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What Do You Really Know about Expungement?

Minneapolis Expungement Lawyer

We’re heading back to school for a true/false quiz, as we look at what you really know about Expungement. Read on to learn what’s true and what’s false.

  • Expungement means the court destroys my criminal record. False. Expungement in Minnesota means that the court seals your criminal record, not destroys it.
  • No one can see my criminal record after it’s expunged. False. Public officials, the FBI, immigration authorities can all see your criminal record for certain purposes even after expungement. Most employers and landlords will not see the expunged record.
  • All criminal records are eligible for expungement. False. Cases where the offender must register as a sex offender are never eligible for expungement.
  • I can get an expungement for any reason. Technically true, but expungement is never guaranteed. You have to convince the judge that the benefit to you of a sealed record outweighs the benefit to society to continue to have access to your criminal record. Judges weigh a number of factors, including recommendations by law enforcement and crime victims, to come to their decision. Most people ask for an expungement after their criminal record resulted in their denial for a job, housing, or a professional license.
  • Speeding tickets are not eligible for expungement. True. Speeding tickets are not generally considered a criminal act under Minnesota law and, therefore, not eligible for expungement.
  • Courts are not the only offices to keep criminal records. True. In addition, police, prosecutors, Department of Human Services, and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) all keep criminal records. BCA is often the go-to place for people conducting background checks.
  • If the court expunges my criminal record, the court seals my record at every government office. False, unless you are eligible for a full expungement. A full expungement seals criminal records at all government offices, including the BCA, police departments, Department of Corrections, and other government agencies. CAVEAT: Full expungement only applies in certain cases, such as first time drug offenses resolved under certain laws; juvenile offenders tried as adults; cases where the verdict was not guilty or the case dismissed; other cases prescribed by law. If your case does not qualify for full expungement, then the court will only seal its own records. Full expungement only applies to those felonies as specifically set out in the law.
  • Asking for an expungement is easy. True, but only if filling out court forms and arranging for service on the government agency (like a prosecutor) is easy to you. The process also takes about four months to have the hearing and, even if the judge agrees to seal the records, another 60 days will elapse before the court actually seals the records.
  • I just file the expungement forms and that’s it. True, but only sometimes. The court will let you know after you file and serve the appropriate papers whether you do not have to appear in court for a hearing. In most cases, you will have to appear in court at a hearing to present your case.
  • The court can order other government agencies to expunge my criminal record. True, but only in certain circumstances. Under Minnesota law, the court’s authority extends to ordering government agencies to seal their records. First, you must properly serve your expungement request forms on the agency. Then, the court will hear any agency objections to sealing your records. Generally, the court will base its decision on the type of crime involved, the charge/conviction, length of time since you completed the sentence, and whether you have other crimes on your record.


The information presented in this article is not considered legal advice. Please contact our law office to speak to an attorney about your case.