What Minnesota’s New Expungement Law Means for Criminal Records

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in May approved a law that changes the expungement process and how it relates to criminal records.

The bill itself is aimed at giving former offenders a second chance after prolonged periods of time in instances where they’ve reformed their lives. Should an offender complete a diversion program and stay clean for at least two years, they could qualify for their records to be expunged, according to a report from TwinCities.com.

To make old records disappear, background check service providers will be asked to remove old information from their databases. Expunging criminal offenses from records is sure to give more reformed offenders better chances at obtaining new job and housing opportunities.

“People can’t turn their lives around and become law-abiding citizens, if they have no hope of finding a decent job or a place to live,” emphasized Governor Dayton through a press release. “This law provides a chance for them to put their pasts behind them and live better lives.”

Through the same press release, the bill’s author, Senator Bobby Joe Champion, noted that around 1 in 5 Minnesotans have criminal records. Meanwhile, Champion also detailed the increased use of background investigations. “The use of online criminal record checks by employers and landlords has skyrocketed as they evaluate candidates for employment and housing. Unfortunately, online records are often inaccurate, incomplete or misinterpreted.”

The new law also clarifies juvenile records, making it clear that juvenile delinquency records can be expunged in addition to orders of adjudication.

Supporting the bill were several organizations including the MN Second Chance Coalition, the MN Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the MN Coalition of Battered Women and the County Attorney Association.

Minnesota previously passed its “Ban the Box” initiative a few years back, a law that makes employers wait until the interview process is complete before asking prospective employees about their criminal histories.

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