All people make mistakes. Unfortunately, sometimes those mistakes can lead to criminal charges. Such charges can have a negative effect and limit a person’s future growth.

Thankfully, it may be possible to get certain charges cleared. There are a few important aspects to this process.

Different from sealing

Two common forms of removing a charge from a record are expungement and sealing of a record. People often mistake these two processes as the same. Sealing a record makes it unavailable to the public; however, the charge still exists, and some government officials may still access it. On the other hand, an expungement completely removes the charge from the records on all levels. It is important that parties understand this and seek the proper removal method to meet their needs.

Criteria

Depending upon the type of charge and outcome of the case, it may be easier to secure approval for one type of clearing over the other. For example, courts usually grant the sealing of records when defendants faced misdemeanor charges that were dismissed, or the party was not guilty. If the defendant was guilty, it may be possible to receive an expungement if the crimes were nonviolent and several years old. For example, it may be possible to receive an expungement for a DUI that is over 10 years old.

Process

The process for applying for a record seal or expungement is straightforward. Applicants must complete the proper paperwork and submit it to the court where the initial offense occurred. They may receive the hearing request forms and instructions from Minnesota’s Judicial Branch. The application must include any fees and all requested information. At the hearing, parties have a chance to argue their case for having the charges removed. The court reviews the case and argument and then makes a decision.

This is a brief overview of the key aspects of clearing a criminal record. For those looking to start the process, it can be very beneficial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to determine the best course of action.