Expungement of Criminal Records in the State of Minnesota


What is expungement?


Expungement is a legal process allowed by the federal government of the United States whereby a person who has been arrested and charged with a crime is granted the ability to remove the documentation of their crime from their record. In doing this, the record would no longer be accessible by the general public or by any agencies of law enforcement for general use. The only access granted would be for specific officials of the government, and only then under certain circumstances as outlined under the law.

Why would someone want their record expunged?


If you have a criminal record that is open to the public, anyone who does a background check on you will be able to see it. This means that every time you apply for a job, housing, credit, bank loans, or even some licenses for professional organizations, there is a greater likelihood that they will turn you down because your criminal history will make them believe that you pose a bigger risk than someone without one. Beyond that, simply having a criminal history can bar you from some licenses if they know your history.

But with your record expunged, public agencies doing background checks won’t be able to see a criminal record for you at all, so as far as they know one doesn’t even exist.

How does expungement work in Minnesota?


Just because the federal government allows expungement doesn’t mean they dictate how it works, and in fact each state handles it on their own terms – with some refusing to let people expunge their records at all! Thankfully, Minnesota does grant expungement for certain crimes under certain circumstances.

If a Minnesota arrest is dismissed due to probable cause, because the jury doesn’t return an indictment, or because the prosecutor in the case decides not to file charges, these are considered expungeable offenses. Records that can be expunged in these cases include things like:


  • Photographs
  • Fingerprints
  • Establishing data
  • Any particulars that surround the case


If expunged, all of this is available to be returned to the offender at their request.


But just because the case is eligible for expungement under Minnesota law does not mean that the person also meets requirements. Anyone seeking expungement cannot have been charged with a gross misdemeanor or a felony within the 10 years previous to their request to have a file expunged.

Those who cannot meet the requirements laid down by Minnesota law may not have their records expunged, but there is another process that they can use to have their records removed: court sealing. Under Minnesota Law 609A.01, court sealing means that all access to your records and any other information will be refused unless access is ordered by the authority given in a statute or by the court itself.

Does Minnesota have more specific rules about which crimes can be expunged, and for who?


Absolutely. Just like in most other states around the country, Minnesota has different standards for its juvenile offenders and their records. When the juvenile turns 17 or 18, it is possible to fully erase their criminal records for almost every case.


  • Juvenile delinquency adjudication – eligible for expungement so long as the case doesn’t involve putting the juvenile in a correctional facility
  • Juveniles prosecuted as adults – eligible so long as they have been released from fulfilling their probation terms or were release from correctional facilities
  • Juveniles with adjudications of minor petty offenses are also eligible


It is also possible for some adult drug offenders to receive records sealing as well. To qualify, they have to be first-time offenders and have their sentences deferred. Some specific drug possession charges could also qualify in Minnesota. For either of these situations, in order to apply for expungement, the individual must have had the determination go in their favor for all of their actions and court proceedings. And, as was previously stated, these individuals cannot have had any convictions for felonies or gross misdemeanors in the 10 years leading up to the request.


If, however, court proceedings are decided in favor of the individual without a verdict of not guilty due to mental illness, the records are ineligible for expungement. Cases where the person is required to register as a sex offender also fall under this category. Rather than being expunged, all records detailing the trial, indictment, arrest, and verdict are sealed, and any DNA information relating to a probable cause charge will also not be expunged.

How can someone expunge their Minnesota records?


In order to be granted expungement, an individual must file a petition to the court where his or her case was handled. The petition must include information such as:


  • Personal information (name, DOB, address)
  • The reason an expungement is being requested
  • Details of the offense (charges, orders, trial number, names of victims)
  • Information on the individual’s rehabilitation progress
  • Personal history
  • Criminal convictions
  • Any prior requests concerning the case
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