Change in Minnesota Expungement Laws Could Wipe Criminal Records Clean
Currently in Minnesota, juveniles who are charged as adults and adults that are charged with certain low-level drug crimes can have their criminal records expunged. This means that they are able to have the records sealed so that employers, landlords, and others in the public cannot see the criminal record. The only ones that are able to see expunged records are law enforcement.
Through expungement in Minnesota, a person gets another chance after being convicted of a crime. Without the ability to expunge, those that qualify for it would have difficulty getting a job, finding a place to live, going back to school, and reaching other goals that require background checks. This could have a negative impact on the rest of their lives.
But now, state legislators are considering expanding expungement in an effort to give other individuals a chance at a better future.
Supporters have stated that this would help low-level offenders find housing and jobs.
In one story, an Albert Lea man was working as a bartender at a local bar. He had been bartending about two weeks and he was caught up in a liquor sting that was conducted by law enforcement.
The man had failed to check the ID of a minor who had been sent into the establishment by police. The bartender was then charged with serving alcohol to a minor, which is a misdemeanor. This has stuck with him ever since and has caused him to pay the consequences years after the fact.
The man has stayed home since the birth of his daughter. After five years of not working, he wishes to look for a new job and is very worried that this very minor criminal offense will interfere with his chances to gain meaningful employment. In a job market that is already tight, the man is competing with individuals who do not have flaws on their records. This could give others an edge regardless of their qualifications.
Lawmakers hope to help individuals in this situation. In addition to expanding the number of people who can qualify and benefit for expungement, lawmakers are also looking at how the different agencies keep records. They need to look at the keeping of records because there are situations that pop up once in a while that involve a person’s criminal record still showing up on a background check because the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension still has those records. The record can be sealed everywhere else except for there.
One lawmaker said that judges have felt frustrated that the law has prohibited them from helping individuals who pose no danger to society and simply want their flawed past behind them.
In the case of the former bartender, he said that he just hopes that until the law is changed, an employer will see his value and not hold the minor slip-up against him. He is hoping that someone will take a chance.
With the legislature not being in session yet, it is not sure how the proposal to expand expungement in Minnesota will turn out. Legal experts, on the other hand, said it is something that lawmakers and judges have been looking at for a while because of the change being overdue.
Please contact our attorney for the most up to date information regarding the current laws. This article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.