Even after serving one’s full sentence, many ex-convicts continue to face punishment. Landlords, loan officers and hiring managers sometimes think twice before doing business with a person who has spent time in prison.

Individuals cannot do much to change a person’s opinion, but those with a criminal record have options. Many people can petition the Minnesota government for expungement. This legal process seals one’s criminal record from public view or removes the record entirely.

How does the expungement process work?

Individuals can petition the district court of their conviction to expunge it from their record. Not every conviction is eligible, either. Minnesotans can file for expungement in the following situations:

  • Though arrested, the court did not charge the individual, dismissed the charges, found the defendant not guilty, or other non-conviction.
  • An individual completed their terms of diversion, a stay of adjudication, or continuance for dismissal.
  • An individual committed a misdemeanor (petty or gross) or a felony that qualifies.

Those with qualifying situations can begin the five-step process toward expungement:

  1. Fill out Notice of Hearing and Petition for Expungement form: Minnesotans can obtain a Petition for Expungement online or from their local courthouse. A petitioner must fill out one form for each item they wish expunged. Expect to pay a fee and submit the petition to the courthouse of the conviction(s).
  2. Fill out Proposed Order to Expunge Criminal Records form: Courts require one of this form for each instance of expungement.
  3. Serve government agencies: Send a copy of each form for each potential expungement to every involved government agencies. The agency will either support or oppose an expungement.
  4. Complete a Proof of Service form: This form shows that the petitioner informed all relevant parties and is ready to proceed with the hearing. File everything with the District Court.
  5. Attend the hearing: The petitioner will attend the hearing where a judge will hear arguments for or against expungement and make their ruling.

Bring questions to a local attorney

Those looking to begin the expungement process can reach out to a local lawyer familiar with criminal defense. An attorney can help their client obtain and complete documents, inform all relevant government agencies and even represent their client at a hearing.