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Sunday, August 22, 2010


The most important time for you to hire an attorney is when the case is still under investigation. A skilled Minneapolis criminal defense attorney can have a direct  influence on the decision by a police officer  to  refer the case to the prosecuting attorney  for formal charges. A simple polygraph test may do the trick. If the criminal lawyer can convince the officer  not to  refer your case  for prosecution, the case  goes no further than the facts recited in a police report resting  calmly at the bottom of a  police file drawer.   A criminal lawyer who is retained at the pre-charge stage of the case will immediately notify the investigating  officer that he is representing the suspect and advise the officer that no further communication should occur between the officer and  client. This tactic will prevent police calls to your home or work and stop the police from dropping by unannounced for a "friendly"   interview. The pre-charge criminal defense attorney may also be able to work with  the prosecuting attorney to negotiate a favorable resolution of the case at an early stage of the proceedings and avoid the time and expense of a formal prosecution. If a  prosecutor does decide to proceed with formal charges, a pre-charge criminal attorney may be able to convince the prosecution to issue a summons instead of a warrant for your arrest as private counsel has been retained and the likelihood of a nonappearance by a defendant in court has been significantly reduced. If you are a target in a criminal investigation, you should hire a skilled Minneapolis criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. For more information and tips for suspects in a criminal case, please go to my website at

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why not Expunge your Criminal Record?

Sealing Arrest Records

Minnesota law allows you to expunge your criminal arrest record under certain conditions. A successful expungement will prevent prospective employers and landlords from learning about mistakes you made in the past. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and many other state agencies will seal your arrest records upon your request in a  case where you were arrested, but not charged,  under the  following conditions:

a. You must not have  been convicted of a felony or gross misdemeanor within 10 years following the  arrest; and

b. All charges against you were dismissed before there was any finding of probable cause against you.

The applicable law on this point is located at Minnesota Statutes Section 299C.11.

Statutory Expungement

Minnesota law  allows for the sealing of your records where probable cause has been found to support the charge against you, but you were never convicted of the crime. The following persons are eligible: 

a. A first time controlled substance offender who receives a discharge and dismissal under Minnesota Statutes Section 152.18;

b. A juvenile offender who is certified as an adult and  convicted  may file for an expungement and prevail upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that  sealing the records would yield a benefit to the offender equal or greater to the disadvantages to the public and  public safety.

c. Also certain proceeding that resolve in the petitioner's favor are eligible for an expungement such as the dismissal of a grand jury indictment, a continuance for dismissal after  successful completion of probation, and where a person is found not guilty by a judge or jury.

The Court's Inherent Authority to Expunge Criminal Records

When a court proceeding has not been resolved in your favor, the courts still have the power to grant your petition for expungement under circumstances where your constitutional rights have been seriously infringed. If there has been no infringement of your constitutional rights, the court will use a balancing test to determine whether or not the expungement will yield a benefit to you that is equal with the disadvantages to the public from the sealing of the record and the burden on the court system in issuing, enforcing, and monitoring an expungement order.

Certain Crimes are not Eligible for Expungement

Minnesota law prohibits the expungement of certain types of offenses including murder, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct offenses, DWI's, and traffic offenses. See Minnesota Statutes Section 609A.02, subd. 4.

What Records can be Sealed in an Expungement Proceeding?

a. You can seal all of the arrest records when you have been arrested, but not charged. A  separate demand must be sent to each agency;

b. When a statutory expungement is successful, you are allowed to seal all agency records;

c. If an agency  has not been served with a copy of the expungement petition, the records can not be sealed;

d. If the proceeding was not resolved in your favor and an expungement is granted, the courts have discretion under appropriate circumstances to expunge court files and agency files, including  BCA records.

It has become very difficult for persons with criminal records to obtain housing or employment. Make sure you  take advantage of applicable law and seal your past for good.