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Minnesota’s Second Chance Law Now in Effect

People make mistakes. Unfortunately, those mistakes can stick around to haunt them when it comes to qualifying for specific job opportunities, housing or other necessities in life.

But, Minnesota’s Second Chance Law aims to provide some help in that area. The new law just went into effect Jan. 1, 2015 and replaces the previous expungement law. The new law dramatically expands the statutory grounds for an expungement to encompass convictions of all levels of crimes—including felonies.

When an expungement is granted a person’s criminal record is sealed and that person does not have to disclose their criminal records on applications or background checks for housing or employment discrimination and more opportunities—resulting in less discrimination and more opportunities.

How to qualify for expungement

The individual must qualify and petition for the expungement of their record. This can be a long process of creating solid evidence that the individual and society will benefit from their records being concealed. There are 12 factors that the court uses to address the individuals ability to succeed in from this expungement. Some examples include:

  • Is the individual a potential risk to society?
  • Was the individual a minor?
  • What steps have they taken since their crime?
  • The individual’s past employment
  • The details of the crime wanting to be expunged
  • The individuals overall criminal record
  • The individual’s participation in the community
  • How long ago the crime was committed
  • Any recommendations from law or correctional officers
  • Why does the individual want their crimes expunged?

Another crucial piece of evidence for being approved is having no new convictions.The petitioner must complete some sort of diversion program or stay of adjudication and be crime-free for a year after that program.

Different crimes also have different waiting periods. If the individual was convicted of a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor, they must have two years of no new convictions. For the conviction of a gross misdemeanor it’s four years. As for felonies, there are currently 50 nonviolent felonies that can be expunged under the new law, including fraudulent driver’s license, failure to appear in court, and embezzlement of public funds of $2,500 or less. In addition, the petitioner must have no new convictions for five years.

The new law comes with some ambiguities as well. For example, the waiting periods and when these periods will start (Does it begin at the discharge of sentence or the date the expungement petition was filed?). Ever case is different and your lawyer can help you gather appropriate evidence for the best representation and chance of expungement.

It’s also important to note the law does not apply to crimes of domestic violence such as domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking and violations of protection or restraining orders at this time. When the bill was put through last year, the legislature couldn’t agree on whether to handle these sorts of crime separately from nonviolent crimes, and ran out of time. Legislators could take up the action again in the 2015 session, but if nothing is added then domestic violence crimes would be eligible for expungement July 15, 2015.

For more information on the new law, click here.