As we talked about in an earlier post, getting a job in this market is tough enough even if you don’t have a criminal record. Many job applicants believe they may be dismissed from contention for a position because of a past incident on their criminal record. While the court won’t expunge (or seal) certain convictions, you may want to consider sealing your records if you feel they will hinder you in your future endeavors.
What is criminal record expungement?
Criminal record expungement is the process of sealing past court orders so only certain officials have access to them. It’s important to understand that expungement doesn’t mean that your records are destroyed, and certain departments like the FBI, immigration officers and law enforcement officials still have access to your sealed records, but expungement can keep the general public from learning of your past convictions. People commonly request their record to be sealed if they have been denied a job or a lease because of past convictions.
What types of crimes can be expunged?
While sealing your criminal record may sound like a good idea, it’s important to know that not all crimes can be sealed. Crimes like murder, sexual assault and driving while intoxicated are never expunged due to their severity. Common crimes that may be expunged include:
- Possession of a controlled substance (like marijuana or pain pills)
- Traffic violations
- Underage consumption
- Various juvenile crimes
Although some cases are easier than others, just because you request your record to be expunged doesn’t mean that a judge will comply.
Getting your record sealed
The court often grants expungement for cases that were ruled “in your favor”. Court details will show up on a background check even if you were found not guilty of a crime. If you were arrested and the charges were later dismissed, you should consider sealing your record. Also, if you were allowed to attend a diversion program, like alcohol awareness sessions, you should be able to get your record sealed because you did not plead guilty.
Getting your record expunged for cases that were ruled “not in your favor” is a tougher process, but it can be done with the help of an attorney. For cases that were ruled not in your favor, expungement will only seal the court’s records. This means that if you pled guilty or were convicted, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will still have record of the case, which means it will still show up on a background check.
Getting your record expunged is a complicated process regardless of whether a case was ruled “in your favor”, and there are a variety of legal documents that need to be filled out. If you’re thinking about getting your record sealed, contact an attorney to talk about your options.