In January 2015, a new expungement standard came into effect in Minnesota. The law expanded the types of crimes eligible for expungement. It also gave courts broader power to seal records of State agencies instead of limiting the court to sealing its records anymore.
As with any new law, there were some gaps that left lawyers and judges with questions. The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently answered one of the big questions: how should the court treat felony convictions later deemed misdemeanors under Minn. Stat. § 609.13, subd. 1(2). The question was how should the court treat the conviction: is it a felony or misdemeanor for expungement purposes? If the conviction is a misdemeanor, a person petition for expungement after only two (2) years of having a clean record after he or she is discharged from probation. Any misdemeanor is currently eligible for expungement under the new law. However, if the conviction is permanently deemed a felony, the person may only apply for an expungement if the felony is one of the fifty (50) enumerated in Minn. Stat. 609A.02, subd. 3 (5)(2016). Even then, if the felony is one of the fifty eligible offenses, a person must have a clean criminal record for five (5) years after probation discharges the person. This can mean for some that a person must have a clean record for ten years before seeking an expungement.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals weakened the statute and its ability to help people move forward with their lives in State v. S.A.M. The court ruled that that a felony conviction later deemed a misdemeanor under Minn. Stat. § 609.13, subd. 1(2) may only be eligible for expungement if it is one of the fifty (50) felonies eligible for expungement. Although this is not the news the defense bar was hoping for, an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court may be in the cards.
This ruling has no impact on the other parts of the expungement statute. If you wish to seal a record for an indiscretion that may harm your ability to seek work, apply for benefits under the law, or simply embarrasses you, please contact Wilson Law Group. We can help you continue moving forward instead of having to look over your shoulder.