How to Expunge my Public Records in Minnesota

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A public record can be deleted in Minnesota by contacting the record custodian maintaining the record. However, not all public records are authorized to be removed from public access. Only certain court records, containing confidential information, and records authorized to be deleted by a state statute may be deleted. Also, a record may also be deleted if the record subject can provide a justifiable reason why the record should be deleted. A public record may be deleted through expungement, sealing, and redaction. In all these cases, the record becomes restricted and inaccessible to the general public at the state and county repositories.

Note that there are cases where the record is not entirely deleted, only the confidential sections of the record containing the record subject’s social security numbers and medical information are redacted. Individuals may seek to have their records deleted due to any of these reasons:

  • To restrict access to a record that violates their privacy rights
  • To hide a public record that contains vital details that may have an adverse effect on their image
  • To protect the sensitive details included in their records, which may put them or their family members, or properties at risk, if left open to the general public
  • To protect their confidential details such as social security numbers, medical and financial information
  • To protect the identity of a minor by concealing their details if contained in a public record

What is a Public Record in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, public records refer to all data generated, received, kept, and issued by government bodies irrespective of their material, storage method, and conditions of use. The Minnesota Open Records Law authorizes residents to inspect and obtain copies of public records maintained by the government at the different county and state repositories across Minnesota. Fees may be requested when seeking to obtain public records. The fee will be used for the production of the public records requested. Court records, vital records, arrest records, criminal records, inmate records, etc. are some types of public records in Minnesota.

Access to public records in Minnesota, allows residents to measure and track the performance of the government, ensuring that the government remains open and accountable to them. However, the Open Records Act does not cover every public record. Certain records may be exempted from public access under the law. Examples of such records include:

  • Medical records
  • Investigation records
  • Trade secrets and confidential financial or commercial information
  • Test questions and examination data on academic examinations, employment, licensing, or Law enforcement investigation records, criminal intelligence information, or security procedures
  • Security plans

Does Minnesota Allow Expungement?

Yes, Minnesota permits the expungement of public records, although certain conviction records such as severe felonies may not be expunged in the state. Some criminal conviction records have time limits that must be fulfilled before a petition to expunge will be approved. For instance, to qualify to expunge a gross misdemeanor, you must have stayed crime-free and have not been convicted of a new offense for at least four years after the completion of your initial sentence.

How Do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Minnesota?

Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 609A governs the expungement of criminal records maintained by the criminal justice system, in addition to Minnesota Statutes, Section 299C.11, which regulates the expungement of arrest records maintained by law enforcement agencies.

Arrest records may be expunged pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Section 299C.11, if proceedings in the criminal justice system were terminated at an early stage. Particularly, if

  • The individual was not declared guilty of a felony or gross misdemeanor in the last 10 years prior to the arrest; and
  • All unresolved criminal proceedings pertaining to the arrest were decided in favor of the arrested person, the prosecutor refused to file charges, and no grand jury indictment was returned in the case, or the charges were dismissed before a probable cause determination was made in the case

Note that an individual’s charges being dismissed after a guilty plea, admission of guilt, or stay of adjudication does not imply that the individual’s criminal and arrest records will be deleted.

In any of the above cases, the individual is authorized to seek that the records be deleted at the law enforcement agency, or that the court orders the expungement of the records under Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 609A.

There are limitations to the destruction of arrest records. Arrest records will not be destroyed in any of these cases:

  • The arrested person successfully concluded a diversion program
  • The record was sealed pursuant to the expungement law
  • A pardon was granted
  • The individual concluded their sentence and was restored to civil rights under Minnesota Statutes, Section 609.165

Other limitations and eligibility requirements are listed in Chapter 609A and Section 299C.11.

However, note that individuals convicted of predatory crimes or other crimes for which registration under the predatory offender registration act is required may not qualify to have their records expunged. Some examples of these predatory crimes include murder while committing forcible sexual conduct, felony-level criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, etc.

