There is a group of Minnesota House Members and Senators that have come together to form the Expungement Working Group. On Tuesday, they had their third meeting in three months, and at this meeting lawmakers heard public testimony on the current issues surrounding expungement law. Much of the testimony focused on the effect a criminal record has on a prior offender’s ability to secure employment and the changes that must be made to the expungement law to remedy this problem.
The public described the current Minnesota law as “toothless” and a “meaningless remedy” during the testimony. Under the current law, an “inherent authority” expungement, which is an expungement under Minnesota Statutes, chapter 609A of a case that resulted in a finding of guilt, only expunges the judicial records. The other type of expungement is a “statutory expungement,” which are only available for certain cases that were resolved in favor of the defendant.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last May that judges granting an “inherent authority” expungement can expunge only court records. The executive branch records are not sealed or expunged. This means that the records of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) are unaffected and remain available to the public. Because of this, these records continue to appear in background checks, preventing applicants from securing work or housing.