How-To's

Published on March 31st, 2016 | by Brooks Hitchcock

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How To Expunge Your Criminal Record

Having a criminal record can have detrimental affects in both your personal and professional life. A felony or misdemeanor can disqualify you from many jobs, interfere with your ability to get a loan, a driver’s license, and even lower your credit score. If this sounds like you, it might be time to consider getting your criminal record expunged. All states have a legal process for expungement, but most cannot begin until after a set number of years following your conviction. This article will focus specifically on the expungement process in Minnesota. Consult with an attorney in your city to find out more information about the expungement process in your state.

Expungement Law in Minnesota 

In certain cases, the state of Minnesota will allow a person’s past criminal convictions to be expunged, or wiped clean from their record. Following the legal process, a conviction is marked as ‘Dismissed’ and then sent to the Department of Justice, who then must process the information regarding the case and decide whether or not expungement is justified.

Benefits of Expungement

  1. Employee Benefits – All job applications require that you disclose whether or not you have a felony conviction, and answering untruthfully is punishable under Federal law. Having your record expunged, however, will allow you to answer “No” on this portion of any job application, preventing your potential employer from investigating the matter further. Having your record expunged also prevents employers from using your criminal record as an excuse not to hire you.
  2. Licensing Benefits – Some professions require licensing through the city or state in order to operate and conduct business there. A felony does have the potential to disqualify you from obtaining certain of these licenses, such as real estate, insurance, or contracting license. Your ability to run for public office can also be affected. Having your record expunged, however, will qualify you as eligible to receive such licensing, although you do have to lawfully disclose any conviction on a state license application.
  3. Loan Applications – Although a conviction won’t definitively disqualify you from receiving a loan from the bank, having your record expunged will definitely work more in your favor. This is true for student loans and grants, as well as home and auto loans.
  4. Mental Health Benefits – One of the most important things expungement can grant a person is peace of mind. Your background follows you everywhere you go, like an invisible shadow that exists only on paper and in memory. Once you have your record expunged, however, that paper record is erased, leaving you free to pursue any future you want.

Cases that Qualify for Expungement

In general, cases that qualify for expungement in Minnesota include felonies that resulted in jail time and/or probation, misdemeanors, and/or infractions not involving motor vehicles. If you have been placed on probation, consult with your expungement lawyer about petitioning the court to end your probation early so that you may apply for expungement.

More serious cases like sex offenses and alcohol-related felonies and offenses are automatically disqualified for expungement. Consequences involving immigration that resulted in a criminal conviction are also unable to be expunged from your record. Expungement does not apply to your record with the Department of Motor Vehicles, so offenses like DUIs can never be removed from your record.

Getting Started

There are a number of legal documents that are required to begin the expungement process. These documents must be filed with the court, and copies must also be provided to the prosecutor, so it is best to hire an attorney to assist you with the process. Attorneys are also knowledgeable about the court and the expungement process, and will be better able to ensure your case is being handled properly and efficiently. Once everything has been filed completely and accurately, your record will be wiped clean and your expungement complete.

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