states or the FBI.
You then have to apply for expungement through the Minnesota Judicial Branch. The process is detailed and potentially lengthy, requiring you to fill out and submit a number of forms. The Judicial Branch has a video series on YouTube explaining the application process in detail.
Courts decide whether to grant expungements based on their perception of the balance of the public interest. If a judge decides the restriction of your records would not benefit the public, they will not grant an exemption. Courts consider a range of factors when making this decision, including the severity of the offense and your overall criminal history, the length of time since you committed an offense, the reasons for your application, and whether or not you pose a significant risk to society at the time of your application.
Different Kinds of Expungements
A statutory expungement, also known as a whole expungement, is a court-ordered sealing of all government records in relation to a case. Another possibility under Minnesota law is an inherent authority expungement. In this scenario, the courts will seal their own records on a given case, but will not order all government agencies to do the same. So, records from organizations like the Bureau of Criminal Apprehensions (BCA) may remain public. While you can request that the agency annotate your record to show there was an expungement in relation to it, potential landlords and employers may still come across the record if they conduct a background check on you.
Is Expungement Possible in Minnesota DWI Cases?
Minnesota law provides that statutory expungement is only possible in relation to certain types of convictions. Felony DWI offenses are not among these. However, petty misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor DWI convictions may be eligible for statutory expungement.
A 1st-degree DWI, which occurs in cases where offenders have had three previous DWI convictions or license revocations within the last 10 years, or a previous 1st-degree DWI conviction, is a felony. Both 2nd- and 3rd-degree DWIs are gross misdemeanors, while a 4th-degree DWI is a misdemeanor.
If you were charged with a crime but the matter was resolved in your favor, you should be entitled to apply for expungement in Minnesota regardless of the nature of the charge. A resolution in your favor can be an acquittal, a stay of adjudication, a case dismissal, or a completed diversion program.
If you need help with a charge for Minnesota DWI or another criminal offense, contact us today. We’ll provide a free initial review of your case.