On May 14th the Second Chance bill was signed to law by Governor Mark Dayton. This bill will go into effect on Jan 1, 2015 and will allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged for some reformed offenders. The goal is to allow people to turn their lives around. Often previous arrests or convictions make it difficult to find a job and/or a home. The goal of this new law is to give people the opportunity to find a job and a place to live without their past interfering.
Since nearly one in five Minnesotans have an arrest on their record, it is anticipated that thousands of people will be eligible for expungement under this new law. Previous expungement petitions have been for offenses such as insufficient checks, shoplifting, theft and assault. When the new law goes into effect it will include all misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors and many non-violent felonies. Domestic violence and sexual assault are specifically excluded from the law and will not be eligible for expungement.
Minnesotans are being cautioned that just because they have a qualifying offense does not mean it will automatically be expunged. A legal process is required to achieve this.
In addition some questions have arisen about how this new law will impact offenses such as DWI’s where prior convictions impact penalties. If a past record is expunged how can penalties be contingent on prior convictions?
If you are facing a criminal or DWI charge you should consider hiring a Minnesota criminal defense attorney regardless of whether or not your conviction could be expunged in the future based on the new law. Your best bet is to put forth a good defense and try to avoid conviction so you can avoid undesirable punishments such as jail time and/or expensive fines. Contact us to learn how we can help with your specific case.