Everybody has a lapse in judgment every once in a while. Children experience lapses in judgment all the time, but a mistake made as a child should not follow someone around for the rest of their life.
The truth is, good kids make mistakes. The Minnesota government recognizes this and aims to ensure that children’s lives are not ruined by criminal convictions. To achieve that aim, the criminal records of minors are subject to different rules than the criminal records of adults.
In most instances, the law automatically takes childhood crimes off a criminal record after 10 years, but not always. Minnesota has specific rules surrounding the process. This may, however, bring up more questions than it answers. Some of the questions you might have at this point include:
- If you get a felony as a minor does it go away when you turn 18?
- Do juvenile records get erased?
- What is juvenile record expungement?
In this piece, the team at Arechigo & Stokka answers those questions and explains the rules surrounding the criminal records of minors, expungement, and felonies committed as a minor.
Why the Legal System Treats Minors Differently Than Adults
Governments all around the world recognize that children are continuously developing. As a result, children do not yet have the same faculties or capacities as adults. Recognizing this, governments worldwide do not grant the same civil, political, and economic rights to children as they do to adults.
In tandem, children also do not typically have the same obligations as adults in a given country or state. For example, minors do not have the right to do things like vote, own a gun, or join the military.
This logic applies to criminal law just as much as it applies to a person’s right to vote. In most countries and all US states, the law does not prosecute minors for crimes the same way as adults. In many instances, minors below a specific age cannot face a criminal charge at all.
The law calls the age at which the state can certify a juvenile for adult prosecution of a felony the “age of criminal responsibility.” Different states and countries apply different age thresholds and specific rules regarding the criminal prosecution of minors.
But prosecuting children differently than adults is ubiquitous throughout the country and world. In Minnesota, the age of criminal responsibility is 14 years old.
What Is Expungement?
In the dictionary, to expunge is to erase or remove something completely. In criminal law, expungement describes the process where a judge seals someone’s criminal record, in whole or in part, from public records.
The result of the expungement of a criminal conviction is that there is no public record of it. It is as if the conviction never happened. Expungement doesn’t stop at convictions. An expungement also includes arrest records themselves.
Through expungement, an arrest record goes away regardless of whether or not someone was convicted of the crime. Only a judge can expunge a crime from someone’s record.
Expungement of Minor Records
In Minnesota, there is a general expungement rule for minors. The law automatically expunges the criminal record of a minor 10 years after a conviction. However, this automatic expungement only occurs if there are no arrests or criminal convictions in the intervening 10 years.
For felony convictions, expungement does not happen automatically. Instead, those wanting an expungement of their record for a felony committed as a minor must petition the courts to do so.
Expungement of Felonies for Minors in Minnesota
Minnesota can charge minors with felonies for crimes like robbery, distribution of drugs, and sex crimes. Even those crimes can be expunged, but only in specific circumstances.
To expunge a felony charge from one’s record, one must petition a judge for the expungement. In making the determination, the judge will consider whether:
- The charges were dismissed;
- The individual was not convicted or found guilty of the crime; or
- The individual did not plead guilty to the criminal charges.
If your case meets any of these three criteria, a judge can expunge your felony record. But even if a court found a child guilty of a felony, a judge can expunge the charge at their discretion. And while expungement in Minnesota applies to state records, it does not apply to federal records.
Do You Have a Criminal Record for a Crime You Committed As a Minor?
Whether you have a felony or misdemeanor charge, if you want to have your juvenile criminal record expunged there is no substitute for an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Whatever your situation is, the defense attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka can help. Our team has helped countless individuals who committed crimes as minors expunge their records so they can put their past behind them. We know that people make mistakes and firmly believe that everyone deserves a second chance.
Don’t let your juvenile criminal record follow you around for the rest of your life. Contact the defense attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka for a free consultation on your Minnesota expungement case today!
Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.