Is It a Crime? Minneapolis Petty Misdemeanor Expungement Attorney

Is a petty misdemeanor a crime?

According to Minnesota Statute 609.02, subdivision 4a, a petty misdemeanor is “a petty offense which is prohibited by statute, which does not constitute a crime and for which a sentence of a fine of not more than $300 may be imposed.” Therefore, according to this statute, a petty misdemeanor is technically not a crime in Minnesota. However, just because a petty misdemeanor is not crime does not mean that it will not tarnish your record. An experienced expungement attorney may be able to help you keep your record clean.

Expungement of Petty Misdemeanor Convictions Under Minnesota Law.

There are six circumstances of criminal conviction expungement and sealing of record:

  1. Expungement of Certain Controlled Substance Offenses in Minnesota Under Chapter 609A.02, Subd. 1, and Minn. Stat. § 152.18 (Discharge & Dismissal);
  2. Expungement of Juveniles Prosecuted as Adults in Minnesota Under Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, Subd. 2;
  3. Expungement of Certain Criminal Proceedings Not Resulting in Conviction in Minnesota Under Minn. Stat. § 609A.02, Subd. 3;
  4. Expungement of Records Relating to Identification Data and Information held by Minnesota Law Enforcement Under Minn. Stat. § 299C.11;
  5. Expungement of Criminal Convictions Under Minnesota Law and Inherent Judicial Authority; and
  6. Expungement of Petty Misdemeanor Convictions Under Minnesota Law.

In this section, we will discuss number six, Expungement of Petty Misdemeanor Convictions Under Minnesota Law.

Under Minnesota law, a person may be able to expunge a criminal record or conviction in any of the following circumstances:

  1. certain controlled substance (or drug) offenses;
  2. juveniles prosecuted as adults;
  3. certain proceedings not resulting in a conviction where “all pending actions or proceedings were resolved in favor of the petitioner;”  or
  4. any criminal conviction (felony, gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor, petty misdemeanor, crimes of violence, drug cases, fraud cases, etc.) on a person’s record so long as the person is not required to register under Minn. Stat. § 243.166.  See Minn. Stat. § 609A.02;  see also Minnesota case law describing the right (and power) of the Minnesota judiciary to expunge criminal convictions by its “inherent judicial authority.”

Thus, the question arises if (or how) a person convicted of a petty misdemeanor offense can have the record expunged and sealed by the courts.  What every person should know is that if a person pleads guilty to a “petty misdemeanor” charge or offense and, as a result, such person is “found guilty” of that offense, then that person does have possible relief under the law and may be entitled to expunge and seal such an offense.

In this circumstance, a court has a few options to consider:  the court can

  1. grant the entire request,
  2. grant the request in part and deny it in part, or
  3. summarily deny the request in its entirety.

Because of these options and other relevant expungement laws that dictate what a court may do, under certain circumstances the court may simply not be able to chose to deny the petitioner’s request to have the record expunged and sealed.  In fact, under certain circumstances, the person may actually be able to force the court to grant the request to expunge and seal the record.  Thus, for criminal offenses generally the court may chose to seal the records of the petition itself, the arrest or citation, the charges, and all other records relative to the criminal offense and conviction.

However for petty misdemeanors, the court may choose to do nothing regarding the petty offense under statutory law.  This is because Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 609A, does not apply to non-criminal offenses that are not resolved in favor of the petitioner.  However, the statute does to some degree order the various government agencies to reflect the noncriminal nature of the petty misdemeanor disposition.  Thus, in this situation the court may chose to

  1. grant the petition to expunge and seal the record concerning, say, the original charges in the case (assuming the charges are more serious than a petty offense) or expunge and seal it to the extent that the record is referred to as an offense greater than a petty misdemeanor or petty offense;  and
  2. deny the request petition to expunge and seal the record to the extent that a record of some sort will still exist.

As you can probably see, petitioning a court to expunge and seal a record is a very specific, detailed, and complex area of the law.  In part, I believe this is because the public, politicians who write the laws, and the personal policy interests of the courts and judges are personally opposed to, in essence, wiping the slate clean for people and making them suffer for past wrongdoings.  Certainly there are exceptions to this, but for whatever reason, people seem to be less forgiving and less inclined to let people move on from their mistakes – which in some cases the only “mistake” made was being of a “wrong color skin,” not being wealthy enough to afford a proper legal defense, and ultimately being wrongfully-convicted by some prosecutor trying to make a name for himself or herself.  This is not justice.  And my hope is that some semblance of justice can be restored by the use of criminal record expungement and sealing laws in Minnesota.  I look forward to working with you and your case.

Criminal Expungement Attorneys at Thompson Hall Santi Cerny & Dooley

The attorneys at Thompson Hall Santi Cerny & Dooley have the experience necessary to help you protect yourself from government intrusion into your privacy.  Our attorneys are experienced in expungement matters and can help you get rid of your those bothersome petty offenses and other related records suggesting you have a criminal history record.  Take the necessary legal steps to seal up any trace on your criminal history record that implies you had some unexplained contact with law enforcement at some time in your life.  Expunging your criminal record and other related documents, records, data, and information is critical to your continued success.  You deserve better!  Let Thompson Hall Santi Cerny & Dooley help you achieve it.

How Much Does It Cost?

Expungement is not cheap. You can easily pay $4,000 to $8,000 for the legal work, without any guarantee of results.

Each situation has its own complexities and there are many aspects to discuss to understand the details of your situation and advise you accurately. We have an experienced attorney here who would be happy to analyze your situation’s circumstances and advise you of your legal rights and options. This can generally be accomplished during a one-hour meeting (which can be by phone). Our fee for a one-hour meeting is $300. Work beyond that initial hour is at usual hourly rates. We do not offer free consultations on this type of work.

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