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A recent ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court should make it easier for some individuals to expunge their Minnesota criminal records.  In State v. R.H.B., the Minnesota Supreme court held that a petitioner who can demonstrate to the court that all of his or her criminal charges were resolved in his or her favor is presumed to be entitled to a Minnesota expungement.  What does it mean to have criminal charges resolved in your favor?  It means that all of your criminal charges must either have been dismissed OR you were acquitted of all charges following a trial.

This is a significant decision for one very big reason.  Most of the time, people don’t realize that a record of an arrest or criminal charges still exist even if the charges were dismissed.  This can cause serious problems for people subject to background checks during an employment or housing application process.  Prior to the Court’s decision in R.H.B., it was much more difficult to obtain a Minnesota expungement, even if the charges were dismissed.  Now, the Court has said that you are presumed to be entitled to have your records sealed if your charges were dismissed.  This shifts the burden to the State and requires it to present sufficient evidence to the Court that it’s in the public’s interest to keep the records public.

In support of its decision, the Court interpreted Minn. Stat. 609A.03, subd. 5(b) as directing a district court to “grant the petition to seal the record” if all pending proceedings have been resolved in the petitioner’s favor.  Now, if you are charged with a crime and found not guilty, you are entitled to a Minnesota expungement and put yourself back in the position you were before you were charged with a crime.

The Court’s opinion, while making it easier to get an expungement, didn’t make the process itself any easier.  The Minnesota expungement process still remains rather complicated.  It’s always a good idea to consult a Minnesota criminal defense attorney or Minnesota expungement lawyer familiar with the procedure.  A good Minnesota expungement attorney will take the time to explain the process to you and ask the right questions to make sure you won’t face any unexpected hurdles on your way to sealing your records.

Even if your criminal charges were not dismissed or you weren’t acquitted after trial, there are other limited circumstances in which you might still be able to seal your records.  If you think you might qualify for a Minnesota expungement, contact the Minnesota expungement lawyer at Arechigo and Stokka for a free consultation.

Author Photo John T. Arechigo, Esq.

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.

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