Thanks to changes to state law, it's easier than ever for Minnesota residents to have old criminal charges expunged from their records. If you have been struggling to move on with your life after a criminal conviction, expungement may help you find a way forward.
What is an Expungement?
Historically, Minnesota allowed employers to make a blanket ban on hiring anyone with a criminal past. This made it extraordinarily difficult for people who'd made bad decisions in the past but since cleaned up their lives to fine housing and jobs. This policy changed on January 1, 2015.
On that date a new state law made it easier for individuals convicted of certain crimes to have their criminal records expunged. An expungement seals the records from background checks by landlords and employers, directly helping individuals find the housing and jobs they so desperately need.
Who Can Have Charges Expunged?
To be eligible for expungement, your charges must fall into one of several categories. People with misdemeanor convictions, gross misdemeanor convictions, juvenile convictions, and low-level felony convictions may be eligible for expungement. Eligibility is not a guarantee of expungement however and before applying you must wait for at least two years after conviction.
How Can Expungement Benefit You?
If you are eligible to have your records expunged, you should attempt to do so. Many ex-felons are stuck in the cycle of poverty because they cannot get a well-paying job. Criminal charges from the past can negatively impact your ability to find a good job so you can support yourself or your family. Landlords may not wish to rent to you if you have a criminal record.
Expungement takes you back to a time before you committed those charges, when people did not judge you based on one thing. It allows you to use your skills and abilities to find meaningful work. In addition, as they move through the process of getting records sealed, many ex-felons feel increased optimism about the future.
To have your record expunged, work with a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can see whether your charges are eligible for expungement, explain the process to you, and help you move forward with the petition for expungement.