Follow these steps provided by the Minnesota Judicial Branch to expunge a criminal or arrest record:

  1. Get your complete criminal case history for all the cases where you were charged with any type of crime, even those that did not lead to a conviction. The case histories can be gotten from Minnesota District Courts. If you have criminal case histories from more than one Minnesota county, you may contact the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) at:

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

1430 Maryland Avenue East

St. Paul, MN 55106

(651)793-2400

If the case history is in another state, contact the state’s court directly and follow their expungement process. You may also contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) if uncertain about your complete record in other states. The FBI can be contacted at:

FBI-CJIS Division – Record Request

1000 Custer Hollow Road

Clarksburg, VA 26306

  1. Download the forms listed below for free or get them from the Court Clerk’s office at a fee:
  1. Complete the forms with personal data and other required information and also, give justifiable reasons why you want the record expunged. You may do this by stating the challenges you face because of the record and appeal for expungement.
  2. List out details of your criminal history, including each criminal charge, whether the crime led to any conviction, the date of offense and conviction (if any), and the county and state where the crime was committed. Basically follow the guide on the form. Ensure not to leave out any crime when filling this part because the prosecutor’s office may conduct a criminal history check on you before the proceeding with the expungement and all your full criminal history will be shown.
  3. List prior expungement or pardon information if any/
  4. Fill out the Case Caption at the top of the Petition with relevant information pertaining to the court where the case was filed and other specific details.
  5. Among the options provided, tick the box with a legal reason that applies to the specific case you want to be expunged.
  6. Write out details that are specific to the case you seek to expunge on item 10, and on item 11, write out the name(s) of the victims of your crime.
  7. Fill out the other parts of the forms which require you to explain how you changed in behavior, choose the right Order, complete the Case Caption, etc.
  8. Correctly complete the Affidavit of Service, and fill in the section for addresses with the  by writing:
  9. Sheriff’s Office, (write the name of the county) County
  10. County Attorney’s Office for (write the name of the county) County
  11. City Attorney for (write the name of the city)
  12. Department of Corrections for (write the name of the county) County

Ensure that the county you list here is the same as the county you wrote in the Case Caption.

  1. Get a filing date and fill it on the petition.
  2. Sign your Petition(s) in front of a Notary. Ensure to prepare a petition for each case record you want to be expunged.
  3. After filling the forms completely and accurately, make a copy of the Petition, Attachment, and Order papers for each agency. Also, make an extra copy for yourself. Note that for each individual expungement case, you must copy the entire 3-page Petition and all Attachments, and the 2-page Order. You, however, do not need to make a copy of the Affidavit of Service.
  4. Address envelopes for each agency and put your Petition and other documents in the envelopes.
  5. Get another adult to mail your envelopes to the agencies and sign on the Affidavit of Service.
  6. File your original papers with the Court within 1-2 days after your envelopes have been mailed. Note that there is a possibility that one of the agencies objects to the expungement petition, in this case, request that the judge may allow you to contest the objection during the court hearing.
  7. Go to the court on the day of your hearing, except if otherwise stated by your court. The court considers the following when a petition for expungement is filed:
  • Whether the individual poses any risks to other citizens and the society at large
  • The nature and seriousness of the crime to be expunged
  • The steps the petitioner took towards rehabilitation
  • Efforts made by the petitioner to make restitution for crimes committed
  • The length of time that has passed since the crime was committed
  • The justification the individual provides for seeking an expungement
  • The petitioner’s entire criminal record
  • Recommendations from interested law enforcement officials, prosecutorial officials, and corrections officials
  • Recommendations from the crime victims or whether the crime victims were minors
  • Circumstances surrounding the crime, including the individual’s level of participation in the crime

The court will seal your records 60 days after the date on the judge's Order if the Judge grants the expungement Petition. Also, if the Order directs other agencies to seal the records, they will wait 60 days before sealing the record.

After 60 days from the day the record was expunged, you can test to see if your record was truly expunged by attempting to get another copy of your District Court criminal history printout. Typically, the whole expungement process takes a minimum of 4-6 months. A $300 filing fee is required for each offense that the petitioner is seeking to expunge. On the other hand, the petitioner may request that the court waives the filing fee based on their income.

