Minnesota law regarding expungement motions is constantly changing. An experienced expungement attorney, current on the law, may significantly increase the chances a motion will be granted. Of course, some expungement requests are easier than others. The most difficulty arises when requesting records of a conviction to be sealed. However, it is still possible.
At Narins Defense, Attorney Page Haswell Narins stays current on the expungement case-law and has had extraordinary success arguing clients' expungement motions and getting expungements granted, even in unlikely cases.
No one wants a criminal record and not everyone who has been charged or convicted of a criminal offense needs to live with it on their permanent record. Expungement provides a way to put the past IN THE PAST. If a criminal record is interfering with your ability to get a job, housing, licensing, or loan you should consider expungement.
The law separates expungement eligibility requirements into several categories:
Conviction as a result of a finding of guilt at trial or a plea of guilty;
Criminal proceedings not resulting in a conviction;
Certain controlled substance offenses; or
Juveniles prosecuted as adults.
If you plead guilty to a crime or if you are found guilty at trial, a permanent criminal record is established. Through expungement proceedings, the court can seal some or all of those records, so they are not accessible to the public.
Did you know that if you were arrested but never charged, or if you were even found not guilty, that the records still exist and anyone doing a background check on you can still find out about it? Fortunately, Minnesota law allows expungement of criminal records when a case is resolved “in favor” of the defendant.
Some examples of “criminal proceedings not resulting in a conviction” include:
A person was arrested and never charged. Many people don’t realize that even though they were never charged, arrest records exist and employers, lenders, etc. can find them when searching an employee or applicant’s background.
A person is charged but the charges are later completely dismissed. Records still exist regarding the arrest, investigation, original charges, court filings, and dates of dismissal. Although the case was ultimately dismissed, the records of arrest can potentially influence employees and applicants.
Found Not Guilty (Acquitted): A person is charged, prosecuted, and found not guilty (acquitted) at trial. Again, records exist regarding every part of the allegations, arrest, indictment, and criminal proceedings.
Continuance for Dismissal. A negotiation is worked out with the prosecutor to continue the case for a period of time (typically one (1) year) and if the defendant pays a fine and has no similar offenses, the case is dismissed. As long as the defendant followed all requirements and the one year has passed, the case is considered to have been resolved “in the defendant’s favor.”
Sometimes a case including allegations of drug possession or sale is resolved in a fashion that will dismiss the case if certain requirements and a probationary period are completed. This is often called a “Stay of Adjudication,” “Continuance for Dismissal,” or “Diversion.” As long as requirements have been fulfilled and the case dismissed, the person is considered eligible for an expungement.
What we’re talking about is when a person is under 18 at the time the crime was committed, but is certified as an adult and convicted. Once released from probation the person is eligible to request an expungement. Contrary to popular belief, the records are not automatically sealed when the juvenile turns 18.
Criminal cases result in many different scenarios and can be confusing. At Narins Defense, Attorney Page Haswell Narins can access your Minnesota Court Record and figure out which category you fall into and whether you are eligible. Please contact us with questions.
The expungement process will take approximately four to six months from start to finish. A formal motion to the court must be drafted (including all legally required sections). The motion must then be served on each government agency that has a record regarding the incident. If even one agency is missed, the motion can be denied by the court. Properly serving each agency is extremely important. After the motion is properly served, a hearing date is set. By law, the hearing can be not less than 60 days from the date of service. On the day of the hearing, the attorney for the defendant (called Petitioner) argues to the court why the court should grant the expungement request and seal any records regarding the incident, arrest or conviction.
After the hearing, the judge will issue an order granting or denying the expungement motion. Regardless of the decision, the order does not go into effect for 60 days. If the motion is granted, records are sealed after 60 days. If the order is denied, the defendant has 60 days to appeal the court’s decision.
The information above is just a basic summary of what you can expect if considering an expungement. There are too many fact-specific variables to cover every situation in one document. Therefore, this information should not be relied upon for legal advice. The best thing you can do to find out if expungement is right for you is to hire an experienced expungement attorney. If you have further questions, feel free to contact Narins Defense for a free initial consultation.