A criminal record can create difficult consequences in future matters. Many times, employers and landlords commonly ask job applicants and apartment seekers if they have been convicted of a criminal offense; and then base their decision to hire, or rent, on that answer. Expungement is a way to avoid having your future dependent on a past criminal act. It is a court-ordered process in which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is "sealed." This process can restore various freedoms to an individual but it is not the easiest process to complete.
For any expungement case, you will need specific details for all court cases where you were charged with a crime, including cases where you were charged but not convicted. This includes State and Federal cases and cases in other countries. There are many government offices that keep criminal records and all such records must be secured:
In some cases, the court has the authority to seal all government-held records of criminal cases--this is called a statutory/whole expungement. This would ensure that the court records and records at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, police departments, corrections, and other agencies are sealed as well. Without a “statutory/whole expungement”, records kept by other agencies may not get sealed. According to Minnesota law, a statutory/whole expungement is allowed in specific situations including:
In situations where a statutory/whole expungement is not allowed, the court may only have the authority to seal its own records. In these situations, there may be a public record of your criminal case at another agency, like the BCA. And unfortunately, BCA records show up on background checks for employment.
Even if your case meets the requirements above, expungement is not guaranteed. Numerous forms must be completed and a Judge will determine if the benefit from receiving an expungement is greater than the disadvantage it would be for the public to not have access to your criminal record. That decision is based on:
The process for expungement can be tedious and involves a lot of work. In addition to securing your entire criminal history, numerous forms need to be filled out and completed. It is estimated that expungement takes a minimum of four months to complete the entire process. Although expungement can be done alone, it is best to get an experienced lawyer on your side to navigate the legalities and forms that are required.