How Minnesota’s Clean Slate Law Could Help You

November 27, 2023

Minnesota legislature recently passed a Clean Slate law that automatically expunges non-violent offenses. This law will take effect in 2025, easing the expungement process for many individuals affected by these criminal records. 

This legislation marks Minnesota as the 11th state to pass a Clean Slate law. The new law could help more individuals because it expands the number of people who will be eligible to file an expungement. Before this law, Minnesota had already established an expungement process. However, it made expungement costly and time-consuming. 

Why It Came Up

Many people did not expunge their records because of these issues. This result inspired Santa Clara University to conduct a study on the expungement rates. According to the data, only 5% of eligible residents in Minnesota have expunged their records. However, 60% of people with criminal records qualify for expungement. 

Individuals interested in expungement must understand that this process does not eliminate the record. It only prevents the information from appearing on standard background checks. As such, your potential employer or landlord would not see these offenses in your background check reports.

However, law enforcement agencies could still access these expunged records. Other agencies that maintain access include the courts, the Department of Human Services, and other licensing boards. As such, they may review these records when conducting background checks on you.

How to Qualify

If you have eligible non-violent offenses, you can expect to see them automatically expunged as early as 2025. Examples of qualified records include dismissed petty and gross misdemeanors. Petty and gross misdemeanors for individuals who completed a diversion program or stay-of-adjudication also qualify. 

You must complete at least two years before your records become eligible for automatic expungement. This waiting period applies if you have eligible petty misdemeanors and discharged sentences. Eligible gross misdemeanors have a three-year waiting period after discharging the punishment. Violent offenses, as well as certain other offenses, will not qualify for automatic expungement.

Crimes typically eligible for expungement include theft, property damage, and receiving stolen property. You may also find offenses such as fifth-degree drug possession or sales qualify. However, you must avoid further charges during this waiting period. Failure will disqualify you for automatic expungement. 

This law could give many Minnesota residents better employment and housing opportunities. Until then, interested individuals may petition for an expungement. Should your petition succeed, consider running a self-background check before applying for jobs or housing. This self-check will inform you whether the expunged records are still visible and allow you to make corrections before anyone screens your background.

Try running a self background check today and give yourself a head start on your next opportunity.