Having a criminal record can severely limit anyone’s ability to get a job or housing or financial assistance. Fortunately, there is a way to “erase” your criminal history. This is called “expunging” or “sealing” your criminal records. The easiest way is called a statutory expungement. A statutory expungement seals your judicial (court) records and your executive (BCA, police, etc) records.
In order to qualify for a statutory expungement, one of three things must have happened. The most common is that the case was resolved in your favor. This means that your case ended with a dismissal by the prosecutor or court, a continuance for dismissal (or a continuance without plea), a diversion program, a not guilty verdict, or some similar resolution. In this situation, you are entitled to an expungement and there has to be a very, very good reason not to expunge your records.
Second, certain cases where a juvenile was prosecuted as an adult may qualify. And third, certain drug cases qualify when the case was resolved with a stay of adjudication pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 152.18, subdiv. 1. Unlike cases resolved in your favor, in these situations, you have to make some showing to the court that the benefit to you in sealing your records is equal to or greater than the disadvantages to the public and the agencies in sealing your records.
To go about sealing your records under this statutory authority, it is wise to have a criminal defense attorney assist you. Navigating the legal terminology can be difficult and overwhelming. You must submit an affidavit, a notice of motion and motion to seal, and a proposed order to seal. In addition, you have to serve every agency that will be affected by the expungement.
The hearing, which occurs at least 60 days after filing the documents, can be handled by your attorney. Your attorney will give you a waiver of appearance so you need not attend. At the hearing, the judge will review the reason for the expungement, determine if there have been any objections, and issue an order. Once the order is issued, there are 60 more days for the agencies to appeal the order. After that, your records are completely sealed!