Expungement is simply a fancy name for the court process that results in the sealing of a criminal conviction so that it cannot be seen by the general public. Many people who screwed up when they were younger by having something they should not have had (think drugs), or doing something they should not have done (think shoplift) run into problems finding jobs or renting apartments later. This is because the potential employers and landlords are running a criminal background check through the Beaureau of Criminal Aprehension (BCA), and seeing the old criminal convictions. As a result the person does not get hired, or are told they cannot rent the apartment.
How to get an expungement.
It is not necessarily easy to get a criminal conviction expunged from your record. First you must prepare and file a petition with the court. This requires payment of the filing fee, which in most counties is currently around $300. However, you may ask that this fee be waived if you are considered low income. Then you must convince the judge at a hearing that the potential benefit you will gain from an expungement outweighs the burden to the public of sealing your record.
Grounds for expungement
A judge can grant your expungement request if it is either supported by statuory authority, or the judge uses his/her inherent authority. The type of authority used by the judge to support the expungement is extremely important. If the judge uses statutory authority to seal your record, then all records within the courthouse and at the BCA will be hidden from the general public. That means that a potential employer or landlord will not be able to see your past criminal conviction when they run your criminal background check. However, if the judge uses his/her inherent authority to seal your record, then only the records contained within the courthouse will be sealed. If the potential employer or landlord runs a criminal background check with the BCA, he/she will still be able to see the past criminal conviction.
The differnces between statutory authority and inherent authority are explained in a separte blog post. So please refer to that post or call me for further explanation.
Carol Mayer is an experienced criminal defense attorney representing clients throughout the state of Minnesota including the cities of Arlington, Gaylord, Glencoe, Green Isle, Winthrop, Mankato, Chaska and Hutchinson.