An Overview of Minnesota Expungement Law
Retaining an experienced expungement lawyer is the first step towards a better future. In Minnesota an expungement means to seal a record. In Minnesota there are essentially two types of expungements. The first is called “Statutory Expungement”. It is called “statutory”, in part, because the Minnesota Legislature in 2015 enacted a law that gives the courts new power to seal the court’s own records and all other records held by various governmental agencies such as the police, prosecutor’s office, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and other entities. This law permits a person who was convicted of a crime, and those who were never convicted to ask the court to seal his record. An expungement may be permitted depending on the crime, type of conviction, when the conviction occurred and any hardship suffered such as loss of employment, denial of employment, credit or housing.The second type of expungement is called a sealing motion and is based on the Court’s Inherent Authority. This type of expungement can be effective, but is limited. A person asking the court to use its inherent authority to seal a record is asking the court to seal only the court’s record. This type of expungement is useful when a person has only a court record of the offense that is public. Depending on the situation, a sealing motion based on inherent authority may be useful.
Which Expungement Motion is Best for Me?
That depends on what you are seeking to seal and what you want to accomplish. An experienced expungement lawyer such as Martin Azarian can guide you through the process. If all you want to do is seal the court’s record a sealing motion based upon inherent authority may to your advantage. If you need to seal all records related to the offense and you qualify, a statutory expungement may be better.
I was told that if I pled guilty it would not go on my record? I applied for a job and my potential employer found it!
As an expungement lawyer I hear this all the time! Many times people go to court and plead guilty and are told “it won’t go on their record”. Here is the problem: You need to know what the word “record” means. For an expungement lawyer like Martin Azarian, the word record has little or no meaning. In Minnesota there are two types of records, criminal and court records. The courts in Minnesota keep detailed public records of every case, even cases that are dismissed. Just because a case is dismissed does not mean it disappears. It is there and anyone can find it. Criminal conviction records are kept by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). The BCA keeps a public website of convictions. Type in a person’s name and date of birth and his criminal conviction record is there for everyone to see. Even if your case is not on the BCA’s public website your case can be found on the court’s website where many background checking companies, employers, landlords and state certification and licensing boards look.
What if my case was continued for dismissal or I signed an agreement to suspend prosecution, do I have a record?
Yes. As an experienced expungement lawyer I am often surprised to learn from people who had their case dismissed that when they applied for a job they were denied even when the case was dismissed. This is unfortunate but true. Just because your case is dismissed does NOT mean it disappeared. It is there and can be found at any time unless it is expunged.
I am not an U.S. Citizen and I had a criminal matter. Can an expungement keep the immigration authorities from discovering it?
No. Unfortunately, an expungement will not keep the immigration authorities from finding the offense. That’s because the immigration authorities ask for offenses charged or committed; even expunged offenses. However, having a case dismissed and expunged may go a long way towards convincing the immigration authorities that that the matter was not very serious. It is important to remember that if you have your case sealed you should obtain a certified copy of the court’s entire file, including the register of actions. That is because once the case is sealed it will take a motion to open the case to obtain any records. If you are not a U.S. Citizen and have contact with the criminal justice system you should seek the advice of an attorney who practices in the field of immigration law.
When Should I Meet with an Expungement Lawyer to Discuss my options?
Immediately. You should meet with an expungement lawyer as soon as possible. I cannot stress this enough. As an experienced expungement lawyer I often hear people tell me “I did not think it was that it was that important, or I wanted to wait.” By that time it may be too late. The perfect job may be waiting, credit opportunities are waiting. Whatever the case may be, an experienced expungement attorney can help you. But, expungement motions are complicated. It sometimes takes many weeks or months to prepare an expungement motion. In addition, the law has built in waiting periods before a judge can hear the case and when the result becomes final.
The worst thing people do when their expungement matter or criminal case is dismissed or resolved is to wait. Time is not your friend. Remember, your case is public record. Everyday you wait to prepare and file an expungement motion is one more day someone could find it. Call Martin Azarian, an experienced expungement lawyer at 612-343-9000 or 852-975-0663.