Even minor criminal convictions carry consequences far beyond jail time, probation, and fines. Many criminal convictions terminate student aid eligibility. Other convictions make it difficult, or impossible, to pursue certain careers, find a good job, or even find a place to live.
In 2015, Minnesota lawmakers significantly expanded the state’s expungement program. Now, many more offenders are eligible for at least partial relief from many of the aforementioned collateral consequences of criminal convictions.
As a precursor to expungement, especially in felony inherent authority expungements, St. Paul criminal defense attorneys often file motions for early discharge from probation. Generally, if the probationer has served at least half the time, has fully paid all fines and restitution, and has demonstrated generally good conduct, the probation officer will endorse this motion. That endorsement is usually all a Ramsey County judge wants to see.
Motions for early discharge have benefits all their own. Probation is expensive, time-consuming, and intrusive. With a successful motion for early discharge, a St. Paul criminal defense attorney can make all these problems go away.
Under the new expungement law, courts have almost unlimited authority to expunge their own records. Some factors to consider include:
MN inherent authority expungements are limited to judicial records. So, these petitions only take care of prosecution and conviction records. Executive branch records, such as BCA records, are unaffected.
Many times, the conviction record is all that matters. That’s normally the case with regard to student aid eligibility. Usually, an arrest does not cut off funding. Additionally, if anyone asks about the arrest records, a simple explanation like “I hired a lawyer and the lawyer took care of it” usually ends the inquiries.
Inherent authority expungements are a little like record sealing procedures in some other jurisdictions. The effect is limited, but it is much, much better than nothing.
If the charges were dismissed prior to a determination of probable cause, which is not uncommon, defendants may purge fingerprint, photograph, and other non-DNA identification data from law enforcement databases without even filing a petition. If the charges were resolved in the defendant’s favor, the defendant may file a petition. If the judge grants the petition, the same result occurs.
“Charges resolved in the defendant’s favor” is a common phrase in Minnesota expungement matters, but its meaning is not set in stone. Generally, the phrase means that the defendant did not plead guilty or no contest and the defendant was not placed on probation. Pretrial diversion requirements, such as community service or anger management classes, do not count as probation. The Ramsey County probation office does not assume jurisdiction over these matters.
The “resolved in favor of petitioner” phrase is better defined in this subsection. This condition includes any of the following:
Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, Subdivision 3 contains a long list of eligible offenses. They are nearly all white-collar crimes, including such malfeasance as theft, falsifying government documents, and cattle rustlin’. There are also some oddballs, such as fleeing the state to avoid a paternity judgment and attempted assault of a police horse. A few firearms and arson offenses are on the list as well.
Such records can be sealed if the defendant successfully completed probation or has been otherwise “discharged.” Technically, a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer can file a MN inherent authority expungement petition and accomplish the same thing. But juvenile sealing procedures are objective and straightforward. If the defendant meets the qualifications, expungement is automatic.
Addiction is never a defense to drug possession or drug-related crimes. However, Minnesota law recognizes the fact that addiction precipitates many of these crimes. So, defendants are eligible for records sealing if they received deferred prosecution for:
Once again, this expungement applies only to the judicial records and not to the law enforcement or other records.
A defense attorney’s job does not end after the judge’s gavel falls. For a free consultation with experienced St. Paul criminal defense attorneys, contact Capitol City Law Group, LLC. We routinely handle cases in Ramsey County and nearby jurisdictions.