The Expungement of Housing Eviction Records is equally possible in Minnesota. To have this type of record expunged, apply to the Minnesota District Court where the case was initially filed.

Will My Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in Minnesota?

An expungement record will not show up on a background check at the county and state repositories, as well as on a Non-FCRA Compliant background check, once a record has been expunged. It becomes invisible to the general public and can not be accessed. However, BCA records will show up on background checks for employment.

How to Seal a Record in Minnesota

Minnesota authorizes the sealing of arrest records of persons that were arrested but not charged with crimes or persons whose cases were dismissed. Certain criminal records qualify to be sealed in the state. Some of these include:

  • Forgery crimes
  • Issuing a dishonored check
  • Fifth-degree drug possession or sale
  • Theft
  • Mail theft
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Financial transaction card fraud
  • Damage to property

To seal a record in Minnesota, fill out the online application on your County’s Attorney General’s website. After you apply, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office will evaluate your case and refer it to the applicable County Attorney’s or City Attorney’s Office to determine if you are eligible to have your criminal record sealed. You will be contacted after applying to inform you whether you qualify to have your records sealed or not. If you qualify, you may be asked for additional information but if you do not qualify, the reason for the denial of your petition will be explained.

Note that most offenses have a waiting period and it is important to remain crime-free during the waiting period, because committing a new offense may extend the waiting period or disqualify you from eligibility. The waiting period begins to count from when you are discharged from probation or parole and it typically ranges from zero to five years, depending upon the severity of the offense and how the case was resolved.

Who Can See My Sealed Record in Minnesota?

While a sealed record cannot be accessed by the general public, it can still be accessed by the Court, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies including the FBI, police, immigration, and other related agencies in a criminal investigation, prosecution, or for sentencing and probation purposes. Also, a sealed criminal record can be viewed by criminal justice agencies and other state agencies if the record subject applies for certain jobs or occupational licenses.

How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in Minnesota

Minnesota does not regulate the expungement of bankruptcy records. Bankruptcy is a federal law issue, regulated by Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 6 U.S.C. § 605 and as such, it is handled by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Legitimate bankruptcy records cannot be deleted from credit reports in Minnesota. According to the FCRA 621(a)(2), a Chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcy record remains on a credit report for a maximum of ten years, while a Chapter 12 and 13 bankruptcy record remains on a credit report for a maximum of 7 years. Only after the aforementioned time limits can bankruptcies be deleted from credit reports. An individual can file a motion for reconsideration of the order or a notice of appeal at the United States District Court if discrepancies are discovered in a bankruptcy record.

Interested persons may contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Bureau of Consumer Protection, Education Division, Washington, D.C. 20580 at (202) 326-2222 to get details on reestablishing credit and addressing credit problems. The credit bureau(s) reporting the information may also be directly contacted. Examples of these are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

What are Minnesota Consumer Protection Laws?

Minnesota Consumer Protection Laws as recorded in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 325, help ensure that the consumer rights of state residents are not trampled upon. The law protects consumers of products and services in the state from deceptive and unfair business practices and unnecessary financial losses. The Minnesota Attorney General enforces the Consumer Protection Laws in the state. As part of the Minnesota Consumer Protection Laws, the Privacy Laws protect the personal data of state residents.

How to Delete Lien Records in Minnesota

Lien records with unresolved liens cannot be deleted in Minnesota, except by court order, following an appeal to the court. Generally, to have lien records deleted, contact your lien holder and negotiate for a favorable payment plan or a lower amount if the lien is not expired. After that, apply to remove the lien from the title by submitting the property title with the Lien Notification card from the lien holder. This must be properly signed by the lender or with a notarized Notification of Assignment – Release or Grant of Secured Interest (PS2017). If the title is missing, a duplicate title must be submitted with the release.

Also, suppose the lien has expired or is null and you can prove this, petition a court in your county to issue a court order to have the lien removed.

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