Minnesota - Expungement

What is Expungement?

Minnesota offers "expungement" of some adult criminal history records. In Minnesota, an expunged record is not deleted, but it is hidden from the public. The state limits who can see an expunged record. Employers, landlords, and banks will not see an expunged record. Criminal justice system agencies such as courts and law enforcement have access to expunged records. 

Minnesota law also allows expungement of juvenile records. These records can be seen only by a court order.

Who is Eligible for Expungement?

You are eligible to have a record expunged for certain offenses if the charges were "resolved in your favor." This means that the charges were dismissed or you were found not guilty. Under a Minnesota statute, you can also expunge arrests without going to court. Some convictions are also eligible for expungement.

To be eligible to expunge a conviction, one of the following situations must apply:

  • You were convicted of a certain controlled-substance offense;
  • You completed a diversion program or had a stay of adjudication, and you have had no new convictions for at least one year;
  • You were convicted of a petty misdemeanor or a misdemeanor, and you have had no new convictions for at least two years;
  • You were convicted or received a stayed sentence for a gross misdemeanor, and you have had no new convictions for at least four years;
  • You were convicted or received a stayed sentence for a certain felony, and you have had no new convictions for at least five years; or
  • You were a juvenile but prosecuted as an adult.

For a list of felonies that are eligible for expungement, visit the Office of Minnesota Attorney General's website here: Expungement of Criminal Records.

If you are uncertain whether you are eligible for expungement, consult an attorney.

What Effect Does Expungement Have?

Once a Minnesota court grants an expungement, the court orders all state agencies that hold the record to seal it.

Your record of arrest, conviction, dismissal, or acquittal is sealed and no longer available to the public. The expunged record is not deleted. In most cases, you can legally deny being arrested or convicted. The record remains available to law enforcement agencies, courts, and state agencies that are required by law to review criminal history records of job applicants.

When Can I Apply for Expungement?

You can apply for expungement of a conviction only after you have completed your sentence. You must count from whatever date is the most recent such as the date of conviction, completion of sentence, completion of probation or parole, or final payment of restitution, and then wait for several years. 

Here is when you can apply for expungement:

  • If your case was resolved in your favor such as acquittal or dismissal, there is no wait.
  • If you completed a diversion program or your adjudication was stayed, you must wait one year.
  • If you were convicted of a petty misdemeanor or a misdemeanor, you must wait two years.
  • If you were convicted or your sentence was stayed for a gross misdemeanor, you must wait four years.
  • If you were convicted or your sentence was stayed for a certain felony, you must wait five years. 

To be eligible of the above situations, you cannot be convicted of any new crimes during the waiting period. If you are, then the waiting period starts over from your completion of that sentence.

How Do I Apply for Expungement?

Here are the seven general steps to apply for expungement of a conviction:

  1. Get the expungement packet of forms from the court.
  2. Complete the forms and collect any necessary documents.
  3. File your expungement petition with the required forms with the clerk of the court.  
  4. Pay the filing fee. Although there is no fee for expungement, courts charge filing fees. These fees vary. If you cannot pay the filing fee, you have the right to have the fee waived. To get a fee waiver, file a petition to "proceed as an indigent person." This means you have a low income and cannot afford the fee. File this petition form with the clerk. The judge will decide if you qualify for a fee waiver.
  5. Send or deliver another complete petition to the prosecuting attorney. The prosecutor will notify any victims. Minnesota law requires that the prosecutor and victims have the opportunity to object to your expungement petition.
  6. Wait at least 60 days. This is how long the prosecutor and victims have to file objections to your expungement petition.
  7. Go to the hearing at the court. If the judge denies your petition, you may appeal within 60 days. If the judge grants your petition, the court will order all agencies with your record to seal it.

Here are the two steps to expunge an arrest without going to court:

  1. Ask the agency with the arrest record to expunge it. The agencies with arrest records include the police department, city and county attorneys, the county sheriff, and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).
  2. Write a letter to the law enforcement agency. For a sample letter, visit the BCA website here: Sample Expungement Letter.

More Information About Expungement

For more information about 299C.11 expungement and links to sample form letters, visit the Minnesota Judicial Branch website here: Expunge Arrest Records.   

Related Links

Minnesota Judicial Branch
The Office of Minnesota Attorney General