The Second Chance Expungement Law, which greatly improves the expungement law in Minnesota, was signed by Governor Mark Dayton on Wednesday. The new law, HF 2576, expands eligibility for a statutory expungement to those convicted of some misdemeanors and felonies. In doing so, the law allows judges to expunge all criminal records of those convictions, including records held by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), and not just the court records as the previous law permitted.
Minnesota Capitol Building
Photo by Michael Hicks
Another important provision of the new law requires background check companies to promptly remove the record of a case once notified that it has been expunged. The juvenile expungement law was also improved; a juvenile expungement now applies to all records relating to the arrest and not just the court records.
Previous MN Expungement Law Provided Limited Relief
In Minnesota, there are two types of expungement, statutory expungement and inherent authority expungement. Under the previous law, a statutory expungement was only available to certain drug offenders, juveniles that were prosecuted as adults, and individuals that were not convicted. Inherent authority was the type of expungement available to those with a conviction.
Approximately one year ago, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that an inherent authority expungement only expunges the court records and not the executive branch records (including the BCA). Under that case and the previous Minnesota expungement law, an expunged conviction would still appear on the defendant’s BCA report. The expungement relief was very limited and that case made expanding the eligibility for a statutory expungement essential.
Passage of HF 2576 Makes Huge Improvements to Expungement Law
With the passage of HF 2576, convictions and cases for which the offender completed a diversion program or stay of adjudication are eligible for statutory expungement under Minnesota Statutes, section 609A.02. This new law is going to be hugely beneficial for former offenders in Minnesota, because now those with a conviction can get their record completely expunged, including having the case removed from their BCA report.
Eligibility Under the New Law
The new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2015, greatly expands the eligibility for statutory expungement. Petitioners that completed a diversion program or stay of adjudication and have not been charged with a new crime for at least one year since completion of the program or stay of adjudication are eligible.
Additionally, a wide range of convictions is eligible for expungement under the new law. To be eligible you must satisfy a waiting period, during which you must be free of convictions. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor, the waiting period is two years since discharge of the sentence. For a gross misdemeanor, the waiting period is four years since discharge of the sentence; and for a felony, the waiting period is five years since discharge of the sentence. Only certain felony convictions are eligible and the list of eligible offenses does not include “person offenses” or “crimes of violence.”
HF 2576 is a huge improvement for the expungement laws in Minnesota. Once the law goes into effect on January 1, it is going to benefit countless Minnesotans by giving them a second chance and allowing them to be better able to secure jobs and housing. For some more information, please see our previous article on HF 2576.
To see if you are currently eligible for an expungement, please take our free online eligibility test.