Minnesota’s new expungement law went into effect on January 1, 2015. It is widely acclaimed as a “second chance” law for those attempting to seal their criminal records. The new law relaxes the rules and makes a wide range of cases eligible for expungement.[1] Hence, giving people a “second chance” to clear their criminal record and increase their ability to find employment and housing.

Just last month, on July 15th, another wave of cases was made eligible for expungement.[2] These cases include: domestic abuse, sexual assault, violating an order for protection, violating a harassment restraining order, stalking, and violating a domestic abuse no contact order (Minn. Stat. §609.02, subd. 3(c). The inclusion of these crimes now casts an even wider net for the types of offenses eligible for expungement under the new law.

Now, domestic abuse-related offenses are subject to the same expungement conditions as other petty misdemeanors, misdemeanors, and gross misdemeanors:

  • Petty Misdemeanors and Misdemeanors:
    • (1) received conviction, or stayed sentence; and
    • (2) no new convictions for at least two years after discharge of sentence
  • Gross Misdemeanors:
    • (1) received conviction, or stayed sentence; and
    • (2) no new convictions for at least four years after discharge of sentence

Generally, the discharge of a person’s sentence means they successfully completed probation. Then, depending on the level of offense, two or four years from that date a person is eligible for expunge (or clear) their criminal record, so long as they have no new convictions since completing probation.

Some domestic-abuse related offenses are enhanceable, which means subsequent offenses can be more severe. Because of this characteristic, it is possible prosecutors will object to sealing someone’s domestic-abuse related criminal record. Since the “second-chance” law went into effect on January 1st, it is unclear whether other enhanceable offenses, such as DWIs, are now expungeable. Further guidance on the issue will very likely come in the near future from Minnesota’s appellate courts along with other recent applications of these new expungement provisions.

For now, the reading of Minnesota’s new expungement law makes it very clear that many criminal offenses can be sealed from someone’s criminal record. The time is now to file a petition, especially if the person seeking expungement has compelling reasons to clear their criminal record, such as employment barriers, licensing issues, access to housing, or other life obstacles. Judges who did not previously grant expungement motions, but really wanted to, now have a compelling legal basis to do so. Many want to give people a second chance, especially if they prove themselves under this new expungement law.

For more information on expungements in Minnesota, including how to obtain your criminal record from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, visit the Council on Crime Justice’s website. Additionally, feel free to contact our office by phone at 612-547-3199 or email: ambroselegal@icloud.com for a consultation at no charge.

Robert H. Ambrose is a criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis. He handles expungements across the state of Minnesota. He provides affordable, aggressive, and understanding representation all while attaining an impeccable client satisfaction rating.   

[1] Most misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and over fifty felonies are now eligible for expungement (Minn. Stat. § 609.02).

[2] The legislature provided an extended release date of July 15, 2015 for the ability to expunge domestic-abuse related cases, because it would allow the legislature to make any amendments to the law, if it chose to. No amendments were made, however, and this law is now in effect. Confirmation provided by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes today.


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