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Minnesota Court Records

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Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in Minnesota

Residents of Minnesota who have a criminal record are likely to experience difficulty while seeking scholarship benefits, housing, loans, employment, and higher education. Having a criminal record expunged or sealed offers these persons a new lease on life. Minnesota state laws permit the expungement of criminal records provided all the eligibility criteria are fulfilled.

Two different Minnesota statutes address expunging or sealing of criminal histories from the state’s criminal justice system. The first law, section 299C.11, pertains to arrest documents that are held by law enforcement authorities. The second statute, Ch. 609A, refers to all criminal records maintained by entities within the criminal system.

The Difference Between Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records

The only difference between sealing and expunging a criminal background record is that when a document is sealed, the file becomes restricted from public access. However, expungement is the destruction or complete removal of a person’s history from the public domain. The Minnesota state constitution allows convicts who meet the requirements to get their records expunged either by statute or by the state’s Minnesota justice system’s inherent authority.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Seal a Criminal Record in Minnesota

Whether or not a criminal record can be sealed depends on the provisions of the state constitution or the court’s approach when interpreting its inherent power. For instance, If it is proven that the accessibility of the record violated a petitioner’s rights, the court can exercise its inherent expungement power. This also applies to cases involving the abuse of discretion from an entity under the Minnesota criminal justice system.

Below are the criteria for a criminal record to be sealed:

  • Cases which did not end in a plea of guilt or conviction
  • Cases in which the offender completed either the stay of adjudication or the diversion terms
  • If a convicts crime passes for expungement as stated in section 609A (subd.3) and the stipulated time has been exceeded
  • If the individual was indicted for the crime of possessing a controlled substance and the proceedings were dismissed
  • If the individual was a juvenile that got prosecuted as an adult
  • If the pardons board did grant the person a pardon, extraordinary
  • Suppose formal charges were not filed by the prosecutor or an indictment by the grand jury if they were not convicted of a gross misdemeanor or felony in the U.S for ten years (minimum) before petitioning

As stated in section 609A.025, an individual’s criminal record can be sealed without any petition being filed as long as the prosecutor agrees to it. Below are the requirements:

  • If the prosecutor agrees to seal the record and the person concerned meets the requirements described in section 609A. 02 (sub. 3) of the Minnesota statute.
  • All crime victims must be notified of the proposed agreement and their right to object to sealing the criminal record.
  • If the criteria are met, the agreement to seal a criminal record can occur after or before dismissing charges.

What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Minnesota

Minnesota state law allows for conviction and non-conviction cases to be expunged. The following are crimes that qualify for expungement in the state:

  • Possession of a controlled substance where the hearing got dismissed
  • Crimes where the person was a juvenile but was prosecuted as an adult
  • Crimes not classified under either a gross misdemeanor or felony

How to Expunge Criminal Records in Minnesota

Interested persons are required to get a set of expungement(seal) forms per criminal case. These forms are:

  • 3-page petition for expungement (seal) and a hearing notice
  • 2-page sealing of criminal records order. This serves both conviction or non-conviction cases
  • 1-page affidavit of service

Individuals may only seek to seal their criminal records in the county where the crime was committed, and all documents regarding criminality must be listed in the petition. The printouts of the person’s criminal case should be gathered (criminal instances in which the individual was convicted and otherwise) before the forms are completed. Concerned parties must make sure they get all records, both in the U.S and any other country. Interested parties are advised to contact the Minnesota Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA)

Procedures For Sealing a Criminal Record in Minnesota

1. Fill all the forms carefully and attach all the necessary documents. (For example, evidence of rehabilitation).

2. Attach past petition(s) for record sealing, if any.

3. Make copies of the forms, then sign them in the presence of a court clerk or notary. Then send each copy to the proper agency (from the affidavit of service list)

4. The Minnesota court rules that individuals seeking to expunge their records must not do the “service of process” themselves. Therefore, find another person to help with mailing the petition.

5. one or two days after mailing the copies to the agencies, take the original petition to the county court and file them. A fee of $200 must be paid to the court clerk. However, the applicable fee is dependent on if the petitioner was convicted or not.

6. Attend the courthouse hearing

The presiding judge considers the effect it will have on the community if the petition is approved and the applicant’s benefits. However, if the judge agrees to expungement, the criminal record will be sealed in 60 days (beginning from the date of the judge’s approval).

Do Sealed Records Show up In Minnesota Background Checks?

No, sealed criminal records do not show up on Minnesota background checks. The Minnesota courts have the legal power to order the criminal records in the state’s judicial branch to be sealed or destroyed. However, the court has limited authority to seal records kept by the other government branches in the state, according to the Minnesota house of representatives (information brief).. An individual’s sealed record can also be opened if the court issues an “ex parte order.” This happens if the document is linked to a subsequent criminal investigation, sentencing, or prosecution.

Who Can See Sealed Criminal Records in Minnesota

After an individual’s record gets sealed in Minnesota, some privileged persons may still view it if such an individual is granted a court order. However, an expunged criminal record of conviction may be accessed without a court order. Below is a list persons who can be granted access to an expunged record:

  • The prosecutor
  • Correctional authorities
  • The Minnesota criminal justice agencies
  • The victim of the offense that was sealed

How to Obtain Sealed Records in Minnesota

Requesters may petition the appropriate Minnesota court to seek an order to reopen a sealed record. The petition should include evidence that can convince the judge to approve. Requesters will have to present a valid means of identification and also prepare to get their fingerprints taken. The files may also be accessed, without a court order, under Section 609A—03 (Subdivision 7) of the Minnesota law.

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