Do Felonies Drop Off Your Criminal Record?

A felony conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life. Not only will it subject you to fines, incarceration, and other criminal penalties, but it will also result in a mark on your record. Make no mistake, although we have used the word "mark," which may make it seem like having a conviction on your criminal record is a small thing, it is actually a very significant problem that can prevent or make it difficult for you to access opportunities available to others.

The very damaging conviction mark does not drop off your record. A felony conviction will remain there forever. Because criminal records are public information, anyone who accesses yours can make decisions that can impact the course of your life.

For instance, a felony conviction on your record can negatively affect:

  • Employment opportunities
  • Business and occupational licensing approvals
  • Housing opportunities
  • Education prospects

Sealing a Felony Conviction

Earlier we mentioned that a felony conviction does not go away. We should clarify by stating that it does not "automatically" drop off your record. You can take steps to have the information sealed.

The process for clearing your criminal record is called expungement. If a court grants your request, your felony conviction will be wiped from your public record. That means neither landlords, creditors, school administrators, nor other decision-makers will be able to see that you were previously convicted of a crime. For the most part, potential employers will also be barred from accessing your record. However, exceptions exist, which we will discuss momentarily.

Although felony record-sealing is possible through expungement, that in no way means it is an easy process. Before a court grants such a request, it must ensure that allowing relief does not endanger members of the community in any way. The judicial system is concerned with protecting the public from violent or harmful offenses. Thus, if the disadvantages society faces outweigh the benefits to you, your petition will be denied.

The court will consider the following when determining whether or not to grant an expungement:

  • Severity of the offense
  • Risk posed to society
  • Time since the offense was committed
  • Steps toward rehabilitation
  • Aggravating or mitigating factors associated with the offense
  • Reason for the request
  • Criminal record
  • Employment and community involvement
  • Law enforcement officials' recommendations
  • Efforts to satisfy restitution payments

It is important to note that not all felonies are eligible for expungement. Minnesota Statutes 609A.02 enumerates specific felonies that can be cleared. Those such as murder, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, and felony-level indecent exposure cannot.

Limitations on Expungement of Felony Records

If your felony is eligible for expungement and your request is granted, that does not mean the information is completely erased or destroyed. In limited circumstances, law enforcement agencies can access the information. A couple of instances in which a record may be opened include when officials are investigating a crime or are conducting a background check on someone interviewing for a job with a criminal justice agency.

Whether you have been accused or convicted of a felony in Minneapolis, our team at Brockton D. Hunter P.A. is here to fight for you. Contact us at (612) 979-1112 for a free consultation.