Am I Eligible for Expungement?
The law separates expungement eligibility requirements into several categories:
- Conviction as a result of 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.
Criminal Proceedings Not Resulting in a Conviction
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.”
Certain Drug / Controlled Substance Offenses
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.
Juveniles Prosecuted as Adults
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.