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Expungement & Pardon

Minnesota Criminal Expungement & Pardon


How can a Minneapolis expungement lawyer help you?

Records of an arrest, criminal charge or conviction can:

  • destroy a person’s ability to get gainful employment,
  • impair a person’s opportunity to reach their full income-earning potential,
  • prevent, impair or destroy a person’s professional or occupational licenses,
  • create barriers to person qualifying for quality rental housing, and
  • diminish and destroy a person’s future in other important ways.

Thomas Gallagher is a Minneapolis expungement lawyer.  And he has handled Minnesota criminal records expungement cases as part of his criminal defense practice, since 1988.

In that time, hundreds have called about expunging their Minnesota criminal records – after it was all but too late.  So don’t wait until after a guilty plea and sentence.

The best time to prepare for expungement? Before pleading guilty!

An expungement lawyer can help you wipe the slate clean
An expungement lawyer can help you wipe the slate clean

Step one, then step two: To protect your public record, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

An expungement motion is more difficult, after a guilty plea or conviction.

Gallagher has helped his clients get an “expungeable outcome” in the first place.  And that’s an outcome that favors a future expungement motion.

So be sure your criminal defense lawyer is thinking ahead for you.  And make sure they are also a Minnesota expungement lawyer.

Compared to a Pardon

Minnesota law provides various strategies for keeping your record clean. 

Among those remedies are “expungement” and “pardon extraordinary.”

In some ways, a Pardon is better than a typical Minnesota Court Expungement Order.  See: Civil Rights, Guns & Marijuana: Why Minnesota Expungement is Broken.

And restoration of civil rights to firearms is one example.

“pardon extraordinary” may be available from the Minnesota state pardons board, (not the courts.)  Not sure?  Then give a Minnesota expungement lawyer a call to discuss.

Minnesota criminal records expungement laws

We can simplify Minnesota expungement law into four categories:

1. Minnesota Statutes §299C.11.

Where there was no charge or a court never found  probable cause, this statute applies.  And it provides for the return of identification (booking) data, and records clean up.

2. Minnesota Statutes Chapter 609A.

Where (a) juvenile certified as an adult; or (b) certain first-time drug offenders; or (c) certain specified criminal proceedings. See Minnesota Statutes §609A.02.

3. An “inherent authority of the court” expungement,

The least attractive type, it’s the only expungement type available for those who do not qualify for a better option.

4.  Juvenile Expungement.  

An expungement lawyer can help you with a juvenile record too.

For example, a juvenile adjudication for a Minnesota felony at 16 or older is a public juvenile record.

Minnesota Statutes Section 260B.198, Subd. 6, provides for the court’s authority to expunge the juvenile “adjudication of delinquency.”  And the court has authority to expunge executive branch records, according to a 2012 Minnesota Court of Appeals case.

Minnesota Statutes Section 609A.02, Subd. 2, addresses “juveniles prosecuted as adults.”  And it allows a Petition for Expungement following an adult certification and commitment to the Commissioner of Corrections, or if the person was on court probation, after discharge.

But neither statute explicitly addresses a person convicted and sent to prison after Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction (EJJ).

Seem complicated?  There are many types of “expungement.”  So call a Minnesota expungement lawyer for answers to your questions.

Real Expungement

True expungement: The first type of expungement, under Minnesota Statutes §299C.11 provides for the best type.  Unfortunately, it is available to few.  So, it requires no criminal charge filed, or no court finding of probable cause.

But, for those who do qualify, they may get the return of identification data, and clean up public records.

The most common, available type

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 609A. Expungement of criminal records under this statute is available in cases where:

(a) juveniles certified as an adult
(b) certain drug defendants (successfully completed Minnesota Statutes §152.18)
(c) others where the charge “decision in defendants favor.”  Appellate cases define this simply as “no guilty plea”
(d)  certain cases specified where there was a conviction, after a specified period

See Minnesota Statutes §609A.02.  The remedy is only “sealing” the “public” records (not return of records as with §299C.11).  And, what the court seals, it can unseal by future court order, in the event of future criminal investigation.  But it is “non-public” in the meantime.

Limitations on the value of a 609A expungement:  The statute has a growing list of exceptions, in Subd. 7a “Limitations of order.”  And these include the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Department of Education.  So, a person anticipating an occupational license should beware. 

As a result, if you want a job working with children, vulnerable adults, law enforcement or teaching consider this before filing.  And you should flag any of these concerns to your Minnesota expungement lawyer.

General observations

When you ask the Minnesota Pardons Board for a pardon, or a judge for an expungement, what are persuasive factors?

  1. The nature of the offense of conviction
  2. The passage of time, without other convictions
  3. Evidence of rehabilitation and lack of threat to public safety

People are more willing to forgive a less serious crime than the most serious crimes.  And time is the great healer.  So, we are more forgiving of sins from long ago.

Can you reassure the Board or the judge that you are not a threat to public safety in the future?  Is there evidence you can point to?  So, just living a productive, law abiding life since then, can go a long way.

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What next? Question for an expungement lawyer?

Is one of the several types of Minnesota expungement Orders right for you?  Or, what about an alternative, like: 

  • a pardon extraordinary or 
  • a court motion to withdraw a guilty plea, vacate a conviction, and dismiss a charge?