Minnesota Criminal Records Expungement

Why consult a Minneapolis expungement lawyer?

Public and “non-public” records of an arrest, criminal charge or conviction can:

  • destroy a person’s ability to get gainful employment,
  • impair a person’s opportunity to reach their full income-earning potential,
  • prevent, impair or destroy a person’s professional or occupational licenses,
  • create barriers to person qualifying for quality rental housing, and
  • diminish and destroy a person’s future in many other important ways.

Thomas Gallagher is a Minneapolis expungement lawyer.  And he has handled Minnesota criminal records expungement cases as part of his criminal defense practice, since 1988.

In that time, hundreds have called about expunging their Minnesota criminal records – after it was all but too late.  So don’t wait until after a guilty plea and sentence.

The best time to prepare for expungement? Before pleading guilty!

An expungement lawyer can help you wipe the slate clean
An expungement lawyer can help you wipe the slate clean

Step one, then step two: To protect your public record, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It will be more difficult to make a successful expungement motion if you pled guilty or were convicted by guilty verdict.

Gallagher has helped his clients get an “expungeable outcome” in the first place. That’s an outcome that favors a successful, future expungement motion.  So be sure your criminal defense lawyer is thinking ahead for you.  Make sure they are also a Minnesota expungement lawyer.

Compared to a Pardon

Minnesota law provides for various strategies for keeping your record clean.  Among those are various “expungement” remedies and “pardon extraordinary.”

In some ways, a Pardon is better than a typical Minnesota Court Expungement OrderRestoration of civil rights to firearms is but one example of how.

A “pardon extraordinary” may be available from the Minnesota state pardons board, not through the courts.  Not sure?  Then give a Minnesota expungement lawyer a call to discuss.

Minnesota state criminal records expungement laws

We can simplify Minnesota expungement law (vs. federal law) into four categories:

1. Minnesota Statutes §299C.11.

Where there was no charge or a court never found  probable cause, this statute applies.  It provides for the return of identification (booking) data, and cleaning up records.

2. Minnesota Statutes Chapter 609A.

Where (a) a juvenile certified as an adult; or (b) certain first time drug offenders; or (c) certain specified criminal proceedings. See Minnesota Statutes §609A.02.

3. An “inherent authority of the court” expungement,

Currently the least attractive option, it’s the only expungement remedy available to people who do not qualify for a better option.

4.  Juvenile Expungement.  

An expungement lawyer can help you with a juvenile record too.  For example, a juvenile adjudication for a Minnesota felony at 16 or older is a public record.

Minnesota Statutes Section 260B.198, Subd. 6, provides for court authority to expunge the juvenile “adjudication of delinquency” at any time that it deems advisable, except when  commitment to the commissioner of corrections.  The court does have authority to expunge these executive branch records, according to a 2012 Minnesota Court of Appeals case.

Minnesota Statutes Section 609A.02, Subd. 2, addresses “juveniles prosecuted as adults,” and allows a Petition for Expungement by a person committed to the Commissioner of Corrections upon conviction following adult certification, after discharge by the Commissioner of Corrections; or if the person was on court probation, after satisfactory discharge.

Neither statute explicitly addresses a person convicted and sent to prison after Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction (EJJ).

Seem complicated?  There are many types of “expungement.”  Call a Minnesota expungement lawyer for answers to your questions.  A bad expungement can be worse than nothing at all.

Real Expungement

True expungement: The first type of expungement, under Minnesota Statutes §299C.11 provides for the best available remedy.  Unfortunately, it is available to few.   It requires no criminal charge filed, or no court finding of probable cause. For those who qualify though, they may get the return of identification data, and clean up public records.

The most common, available type

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 609A. Expungement of criminal records under this statute is available in cases where:

(a) juveniles certified as an adult
(b) certain drug defendants (successfully completed Minnesota Statutes §152.18)
(c) others where the charge “decision in defendants favor.”  Appellate cases define this simply as “no guilty plea”
(d)  certain cases specified where there was a conviction, after a specified period

See Minnesota Statutes §609A.02.  The remedy is now only “sealing” the “public” records (not return of records as with §299C.11).  And, what the court seals, it can unseal by future court order, in the event of future criminal investigation.  But it is “non-public” in the meantime.

Limitations on the value of a 609A expungement:  The statute has a growing list of exceptions and limitations, in Subd. 7a “Limitations of order.”  These include the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Department of Education.  So, a person anticipating an occupational license should beware.  If you might want a job working with children, vulnerable adults, law enforcement or teaching consider this before filing.  And you should flag any of these concerns to your Minnesota expungement lawyer.

What next?

Is one of the several types of Minnesota expungement Orders right for you?  And what about an alternative, like a pardon extraordinary or a court motion to withdraw a guilty plea, vacate a conviction, and dismiss a charge?

Do you need a criminal defense lawyer’s help with this?  Or, do you feel comfortable doing it on your own without a lawyer using the Minnesota court’s expungement instructions and forms?

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Have a question for an expungement lawyer?  Call Minneapolis Criminal Attorney Thomas Gallagher at 612 333-1500